May 19, 2016

State Officials Sign Foreign Language Educational Agreement with France

BATON ROUGE, La. – The Louisiana Department of Education announced the number of State-Certified World Language Immersion Schools in the state nearly doubled through the designating of six additional schools. The designation, created through Act 361 of the 2013 Regular Legislative Session, is based on overall excellence in offering high-quality, highly-effective world language immersion learning and teaching. Louisiana has 39 foreign language immersion schools, 14 have earned the prestigious distinction of being State-Certified World Language Immersion Schools including the following recently-designated schools:

Iberia Parish:

North Lewis Elementary School (French Immersion)

Lafayette Parish:

Lafayette High School (French & Spanish Immersion)
Evangeline Elementary School (French Immersion)

Alice Boucher Elementary School (Spanish Immersion)

Myrtle Place Elementary School (French Immersion)

St. Martin Parish:

Cecilia Primary School (French Immersion)

“Louisiana’s history and continued use and promotion of French and other foreign languages enables us to easily participate not only in the English-speaking world but also in the French, Spanish, or Mandarin-speaking world – economically, culturally, and politically,” said State Superintendent John White. “Children in many countries already grow up multilingual. These Louisiana schools are providing a great benefit in preparing Louisiana’s students to compete in the global economy.”

Research has shown learning a second language has a positive effect on intellectual growth and increased awareness of diverse cultures through access to history, art, and literature. Students in world language immersion have been shown to demonstrate enhanced cognitive functions in solving complex problems and mathematical computations through the development of more divergent and higher order thinking skills.

“The ability to understand and speak more than one language is not the only benefit of immersion education,” said State Senator Eric LaFleur of Ville Platte, author of Act 361. “Research shows that students gain additional cognitive, academic benefits particularly in math and English. Louisiana is a national leader in immersion education.”

“CODOFIL is proud to have accompanied these outstanding newly certified French immersion sites in their effort to become the preeminent centers of Louisiana’s highly regarded French language programs,” said Charles Larroque, Director of the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL). “These innovative French immersion administrators, teachers, students, and communities are well ahead of the curve in matters of education and economic development with heritage languages.”

Louisiana’s first four schools were designated in 2014. Schools earning the designation consistently meet criteria developed by the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education (BESE) including high-quality immersion language time, protection of the written and oral forms of the immersion language within teaching time, immersion language teachers possessing native-like fluency, and visibility and recognition of the immersion language throughout the school. 

The process to earn the State-Certified World Language Immersion School designation begins with a signed application for the site which includes teaching schedules and evaluation questionnaires from language immersion teachers, English Language Arts teachers at the site, and the principal. Auditors schedule a school visit to verify the application using a rubric. The auditors then meet with the school principal to offer final evaluation of the rubric. A final score of 80 percent or higher on the total number of possible points earns the school the designation of a State-Certified World Language Immersion School. Louisiana is the only state with an immersion certification process.

Each State-Certified World Language Immersion School receives a seal of excellence from BESE to affix to documents, school publications, and letters. The state-certified status is valid for three years. All immersion schools, public and private, are eligible to apply for state certification.

Just this week, Louisiana reaffirmed its commitment to foreign language education as officials from the Lieutenant Governor’s Office and the Louisiana Department of Education signed an educational cooperation agreement with The Academy of Martinique, solidifying a language immersion partnership between Louisiana and France. The four-year agreement provides for exchange programs in elementary, secondary, and post-secondary schools to help better prepare language educators and students in both countries.

“The historic new beginnings of a French West Indies-Louisiana relationship will certainly impact many of our Louisiana stakeholders – especially those who have been until now marginalized in the area of 21st century global economic opportunities,” said Larroque. “Louisiana’s Afro-Caribbean roots are positioned now to flourish with this exciting new cross-pollination inspired by our common Caribbean Basin Creole traditions.”

For a full list of all State-Certified World Language Immersion Schools, please click here.

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