By Aude Quiroga, bilingual Admissions Director at the French American School of Princeton and mother of three trilingual children
You may be wondering why you should consider a bilingual school. You may ask what ways are they different from other types of independent schools, or what does it mean to be accredited by the French Ministry of Education?
French-American Schools Belong to a Large Network in the U.S. and Abroad
French-American schools have opened throughout the U.S., as more families realize the benefits of bilingualism, the excellence of their academic curriculum, and the richness of their diverse community. There are 47 French-American schools in the U.S., enrolling over 17,500 students in 21 states. These schools have received U.S. accreditation by regional independent school associations, as well as by the French Ministry of Education, which makes them stand out and part of a wider network of schools, the AEFE network, with schools in 137 countries.
With harmonized curricula, it makes moving from one French-American school to another easy. For working families following professional opportunities nationally or internationally, this extensive network guarantees continuity in their children’s education. It makes enrolling your child in a French accredited school a sustainable long-term venture.
French-American Schools: A Standard of Excellence
French-American Schools compare to the best American public and independent schools. They have a rigorous and balanced curriculum, combining the best practices of both systems, French and American, with a structured learning that encourages self-confidence, creativity, and mutual respect. Students become fluent in a second language and benefit from all the cognitive advantages of bilingualism, such as increased problem-solving skills, memory, and self-discipline. Many studies concur that math and verbal SAT scores increase with years of foreign language study.
The teaching of academic subjects in French or English also exposes students to two thought systems and scientific approaches: the deductive method –often used by the French– and the inductive method. The deductive method looks to test a theoretical hypothesis while the inductive ones start with data and try to generate new theories. This exposure to two thought systems allows students to learn new concepts in different ways; it broadens their understanding and makes them think more creatively.
French-American Schools: A Welcoming and Diverse Community
French-American schools are not reserved for French or French-speaking expatriate families. They welcome a diverse community with dozens of different nationalities, many bicultural families, as well as local American families eager to give to their children a global understanding of the world and expose them to multiculturalism. In a diverse school setting, where families, faculty, and staff come from all over the world, students are curious and excited to learn about each other’s culture and heritage. Children feel valued for who they are. They feel secure in their identity, which boosts their self-confidence.
Faculty, staff, and students at French-American schools welcome new families every year. They are attentive to the fact that new students feel accepted in their new community in order to ensure a smooth transition. It is much easier when your child is not the only new student, and when other students remember that, not long ago, they were the new ones.
Beyond teaching language skills, French-American schools provide students with a global understanding of the world, making them more open-minded, more creative, and better problem-solvers. The diversity of their communities allows its members to grow confident and tolerant. Students can comfortably project themselves wherever life may take them. French-American schools prepare students to be at home in the world.