The benefits of bilingual education are now recognized by all. Alongside greater open-mindedness and improved cognitive and intellectual agility, those who benefit from bilingual education are better positioned to access top-tier universities and gain entry into an increasingly global job market.
Bilingual programs are developing rapidly, and distinguishing feature of these programs is that they are primarily established in public schools. For reasons that are evident, many bilingual tracks are English-Spanish; however, English-French and English-Chinese tracks also comprise the upper ranks as the three most common program types. The numbers speak for themselves: in 2000, there were an estimated 260 bilingual programs. Currently, there are over 2,000 programs identified by the National Association for Bilingual Education (NABE) according to the most recent survey, and the numbers continue to climb.
The French language plays an important role in this new phenomenon. As the second most-taught foreign language in the United States after Spanish, its influence within the American educational system continues to grow, particularly across the network of bilingual schools that reaches over 25,000 students. Today, 87 cities in 28 states offer English-French bilingual programs in over 140 schools. Louisiana has officially announced its objective to increase the number of students in French bilingual programs from 5,000 to 25,000 within the next five years. Since the beginning of 2016 alone, three schools in Arizona, Texas, and Utah have announced the launch of new Francophone bilingual programs.
In 2007, FACE became an important partner in the launch of French bilingual schools in New York. A grant-making program within FACE, the French Dual Language Program in New York, has been created to promote the development of English-French bilingual tracks within New York public schools.
Recognizing the momentum behind French bilingual education in the United States, FACE has recently launched an ambitious program: the Fund for French Dual Language and Immersion programs in the United States, which aims to create a fund for French bilingual education across the United States and build an enduring network of schools anchored firmly within the American educational landscape.