The French Ambassador visits an immersion school in Louisiana


LAFAYETTE, Louisiana (AP) – Nestled in an oak-lined neighborhood of Lafayette is Myrtle Place Elementary, where more than 350 children from kindergarten to grade five learn in French.

The school is one of the few schools in the state to be considered a full French immersion school, meaning that everything rather than a percentage of daily instruction takes place in the target language. He does this with administrators and teachers from 11 different countries and Louisiana.

“One thing that’s amazing about Myrtle Place is that it has teachers from all over the world and from Louisiana,” said Matt Mick, public information officer at the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana ( CODOFIL). “It’s a beautiful representation of the idea that French takes our roots deeply and connects us to the world.

A group of third-graders showed off their language skills on November 29 as they sang on the famous Seine in France for a special visitor to their campus.

Philippe Étienne, French Ambassador to the United States, toured the school alongside Consul General Nathalie Beras, representatives of the Ministry of National Education and officials of the Lafayette parish school system.

Étienne described the school as wonderful and “a very good example of immersion and CODOFIL, which was a great success.

“We can see how important it is for families to revitalize the French heritage tradition and to prepare the future of their children,” said the ambassador. “Speaking fluently is very useful later on in order to find jobs and develop activities in culture and tourism. I was very impressed and moved by the dedication and enthusiasm of the manager and staff and seeing the children speak French naturally.

Lafayette Elementary School began its progression to become a full-fledged immersion school in 2015 when it started enrolling only immersion students. This school year marks the second year for the school to have all classes in French.

“French immersion is really the driving force behind the development of francophones in America today,” said Mick. “If we are not going to have it at home, it has been decided that the school system is the best way. “

In collaboration with CODOFIL through its International Associate Teacher program, the French government has supported the teaching of French as a heritage language in Louisiana for more than 40 years.

The state currently welcomes teachers from the French-speaking world in immersion programs serving more than 5,000 public school students, according to a statement.

“We are proud like France to be here,” said the ambassador. “More than 100 teachers come from France to teach in Louisiana, including here in Lafayette.

Myrtle Place is one of Louisiana’s oldest French immersion schools, and Etienne said it serves as a role model for other parts of the state and the United States to follow.

“(The school) is a shining example of what is possible with immersion,” Mick said.

Principal Catherine Bricelj said she was honored to welcome the Ambassador and the delegation.

“We feel like someone has seen us and the work we’re doing here,” Bricelj said.

The Ambassador’s stopover in Lafayette was part of a tour of Louisiana in collaboration with the Consulate General of France in New Orleans to strengthen the long-standing ties between the state and France.

He was meeting with Lafayette mayor-president Josh Guillory and officials of the Lafayette International Center on Monday before traveling to meet officials in Baton Rouge and New Orleans.