A Bilingual Education for an English-Speaking Family: Evelyn Morison’s Story
“Why should I learn French when we live in the US and speak English?” asked six-year-old Evelyn Morison when her parents enrolled her at French American School of Princeton (FASP) in First Grade to begin her bilingual education. It’s a question asked by many English-speaking families when exploring private school options in Princeton, NJ.
For over 20 years, French American School of Princeton, located at 75 Mapleton Road in Princeton, has been a leader in bilingual education for children in Preschool to Eighth Grade.
With a strong focus on language acquisition in the early years, students become bilingual, learning in French and in English throughout their time at FASP. FASP Students in Preschool through Third Grade do not need to have any prior knowledge of French to enroll.
Bilingual Education From a Parent’s Perspective
“Why not French? was how we thought about the question,” said Katherine Hieronymus, Evelyn’s mother, who was born and raised in Atlanta, GA, speaking only English. “It’s the same approach to any academic pursuit – why do kids learn math or science? Why take music lessons? Why sports?”
“The choices that we make for our children, and with our children, shape them into the adults they will become. We strongly felt that a bilingual education will give Evelyn unique and desirable opportunities academically, culturally, and professionally as she grows up and navigates an increasingly multicultural world,” continued Katherine. “Our family has been fortunate enough to take advantage of international travel and the opportunity to live abroad. Evelyn’s language skills contribute to her confidence,” said Katherine.
FASP Accelerated Immersion Program
Evelyn was part of FASP’s Accelerated Immersion Program designed specifically for students in Grades One to Three. Students in the program are not required to have any prior knowledge of French and are typically native English speakers at home. “Now in Fifth Grade, Evelyn is fluent in both English and French, said Ben Morison, Evelyn’s father, a UK native who moved to NJ in 2009 and where he now teaches at Princeton University. “Now that she can speak, read, write – and even dream – in French, she has set her sights on learning other languages. Spanish, Italian, German, and Portuguese are on her list! Her experiences at FASP have inspired a deep love of learning, an appreciation of culture, and the confidence to know that she can master these skills,” says Ben.
“Families who do not speak French at home often question how they can support their children in their bilingual education,” says Dominique Velociter, FASP Head of School. “FASP’s proven dual language program provides the necessary structure to ensure that students learn and use both languages throughout the school day, every day. Students with no prior knowledge of French can also access additional supports through homework help, after school programs, and extracurricular activities to ensure their success,” continued Dominique.
“Evelyn’s bilingual educational journey is something that she owns,” said Katherine. “It has taught her resilience and has given her a great sense of accomplishment.”
Benefits of Bilingual Education at FASP
FASP provides its dual language education in a very unique environment. “With over 30 countries represented and 20 different languages spoken among families, faculty, and staff, FASP models the multicultural world into which our graduates will enter and thrive,” said Dominique.
Studies consistently show that a bilingual education has many benefits including:
- Improved cognitive development: Bilingual education has been shown to improve cognitive skills such as problem-solving, critical thinking, and creativity.
- Enhanced language proficiency: Bilingual education helps students develop proficiency in more than one language, allowing them to communicate with a wider range of people.
- Improved cultural understanding: Bilingual education helps students develop an appreciation for diverse cultures and a greater understanding of the world.
- Improved academic achievement: Studies have shown that bilingual students have higher academic achievement and better grades than their monolingual peers.
- Increased career opportunities: Bilingualism can lead to increased job opportunities and higher earning potential, especially in today’s global economy.
- Better cognitive flexibility: Bilingual education can help improve cognitive flexibility and increase mental agility, which can benefit students in many areas of life.
FASP’s rigorous and meaningful blend of the French and American curricula meets and exceeds both French governmental and New Jersey Public School standards-based requirements. FASP is accredited in the US by the Middle States Association and in France by the Ministry of Education.
FASP incorporates both academics, including literature, science, STEM, art, music, physical education and social-emotional learning, and the careful selection of highly qualified educators who steward students through their academic journeys. FASP is committed to a program of academic excellence designed to train the mind, strengthen the character, and enrich the spirit of each student through the benefits of bilingual learning.
With between 150-180 students, FASP is small by design to ensure that students and their families are supported in their bilingual education. FASP takes pride in the multicultural community of families who value the gift of a bilingual education and come together to support our mission. FASP graduates are extremely well prepared for high school and attend many prestigious International, American or French private or public schools following graduation.
If you would like more information about French American School of Princeton, please call 609-430-3001, email email@example.com, or visit the website at www.ecoleprinceton.org.