I have known Blake Ramsey for almost 10 years when he started teaching in French bilingual programs in New York City. I have watched him grow as an educator, impressed by his consistency and professionalism, as well as his dedication to French dual-language education. He has now embarked in a new mission, carrying the torch of French dual-language education even further, and joining the team at Fort Greene Preparatory Academy in Brooklyn for what promises to be one of the best French dual-language middle school programs in an American public school. Below are his answers to my questions. Read my interview on NewYorkinFrench.
St. John’s University hosted my talk on the Bilingual Revolution and the future of education and I enjoyed every minute of it! I was asked to present in French so that everyone in the audience, which included students and faculty from all over the world, could put themselves through an immersive experience in a language that was not theirs. Professor Puig was there to provide some translation when I felt the students needed some help. This bilingual talk idea worked out well. The students seemed to play along and accepted the challenge. They experienced bilingual education firsthand. The next day, I heard from one student from Colombia who said she was able to understand everything. This is what she writes: “I took two courses [of French] in college but until last night I had not been able to prove to myself whether or not I could actually understand the language in a real life setting – and I could….” Kudos to Dean Katia Passerini and Basilio G. Monteiro for coming up with this idea and for inviting me. You might have started a new kind of experience!
Parents in Manhattan won an important victory and were able to convince schools authorities about creating a French dual-language program in a public school in the Upper East Side. Their journey, which started two years ago, has culminated in a series of recent meetings with elected officials, school leaders, and community leaders. Hailing from a number of countries, some parents want access to English or French and the equal opportunity they provide. Others want to sustain their heritage, and utilize bilingual education as a tool to do so. Others are interested in the benefits of bilingualism for cognitive development. Others are interested in the acquisition of a second, third, or fourth language because of the professional opportunities and advantages it will yield. Ultimately, these perspectives share the same goal: to create a multilingual society with greater access to languages and cultures.
The latest U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey reports that 1,203,941 people in the U.S. speak French at home.This includes speakers of French Patois and Cajun. These individuals are over 5 years old (count another 4.6% if you want to include children under 5, or 55,380 children). Despite a drop since my last count, French is still the fifth most common non-English language spoken in U.S. households, after Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, and Tagalog.
Full house in support of more French dual-language programs in New York organized by Stephane Lautner, a French-American parent who has worked tirelessly to create a new program in Manhattan. Salle pleine pour les programmes bilingues de New York avec une réunion organisée par Stéphane Lautner, un parent franco-américain qui travaille sans relâche pour créer un programme à Manhattan.
Si le français revit ces dernières années en Louisiane, on le doit notamment à Joseph Dunn, qui se bat depuis des années, avec d’autres, pour le bilinguisme et la défense du français. Lorsque la Louisiane est entrée dans l’Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie l’an dernier, “mon rêve est devenu réalité” dit-il.
French artist Hervé Tullet has done it again! This time he has touched two school communities in Manhattan: P.S. 84 The Lillian Weber School of the Arts and Lafayette Academy (M.S. 256). Both schools boast a French dual-language program and now a beautiful collection of artworks painted by the entire community. Even an entire wall was unveiled, showing the impact of art in getting a community closer together.
I am thrilled to keynote during DC’s upcoming Multilingual Education Fair on January 26. Co-sponsored by the key education institutions of the District, the fair features 100 exhibitors covering 12 languages to allow you to explore and deepen your linguistic and cultural skills, and learn about careers where language skills are crucial. The Fair will be located on the Gallaudet University campus at the I. King Jordan Student Academic Center (800 Florida Ave NE, Washington DC 20002).
I enjoyed this talk with the students of the Institute of French Studies at New York University. I was invited by Prof. Frédéric Viguier who is encouraging his students to look into bilingual education and the impact it can have on various linguistic communities.