Background: With globalization a fact, and cultural diversity an ever-increasing reality, New York’s public schools have opened themselves up to the learning of foreign languages but also to the teaching of traditional core content areas in a language other than English. According to the New York Department of Education, students who will speak a second language will be better prepared to succeed in a multicultural world and will be able to preserve their cultural heritage. Since 2005, new programs in the French language have emerged en force in the public schools. The impetus that created the rapid success of these programs is a result of the synergy between multiple partners—French, Francophone, and Francophile. These actors have offered an alternative to parents who seek not only to offer an economically feasible solution for a dual English-French education, but also a more diverse choice in their children’s education. In September 2009, six New York public schools will open their doors to bilingual classes (French-English). The schools are PS125 (Harlem), PS58 (Caroll Gardens - Brooklyn), PS73 (Bronx), CIS22 (Bronx), andPS84 (Upper West Side), and PS151 in Woodside (Queens). In the Fall of 2009, these schools will open a total of 19 classes, serving more than 500 students. In just two year’s time the programs increased enrolment nine-fold! These immersion classes in French and English are geared toward Francophones, Anglophones and bilingual students, as well as students who speak little or no English. Each individual school assures its own individual enrolment. These classes join more than 70 other dual language programs (Spanish, Chinese, Russian, Haitian Creole and Korean) financed by the city of New York. How to start a program? Usually, a small group of parents initiate the process and posts announcements, flyers, blogs in their neighborhood. Example: Parents in Williamsburg/Greenpoint are seeking to open a French-English Dual Language Program in the Fall of 2009. They posted information on yahoo groups, in restaurants and shop windows, and kept an list of emails. Here is their message: "District 14 public school seeking 8-10 native French Speaking and 8-10non-native families with children entering kindergarten in September2009 or 2010 to create a dynamic French - English Dual Language Program. If you are interested to learn more about this program as well as a French after school programthis is the place to show your interest and support. Parent(s) name/ Child name/ year entering K/ Email/ Address/ Phone/ Zone/ district/ Notes (exposure to french, categories: 1 - Anglophone, 2 - half-francophone (understands and speaks a little french but fluent in english) and 3 - Francophone (fluent in French but not in english)" Their next step was to get support and expertise from various partners such as Education Francaise a New York Parents and other EFNY volunteers play a key role. They identify potential host schools and work with school personnel to explore the possibility of creating a dual-language program. EFNY coordinates this work, promotes the benefits of dual-language instruction, demonstrates the demand for such programs to the DOE, and, in general, encourages the opening of new programs. These parents also received support from the French Embassy's Cultural Services which provide them with a letter of support stating that France will provide the text books and offer trainings and workshops for the teachers. With a list of interested parents in hand, plus expertise from community organizations such as EFNY, and logistical support from the French Embassy this group of parents is now ready to approach school principals in the vicinity. Selecting the right school is a tricky road. Often, popular schools do not have space for a new program such as a dual-language program which takes up two classrooms, and an additional two each year, depending on the model chosen by the school. Some schools will have the same teacher teach both English and French. Other schools will use two teachers, one for English the other for French. Students will switch classrooms depending on the language. The morning may be spent in English, the afternoon in French. Some schools will use the same language for the day. Sometimes, it's the least popular school in the neighborhood which will be the most receptive. For the principal, the new program is a chance to bring some change in his school. The school population might be shrinking, so is the school budget, and the principal seek new ways to attract new families. French is appealing. And the families who seek French are very motivated and will participate in the school's life. This is a great advantage for the principal. And for our group of parents. Before they make a decision the Principal will want to see that there is interest in his community and outside. Several assemblies need to be held, and special events too to attract families from outside. Parents in Queens organized a movie screening for kids and a small get-together for parents. They also met or kept in touch regularly with the families who showed interest. Once a principal is moving towards making a decision the focus shifts to finding teachers. Here too EFNY or the French Embassy or the Department of Education can become a good support. The DOE will also give a small grant to the school ($25, 000) to help with planning. The French Embassy will offer its support too such as buying $10,000 worth of school books or sending teachers to France for training over the summer. Now all the ingredients are in place to make this program happen in your neighborhood! Feel free to post questions and leave comments – in English or French – below.

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  • I have a question: are there any plans to start something similar in New Jersey, particularly in Jersey City or in the North Bergen county?
    And, for those who might not know: there are French classes available in Hoboken, NJ and Jersey City, NJ - for kids and adults - I enrolled my 16 months-old son to a French baby class - here is the web-site:

  • 2009-2010 listing


    • We heard that some of the dual language classes throughout New York still have available seats, so please let all your friends know asap as it might still be possible to register children. You need to contact directly the school.
      In particular:
      - K class at PS 151 (Woodside)
      - 2nd grade at PS 84 (Upper West Side)
      - K through 3rd grade at PS 125 (Harlem)

  • Woodside school to hold French bilingual program
    Classes, spearheaded by activists in city Francophone community, will start this fall at PS 151

    By Anna Gustafson
    Thursday, August 6, 2009 9:15 AM EDT

    PS 151 Principal Jason Goldner said he is excited his school in Woodside will be the borough’s first school to offer a French dual language program this fall. Photo by Anna Gustafson
    Queens’ first French dual-language program is opening this fall at PS 151 in Woodside, elating the school’s principal, parents and members of the city’s Francophone community who have long wished more schools would offer classes in the language spoken by more than 300,000 families citywide, including many in Woodside and Astoria.

    “I didn’t realize this, but there’s a large French population in Astoria and Queens,” said PS 151 Principal Jason Goldner. “When we had an orientation for the program, a lot of the French community came out to support the cause.”

    Woodside parents Virginie Le Lan and Helene Maubourguet, both originally from France, have been spearheading the effort in recent years to open dual-langauge programs in schools throughout the city. Soon after they approached Goldner last year about having PS 151 be the city’s sixth school to offer a French program, Goldner said he came to the conclusion that it seemed to be a perfect fit for the area.

    “There’s a big Francophone community here,” said Le Lan, whose child will be attending the program in Woodside. “There are not only people from France, but people from North Africa — Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco.”

    Le Lan and Maubourguet are both members of Education Francaise a New York, a group founded in 2005 to promote the French language and culture, which has been active in starting up a dual-language program in Queens.

    There will initially be two French dual-language classes at PS 151, one for kindergartners and the other for first-grade students. Eventually, the program will extend from kindergarten to fifth-grade.

    About half of each class will be made up of Francophones and the other 50 percent will be native English speakers. The students, who will total no more than 24 in each class, will follow a 50/50 model in which half the daily instructional time is conducted in English and the other half in French. Literacy and social studies will be taught in both languages. Math will only be taught in English, but children will learn math vocabulary in French.

    Specialty subjects, such as science, physical education, art and music will be taught in English.

    “There are non-French speaking parents who are interested in this program,” Goldner said. “There are a lot of non-French speaking parents who are multilingual and believe in the value of languages.”

    There are 78 dual-language programs in the city, including 19 in Queens. Many of those programs are Spanish-English programs with others in Chinese and even one in Haitian Creole. Of Queens’ dual-language programs, 16 are Spanish, two are Chinese and one is Korean.

    Besides Woodside’s new program, there are French dual-language programs at five other schools — one in Brooklyn, one in Harlem, one on the Upper West Side and two in the Bronx.

    Fabrice Jaumont, who works for the French Embassy in Manhattan, said it makes sense to offer more French programs, since the embassy estimates there are more than 300,000 Francophone families in the city. Additionally, Jaumont added that being fluent in French opens up many doors in a world where the language is spoken in about 55 countries.

    “In Asia and Europe, the kids are learning two or three languages at a very young age,” Jaumont said. “That means those kids in Asia or Europe will have more of a competitive résumé than kids coming out without other languages here. Whether it’s French or other languages, kids should have the option of learning several languages early on in their education.”

    Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 174.


    P.S. 151 breaks ground with French program

    by Lisa Fogarty , Assistant Editor

    Parents, teachers and the P.S. 151 community in Woodside said “mais oui” to a new French dual language program for kindergarten and first-grade students, set to start in September — the first of its kind in Queens.
    Although there are 81 dual language programs in New York City public schools, only five of them are offered in French, despite a recent statistic released by Education Francaise a New York, a group founded to promote French education in city schools, that says more than 31,000 children speak French at home. The French programs in operation are located in public schools in Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Bronx.


    As it turns out, Woodside has a vibrant French-speaking European and North African community, and was an ideal place in which to launch the borough’s first French program. P.S. 151 Principal Jason Goldner learned this fact when he was approached by two parents who were eager to establish a French program at the school. Uncertain of the prevalence of the language in his area, Goldner invited Woodside’s French-speaking families to attend a movie night at his school. The event proved edifying.
    “I had all these French-speaking children running around watching Babak,” Goldner said. “Unbeknownst to me, I found there is a French community in Queens. If my parents in this community want a French program, I’m going to provide it.”
    The French dual language program offers a classroom environment where half of the students in each class are English dominant speakers and half are fluent in French. By collaborating with the District 30 Community Education Council, the French Embassy, the Office of English Language Learners, which provides a $20,000 grant to any school that starts a French language program, and the parent organization French Education in New York, P.S. 151 will follow a 50/50 model in which half the daily instruction time will be conducted in English, half in French. Literacy and social studies will be taught in French and English. While math is taught only in English, math vocabulary will be taught in both languages. Specialty subjects such as science, physical education, art and music are taught in English.
    “French is not the priority,” Goldner stressed. “The priority is giving them a good education — and through getting a good education, they will learn French.”
    The program proved a success at P.S. 84 in Manhattan, a school that broke ground with its dual language Spanish program in the mid 1980s. A year a half ago, parents approached Principal Robin Sundick, requesting she add a French program to the kindergarten and first grade classes. The community found the curriculum so rewarding, there’s a waiting list for P.S. 84’s current kindergarten class.
    “By the end of six years in the program, the children really will become biliterate, bicultural and bilingual,” Sundick said. “Some are learning French and some are learning English, so there’s a real sense of community, support and collaboration in the classroom. It becomes a very nurturing environment and the children are really participating in each other’s education.”
    Teachers at P.S. 151 will not repeat any instructional content in translation, and students will be expected to meet or exceed New York State and city standards. The current plan will provide students enrolled in this year’s dual language program with French instruction until fifth grade, though the curriculum could grow to two classes if the neighborhood’s demographics change.
    “It’s a wonderful program and everyone on the council was in favor of it,” said Jeannie Tsavaris-Basini, chairwoman of the District 30 CEC. “Our only concern was how it would be funded.”
    Several organizations stepped up to offer a tremendous amount of help, Goldner said, including the French Embassy, which is assisting in funding the program. One of the school’s teachers already taught French to a group of students at an outside facility, and Goldner hired another French-speaking instructor to start in September.
    Besides giving parents an opportunity to help mold their children’s curriculum, the French dual language program has allowed P.S. 151 the opportunity to distinguish itself at a time when the school was rapidly losing students to other schools, Goldner said.
    “This program is giving it flavor,” he said. “It’s an exciting new program — and it’s going to add character to the school.”
    Space is still available for P.S. 151’s French dual-language kindergarten and first grade class. All French-dominant or bilingual students applying for the 2009-2010 school year will be tested by school staff for fluency in French. Testing will take place at P.S. 151 after school in September. For more information, contact Naida Ryans, parent coordinator, at (347) 563-4254 or by email at Parents can also register at P.S. 151 located at 50-05 31st Ave., Woodside, (718) 728-2676.
  • Hi Fabrice,

    I love this idea and I'd like to talk to parents here in Forest Hills to see if we can have this French bilingual program in our neighborhood.

    a bientot,

    • Hi Patricia,

      We do have children from Forest Hill, Jackson High coming next september to the dual language program in French at PS 151 (Astoria-Woodside). We might be able to put in place private transportation from Forest Hill. If you know interested parents, please contact me.
      Virginie Le Lan
  • French Dual Language at PS 151 Queens

    PS 151 is happy to announce its plans to open two French Dual Language classes in grades K and 1, for the 2009-2010 school year. We have been working in conjunction with the Office of English Language Learners, the Community Education Council and the parent organization, French Education in New York.

    It was this parent organization that initially brought the need for French Dual Language to our attention. While exploring several options, it was determined that PS 151 was a perfect match for the following reasons:

    • PS 151 is at the heart of the French speaking community.
    • Several French speaking students already attend our public school.
    • A new dual language program would offer an innovative. educational option that no other school offers in the Borough of Queens.
    • Given the enthusiastic parental involvement and determination of EFNY, this program would bring energy to a school that openly welcomes it.

    What is a Dual Language Program (DLP)?
    Entry into a dual language program is a multi-year commitment involving the family as well as the student. Students learn to become multi-cultural, bi-lingual and bi-literate.

    • An enrichment bilingual program where students learn in two languages.
    • Approximately half of the students are English dominant speakers, and half are fluent in French (or bilingual) in each class.
    • It integrates linguistically diverse students for all or most of their academic subjects.
    • It uses the other language for 50% of the academic instructional time.
    • What are the goals for students in the DLP?
    • Meet or exceed NY State and City standards.
    • Develop proficiency in their first language.
    • Develop proficiency in their second language.
    • Attain a higher level of self-esteem.
    • Develop an appreciation for cultural diversity.

    How does instruction differ in a DLP?
    • Students in the DLP receive the same content-area instruction and follow the same units of study in all subjects as do other classes in our school.
    • We plan to follow a 50/50 model. Half the daily instructional time is conducted in English, half in French.
    • Literacy and Social Studies are taught in French and in English.
    • Math is taught only in English, but math vocabulary is also taught in French.
    • No instructional content is repeated in translation.
    • Specialty subjects (Science, Physical Education, Art and Music) are taught in English by our specialty teachers.

    Enrollment priority in both language categories is given to children in our school zone. Most children who enter the program in Kindergarten will continue in the program through fifth grade. There is no dual language program in pre-Kindergarten.
    All French-dominant or bilingual students applying for the 2009-2010 school year as will be tested by school staff for fluency in French. SPACE IS STILL AVAILABLE!!! Testing will take place at PS 151 after school in September of 2009. You may make an appointment for testing with our parent coordinator. For more information, contact Naida Ryans, Parent Coordinator at 347-563-4254, or by email at
  • Bonjour!
    je suis professeur de FLE ayant une Maîtrise FLE ainsi qu'une Licence d'anglais. Outre mes qualifications, j'ai une solide expérience en France comme à l'étranger. Je bataille dur pour trouver une école qui veuille sponsoriser mon visa. En effet, mon profil est très intéressant pour beaucoup d'écoles désespérées de trouver des professeurs qualifiés natifs et parlant aussi parfaitement anglais mais bien que je sois extrêmement motivée pour cette expatriation, je ne parviens pas à être recrutée car je n'ai pas de visa de travail ou de Green card...en clair, je ne suis pas déjà sur place...alors que faire?
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