Blog: The Educated Reporter

Immersion Education: Louisiana Students Say Bonjour to French

I wanted to offer a couple of idea for stories to the education writers and reporters who read this blog, starting with a lovely piece out of Louisiana. Associated Press writer Stacey Plaisance found out there’s a waiting list at all 29 of the state’s schools offering immersion language instruction — in French.

I’ve visited immersion schools, which typically offer instruction for half of the academic day in English, and the other half in a foreign language. Spanish is obviously one of the more popular, followed closely by Mandarin. The half-day policy typically extends from the front office to the playground. (For a primer on immersion education, click here.)

How popular are the immersion schools in your area? Are any unusual languages being considered, such as Arabic? What sort of community support are the schools receiving international organizations and civic groups?

If you’re looking for background on French immersion schools specifically, start with the Association of French Schools in North America. For more on the research supporting the benefits of immersion education, take a look at this brief from the American Educational Research Association. The Center for Applied Linguistics also has a useful online resource explaining what parents should know about immersion education.

Now for today’s question: If you could start learning a foreign language today, what would be it be, and why? I’d like to learn Turkish, so that the next time I’m in Istanbul I can talk with students as comfortably as they conversed with me in English.