This school year more American students than ever before are learning in a language other than English because of an immersion program.
Here in Acadiana there are French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese programs.
When it comes to French Immersion, Louisiana is one of the leading states, programs date all the way back to the early 1980s.
“Cajun and Creole culture is so strong and part of that culture is of course language.”
The beauty of French Immersion here in Acadiana is the role it plays in connecting students to their French roots.
Peggy Feehan, Executive Director of Council for the Development of French In Louisiana (CODOFIL) says, “Our teachers come from all over the world. So they come with their French accent. What that creates is a population of thousands of kids that understand every accent in the world and that’s wonderful and it’s even more easy for them to catch another accent, the one of their grandparents.”
Speaking to their grandparents and keeping an endangered dialect alive.
Delphine Compouras, president of Alliance Française of Lafayette says, “It’s very important to preserve the origins of a language and with French there comes all kind of traditions, food and customs and all of that is important to pass that along to the next generation and we’re hoping to see that happen.”
CODOFIL goes as far as professional development for their teachers.
Feehan says, “Amanda LaFleur who is from Ville Platte and she’s a retired professor at LSU and she gives our teachers tools and guides dictionaries of words to use in a classroom for to them to grow in their Cajun and Creole language.”
While Alliance Française offers classes. It’s all to make sure Cajun and Creole French are never forgotten.
Compouras says, “We currently have a Creole class with Alliance Française going on online class with a teacher based out of New Orleans, I think it started in October. And then we used to have a Cajun class and we’re probably going to be offering that.”
CODOFIL says there are 5,300 students in the state that are in French Immersion programs. Acadiana represents a third of that number.
If you want to network with other French speaking people, Alliance Française is hosting a potluck Sunday 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Wurst Biergarten in Downtown Lafayette. They’re asking people to bring dishes that represent their French origin.