Nearly 2 million. That is the number of people who speak French in the United States today. They come from Europe and Canada, as well as Haiti and Africa.
With an expected 800 million French speakers in the world by 2050, and 83% of them living in Africa, French is not only a fast-growing international language, it is an increasingly multicultural language that can only be an asset to the future of our students, and a resource that should not be wasted for their communities.
For many of these French speakers, maintaining this first or second language is often a challenge, especially for new immigrants and disadvantaged families. Because they are focused on English acquisition, the French speaking students tend to lose their French very quickly when they arrive in the US. However, research proves that bolstering a first language accelerates the learning of a second language, like English! The French Heritage Language Program was created to prevent this loss and foster native language use.
Created in 2005, the main goal of the French Heritage Language Program (FHLP) is to help francophone immigrants and young Americans with francophone background to maintain their linguistic and cultural heritage. For more than 11 years now, it has been dedicated to supporting underserved French-speaking youths making French an asset for new Americans.
Today, the program is present in 4 of New York City’s 5 boroughs, and offers workshops in 10 schools within the Internationals Network for Public Schools, in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. More than 200 NYC students now partake in the FHLP activities every year. Moreover, the program’s success in New York has led to expanding classes in other states and including Boston, Maine, Miami and Philadelphia.
In 2005, the president and founder of the program, Jane Ross, who had recently retired from a long career at the Lycée Français de new York, began a collaboration with the French Cultural Services in New York to explore ways to offer French courses to some of the many African and Haitian immigrants who had no access to French courses in New York City.
Walking by the Manhattan International High School where she had been told there were no French speakers Jane Ross encountered a group of African teenagers chatting about what to do after school… in French! A rapid return to the school and a conversation with the principal convinced all parties to launch the first free French after school program in Manhattan.
The Manhattan International High School, as a member of the Internationals Network for Public Schools, became the first of many partnership school that have served over 1500 students over the past 11 years since the creation of the program.
Today, the program is present in 4 of the city’s 5 boroughs, and offers workshops in 10 schools within the Internationals Network for Public Schools, in the Bronx, Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan. More than 200 NYC students now partake in the FHLP activities every year. Moreover, the program’s success in New York has led to expanding classes in other states and including Boston, Maine, Miami and Philadelphia.
We have developed a project-based, differentiated pedagogy adapted to the needs of French Heritage speakers.
Our after school programs allow students to reinforce literacy in their home language, accelerate their acquisition of English, and receive greater overall academic support. We create our own teaching resources, mainly based on cultural and artistic projects, and focusing on African and Haitian content to respect and give value to the students’ native cultures. A strong emphasis is also placed on media-awareness, to empower our students with the necessary knowledge to interact with the media-based world in which we live.
We also directly contribute to college readiness by offering preparation for official tests like the Advanced Placement exam in French, which paves our students’ way to higher education by giving them university credits.
In addition to in-class activities, the creative workshops, field trips, and summer camps that we organize offer unique opportunities for our students to interact with francophone artists and university students, as well as to explore major sites and institutions steeped in the French language.
The FHLP expands Francophone horizons.
Jane Flatau Ross
Chairman, Advisory Board
Vice President, Alfred and Jane Ross Foundation
Maître de conférences en Sciences du langage
Former United Nations delegate, Médecins Sans Frontières
Inspectrice déléguée d’anglais, OIB American Section Professor of English Vassar College
Professeur à l’IUFM d’Alsace
Membre du Teacher Education for the Support of Second Language Acquisition (TESSLA)
Hédi A. Jaouad
Associate Professor of French, Skidmore
Editor of Revue CELAAN, a journal to the study of the literatures and arts of North Africa.
Cultural Service of the French Embassy
University Rector, historian, and professor of modern history, Université de Provence and E.H.E.S.S.
Historian and author
Assistant Dean, Scholars and Fellowships Office, Columbia University
Head of School, Lycée Français de New York
Chantal Manès Bonnisseau
Inspectrice d’académie: Amiens, France.
Former head of Educ. Services for the French Embassy in Washington, DC
Prof. (Em) Paris-Sorbonne
Intercultural consultant and higher education globalist
Chair and Professor of Applied Psychology Co-Director, Immigration Studies NYU Steinhardt School of Education, New York University
Globalization and Education
Co-Director, Immigration Studies, New York University
Proviseur, Lycée Louis-le-Grand
New York City Department of Education
Director, Teacher Preparation Program, Princeton University
Independent Arts and Crafts Professional
Nancy Willard Magaud
President of English Language Schools Abroad (ELSA), France
Organizations and affiliations are listed for identification purposes only
Agnès Ndiaye Tounkara
Magali Herrmann Karrer
Agnès Ndiaye Tounkara