In the last step of a process which started more than a year ago, the Louisiana Board of Regents met in Baton Rouge on Wednesday, August 22, and allocated the funding required to create a Master’s degree in elementary French immersion education.
A first class of ten students will begin the course at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in May 2019. The combined linguistic and educational program will train U.S. professors to teach basic math and science in French. This will be the second program of its kind in the United States after the one founded at Hunter College in New York in 2011.
The two-year Master’s will take the form of a cooperative training course, with students taking 36 hours of weekly theory classes while also working as assistants in dual-language schools in the Lafayette area. “The new degree is intended to increase the number of teachers qualified to teach French immersion,” stated the University of Louisiana.
Only a minority of immersion teachers employed in Louisiana are from the state. To staff the 33 French-English immersion schools, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) has appealed to international teachers: 47 professionals from France, Belgium, Quebec, and Gabon have been recruited for the 2018-2019 academic year.
“There is a huge need for French immersion teachers in the U.S.,” said Michell Haj-Broussard, the professor of education who helped launch the program. “It’s important to be able to train French immersion teachers here [in Louisiana], where the language is part of our culture.”