FAQ

This page contains answers to commonly-asked questions about FASP and its dual-language program:

Bilingual education and the dual language curriculum at FASP

a) Scientific evidence
Professor Fred Genesee (McGill University, Montreal), world renowned specialist of the effects of bilingualism on childhood learning, presents “The Benefits of Bilingualism and Bilingual Education: Communication, Cognitive, and Cultural Advantages”.

Dr. Fred Genesee Presentation (in english)

b) Cognitive advantages
In the past twenty years, there has been a flurry of interest in the specifically cognitive benefits of second language acquisition. Bilingual children show numerous cognitive gains in comparison with monolingual peers, including:

  • increased intellectual flexibility
  • greater capacity for abstract thinking
  • increased selective attention or “executive function”
  • increased creativity
  • superior academic performance
  • a broader vocabulary in both languages
  • better overall communication skills
  • increased math, logic and problem solving skills

c) Linguistic advantages
For years linguists have noted that a bilingual childhood usually leads to a multilingual adulthood. Once a child is proficient in two languages, his or her brain has developed a foundation for further linguistic acquisition, what some specialists call a “multilinguistical consciousness.”

d) Cultural advantages
In the 21st century, linguistic and cultural agility are more essential than ever. At dual language schools such as FASP, students are immersed in the global community. They are exposed to many cultural perspectives, opening them to limitless opportunities for learning and personal growth.

a) Pedagogical advantages
French and American schools each have strengths for which they are known the world over.

The French system is recognized for developing:

  • good work habits
  • synthetic skills
  • analytic skills
  • social graces and respect for the group
  • team work

The best American pedagogy strives to nurture the child’s:

  • self-esteem with encouragement
  • unique personality with positive reinforcement
  • original ideas
  • creativity and innovation
  • enthusiasm for learning

FASP harmonizes these two approaches to education.

b) Cultural and interpersonal advantages of the FASP curriculum

  • Our student body comes from all over the world; FASP families represent more than 30 countries.
  • FASP chooses to highlight the individual richness of each student’s cultural heritage.
  • The mission of the school is to view each culture as an additional opening for learning and discovery.

c) Cultural Advantages of French/English bilingualism

  • English is the most important language in the business and diplomatic world today. With French, English is the only language spoken on a daily basis in schools and in businesses on five continents.
  • French is one of the most important languages in finance, diplomacy, humanitarian and non-profit organizations. With English, it is the only language spoken on a daily basis in schools and in businesses around the world.
  • Francophone culture extends across all the world’s economic and social strata. France has a long history in Western and Eastern Europe, in North America, in the Maghreb and in the Middle East. French is a partner language in emerging nations in sub-Saharan Africa, the Caribbean, and South East Asia.

a) A thoroughly researched and continually evolving process
The rich and stimulating curriculum at FASP is the result of years of research by linguists and educators. It meets the educational standards that ensure its accreditations with both the French Ministry of Education and with Educational organizations in the United States. Furthermore, FASP teachers work together continually to ensure that our programs in the sciences and the humanities complement and harmonize with one another.

b) What are specific examples of this harmonization of programs?

  • Students at FASP are proficient in both the international metric system and the American system of measurements,
  • FASP introduces fractions and probability in in the early elementary years, while instilling early methods of synthesis and analysis in Kindergarten,
  • Formal instruction in Art History begins in 2nd grade, much earlier than in the US system,
  • FASP first-graders improve their reading skills both via French phonetic and syllabic methods and the more global approach to reading frequent in American schools.

For details of our curriculum, see:

c) Will my child “fall behind” peers in monolingual schools?
On the contrary, comments made by the schools which have received former FASP students indicate they are usually:

  • more advanced
  • better organized
  • more well-rounded in their skills
  • better attention skills
  • more confident
  • more respectful of others
  • more innovative

This is not to say that your child at FASP will be doing exactly the same work as he or she would in a monolingual system at the same grade. What you can expect is that the skills he/she learns in one language will transfer to another easily. He/she will have all the tools necessary for a smooth adjustment from FASP to a monolingual school.

d) How do English and French work together at FASP?
Preschool and Pre-K students at FASP learn in French immersion classrooms and are introduced to formal English lessons in Kindergarten. The quantity of subjects taught in English gradually increases until the 4th grade, when 50% of the classes are in English and 50% are taught in French.

a) Do FASP parents need to speak both French and English?
No. It is not necessary for parents to speak both languages.

b) My child doesn’t speak French; can he or she enroll?
Children of all linguistic backgrounds are admitted at FASP from Preschool through Kindergarten. They do not need to speak French at home. However, students attending a non-French school applying to Elementary and Middle School grades will have to take a language proficiency test prior to admission.

c) My child is non-French speaking, how long should he or she attend FASP before becoming bilingual?
We recognize two different types of skills as necessary for bilingualism, each with its own time frame:

  • Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills: This the social and context-bound language that children under 5 learn so quickly, In most cases, a new non-French speaking preschooler at FASP will be habituated to the French linguistic environment within weeks and will speak social French fluently within months.
  • Cognitive-Academic Language Proficiency: This is the language of problem solving, of the imagination, and of reasoning; it is the skill necessary for more evolved adult relationships, for negotiating the workplace as well as for success in the classroom. It generally takes five to seven years to acquire this level of language proficiency.

d) My child doesn’t speak English; can he or she enroll?
The capacity to speak English is not a prerequisite for acceptance into FASP.

e) My child currently does not speak English; how long should he or she attend FASP before becoming bilingual?
All students who spend several years at FASP become bilingual in English and French, whether or not their family speaks English at home. How quickly they do so depends also on the extent their extracurricular life is integrated into the larger English-speaking Princeton community.

Dual language education specialists have determined that the minority language that is, the less spoken in the school’s surrounding community should be valorized in the first years of a child’s academic life. That’s why Preschool and PreK students at FASP learn in French immersion classrooms and are introduced to formal English lessons in Kindergarten. The quantity of subjects taught in English gradually increases until 4th grade, when 50% of the classes are in English and 50% are taught in French.

Questions of community, family and personal life

a) Where do FASP families come from?
Families at the French American School of Princeton come from all around the world. FASP is one of the most nationally, culturally, and linguistically diverse if not the most diverse school community in the Princeton area.

b) Are there any dominant values espoused by FASP?
We are dedicated to cultivating the mind, nurturing the heart and guiding the hand of every student to develop well-rounded global citizens prepared to take on the world:

Cultivating the Mind – critical and independent thinking, creativity, curiosity and open-mindedness
Nurturing the Heart – courage, inclusivity, compassion and respect for peers, the community and the global environment
Guiding the Hand – resilience, teamwork, collaboration among teachers, parents and students, confidence to achieve

c) Why is there a Parents’ Association?
The FASP’s outstanding Parents’ Association is a tremendous asset to the school community, organizing family get-togethers, extracurricular activities for the students and their parents as well as raising funds for specific school goals.

The FASP-PA organizes and provides:

  • the school yearbook
  • school picnics
  • adult events
  • activities for students (dance party, movie night, bowling)
  • activities for the entire family (ice-skating, book fair)
  • coffee mornings
  • annual galas

Fundraising by the FASP-PA helps finance:

  • tools for the science lab
  • library books
  • computers
  • smart boards
  • playground equipment
  • transportation for field trips

Social benefits of the FASP-PA include:

  • assistance in acclimating to the Princeton region for new families
  • a supportive and diverse community
  • lifelong friendships

a) What if my child has learning differences or special needs?
If your child has special needs and you are interested in a dual language education, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss it.

b) Is there anything I can do to improve my child’s experience at FASP?
While your child will quickly learn to speak a second language in social contexts, becoming fully bilingual is a process that takes several years and involves the participation of the whole family. The most important thing you can do to facilitate your child’s success at FASP is to be perseverant, to provide encouragement and well thought out support. Finally, you do not need to become bilingual yourself or to change the language you speak at home.

Here are some ideas for fostering your child’s pride and enthusiasm for his or her school experience:

  • Show confidence in the school and in your child’s dual language development
  • Show curiosity for his/her work and often praise your child’s progress
  • Talk often with your child about the benefits of bilingualism
  • Seek to enrich your child’s language and cultural experience through books, films, playgroups, travel
  • Invite his or her classmates for language “play dates”
  • Attend school events and shows

d ) I work late. How can I help my child with homework?
FASP provides afterschool services which include supervised homework provided by our teachers or staff.

a) Where do FASP teachers come from?
FASP teachers are a diverse team and come from around the francophone world and the United States. They bring to our school a rich life and work experience from various countries.

b) What are the qualifications of FASP teachers and staff?
All teachers have university degrees and teaching credentials. Most French teachers are certified by the French Ministry of Education. All teachers are native speakers of the language they teach.

c) How long can I expect my child’s French teacher to be at the school?
This depends, but as many teachers are not American citizens and must obtain teaching visas with time limitations, every year a certain portion of the staff has to be renewed. Such renewal is par for the course in French-American schools across the United States.

d) How can I reach my child’s teacher?
Appointments are always encouraged and can be arranged easily, as each teacher has his or her own professional email address which is made known to enrolled parents.

a) If we have to move, how can my child continue a bilingual education?
The school is part of a very large and highly acclaimed world network of 480 French schools in 130 countries. In addition, most major metropolitan areas in the United States boast of at least one French-American bilingual school to which the FASP student can smoothly transition.

b) Will my child “fall behind” peers in monolingual schools?
On the contrary, comments made by the schools which have received former FASP students indicate they are usually:

  • more advanced
  • better organized
  • more well-rounded in their skills
  • better attention skills
  • more confident
  • more respectful of others
  • more innovative

This is not to say that your child at FASP will be doing exactly the same work as he or she would in a monolingual system at the same grade. What you can expect is that the skills he/she learns in one language will transfer to another easily. He/she will have all the tools necessary for a smooth adjustment from FASP to a monolingual school.

c) What should we expect once my child has finished his or her years at FASP?
Once your child has finished several years at FASP, you can expect a student who is:

  • self-confident
  • tolerant and interested in others
  • knowledgeable and curious about the world community
  • a flexible and agile thinker
  • well-organized
  • respectful
  • cultured
  • well-rounded in his or her academic foundation
  • prepared for future academic rigor
  • bilingual or multilingual
Logistical questions

a) How do I get to the school?
Please click here to view maps and get driving directions.

b) Is there school bus transportation to and from FASP?
No, not now. School districts are responsible for providing bus transportation to the students. As of today, none of the 12 surrounding school districts provide bus transportation to students of our school. In fact, the community is spread over a radius of 20 minutes around the school, and to date there are not enough students per school district to provide bus transportation. When there is no bus transportation servicing your neighborhood to our school, families may apply to receive payment in lieu of transportation (~$880 per child and per year).

c) If my child does not receive bus transportation from our school district, are there any financial supports for transportation?
Yes. School age children may be eligible to receive a stipend from their Public School Districts to offset transportation costs, provided that:

  • the child lives at least 2 miles and less than 20 miles from the school within the state of New Jersey.
  • a parent sends in a written request for this support for the following year before a specified date in March (the school administration facilitates these requests).

d) Is there a carpool network?
Yes. The school strongly encourages carpooling and publishes a student directory of contact information so that parents can work out car pooling arrangements among themselves.

a) What are the tuition fees at FASP?
Please click here for details about our tuition rates.

b) Is there Financial Aid?
Yes. Need based financial assistance is provided to children with French nationality via the system of scholarships administrated by the French Consulate in New York City. It may be helpful to know that the possibility of receiving financial aid increases with the number of children in the same family enrolled at FASP.

c) Is there anything my child might need as an FASP student that tuition does not cover?

  • Parents provide their children with snack and lunch. Lunch can be either prepared ahead of time or purchased through the school lunch program,
  • Parents should expect to pay about $150 per child per year for the purchase of a backpack, school supplies, sports shoes, hand sanitizer, tissues and other miscellaneous supplies requested by teachers,
  • Parents also pay an annual fee to the Parents’ Association, in order to finance field trips and school events such as school picnics, holiday parties and more rarely, class projects,
  • About twice every year, students participate in field trips with modest fees that are not covered by tuition,
  • Occasionally in the upper grades, a more substantial outing or trip is planned that may cost more,
  • Optional costs: year book, graduation gown and some evening events sponsored by the Parents’ Association.

a) Age and maturity
Children entering Preschool must be three years old by December 31 of the current school year and must be toilet-trained.

b) What is the cut off date for entrance?
You may submit your application for admission for the upcoming academic school year starting November 1st through February 28th. Please submit and return all documents before the deadline to ensure consideration of your application. Applications for admission are accepted throughout the year, but those received after the deadline will be reviewed on a space-available basis.

c) What if my child doesn’t speak French?
Children of all linguistic backgrounds are admitted from Preschool through kindergarten. They do not need to speak French at home. After first grade, students require competency in French and depending on the child’s linguistic and educational background, he or she may be tested for French proficiency.

d) What if my child doesn’t speak English?
The capacity to speak English is not a prerequisite for acceptance into the FASP.

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