Bilingual Education for a Multilingual Family: The Jalalian Rashidi Family’s Experience at FASP
“I never imagined that sending my son to a French bilingual school would be the key to unlocking his ability to speak Farsi at home!” exclaimed Sanaz Jalalian, parent of two sons currently attending French American School of Princeton (FASP).
Daniel and Liam Rashidi, currently in 8th Grade and 4th Grade at FASP, speak English and Farsi at home with their parents, Sanaz Jalalian and Saeid Rashidi. “Liam started at FASP in Kindergarten not knowing one word of French,” said Sanaz. “Growing up in NJ, the boys have learned English and we have always spoken both English and Farsi at home. As Liam began to learn French at FASP, something happened in his brain that he was able to differentiate languages and although we knew he could understand Farsi, we were delighted to finally hear him speak the language that my husband and I had both grown up with.”
Bilingual Education at French American School of Princeton
French American School of Princeton is a bilingual, coeducational, day school for grades preschool through Eighth. Located on Mapleton Road in Princeton, FASP has been a leader in bilingual education for over 20 years.
“It’s not uncommon for FASP families to be multilingual,” said Dominique Velociter, FASP Head of School. “We have a wonderful and unique multicultural environment at the school,” continued Dominique. It’s a mix of American families who only speak English at home, families from all over the world who speak French as their primary language already, as well as families from a wide variety of countries speaking over 20 languages. What unites us is creating a distinctive learning environment for our students and families that enables each student to be truly bilingual by the time they graduate so that they are able to engage in and succeed in today’s complex world.”
Making a Bilingual Education Choice
For the Jalalian Rashidi family, the decision to send their sons to FASP was made the moment they arrived on campus and felt and experienced the warm, caring, and supportive culture that is the hallmark of the school. “Daniel was enrolled in public school in the gifted and talented track. We knew he needed an even more challenging academic program that we felt a bilingual education at FASP could provide. The school’s academic reputation was – and continues to be – outstanding,” said Sanaz. “What we didn’t expect was the unbelievable multinational, multicultural community that has evolved at FASP. My sons have developed a wonderful and close-knit community of friends. Everyone from school administrators, teachers, parents, and students are so supportive and welcoming. We have also developed what we know are lifelong friendships because of our relationships at FASP,” said Sanaz.
FASP class sizes are small to foster independent thinking, creativity, and community. The FASP curriculum, taught in English and French, is accredited in both the US and by the French Government, bringing the best of each countries’ educational systems to the school. FASP class sizes allow for:
- Personalized Attention: In a smaller school, teachers can provide personalized attention to each student, which can make them feel seen, heard, and valued. Students can also form closer relationships with their teachers, as well as with their classmates.
- Community: A smaller school creates a sense of community, where everyone knows each other and feels like they belong. Students can form strong bonds with each other, which can create a sense of safety and comfort.
- Familiarity: A smaller school can feel more familiar and less overwhelming than a larger school. Students can get to know the layout of the building, where their classrooms are located, and who their teachers are more easily, which can reduce anxiety and stress.
- Flexibility: Smaller schools can be more flexible in their approach to education, allowing teachers to tailor their instruction to meet the needs of individual students. This can create a more dynamic and engaging educational environment.
Success at FASP
Both Daniel and Liam are flourishing at FASP. Daniel recently competed in the NJ Regional Middle School Science Bowl at Princeton Plasma Labs and won the FASP Debate Club Abasssadeurs en Herb contest, sponsored by the AEFE (Agency for French Education Abroad). This is a worldwide tournament celebrating eloquence, multilingualism, the art of communicating and persuading in bilingual schools. He now qualifies for the North American final to be held in San Francisco in May.
“We are so proud of both of our sons and what they have accomplished so far,” said Sanaz. “As they continue to grow and develop we are excited to see where their bilingual education takes them. Daniel is exploring a variety of private high schools for next year to continue the high academic standards set at FASP and Liam is excited to transition to Fifth Grade. Our family is deeply appreciative of all that FASP has done for our sons.”
If you would like more information about French American School of Princeton, please call 609-430-3001, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the website at www.ecoleprinceton.org.