The Success of French Dual-Language Programs in the U.S.

Dual-language classes are flourishing in the United States. With more than 160 bilingual programs across 34 states, French is now America’s second most popular foreign language. In New York, one in ten public schools offers a bilingual education. In Utah, one in five schools is bilingual. And in August, Alaska inaugurated its first two dual-language French-English classes.

These bilingual programs are developing in both public and private schools and welcome students of all levels from kindergarten to high school. One of the reasons for this success is that bilingualism offers a number of scientifically-proven advantages, including cognitive benefits, better academic results, fewer school dropouts, increased creativity and critical thinking, open-mindedness and increased cultural awareness.

“More and more studies are being carried out on the impact of bilingualism on the brain,” says Fabrice Jaumont, an educator and author of The Bilingual Revolution: The Future of Education is in Two Languages. “This research has demonstrated that being bilingual is an advantage for cognitive development, social interactions, learning the arts, and succeeding in exams. In math, reading, and writing, the results obtained by bilingual students in standardized state tests are generally better than their monolingual classmates. Parents are increasingly aware of these studies and of the advantages they provide for their children.”

Bilingualism also offers professional advantages. A bilingual employee earns on average 25% more than a monolingual colleague. According to a report from the New American Economy think tank, the number of job offers requiring a command of at least two languages more than doubled in the United States between 2010 and 2015, and French is now the third most sought-after foreign language among U.S. employers, reports the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. “Multilingual candidates are increasingly sought-after on the job market. In our globalized world, being monolingual has become a professional, cultural, and social handicap.”

The dual-language program at the Mark White Elementary School — inaugurated in Houston, Texas, in August 2016 — is already paying dividends. The youngest students are able to recite the alphabet and count to 100 in French. “The bilingual immersion makes all the difference,” says the mother of one American student. “French will be an advantage for our child’s future career.”

=> Discover the latest edition of our French Education Guide, a comprehensive state-by-state listing of French dual-language programs in the U.S.!

  • Koudos to you for all your efforts. As a French teacher in Ghana, the French Education Guide will help me too, to enrich myself to up to task. Vraiment un grand merci à l’équipe.

  • I was educated in a French-Canadian parish school in West Warwick, Rhode Island, from kindergarten through grade 4, 1954-1959. It was half a day in French, half in English. The French half was taught by sisters who barely spoke English, thus they just taught in French. I really didn’t fell confident in speaking, but I was shy in general. I’d read aloud if asked, and as long as I showed I understood and would follow diections, “Oui, ma soeur,” or “Non, merci,” that was enough. I learned to think in French, that is, understanding without translating it in my head. After grade 4, I still studied French, but it was one period a day through high school. In college I majored in French and went on to teach for 28 years. I learned Spanish and taught that as well at the end of my career. Knowing another language enhances your life in many ways.

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