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Wednesday, January 22, 2020

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CODOFIL support immersion

CODOFIL support immersion

On a recent trip down Bayou Lafourche on down to Grand Isle, I was not surprised to encounter quite a number of French speakers. We at the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana (CODOFIL) have always known that your neck of the marshes is arguably the most French in French Louisiana.

And speaking of marshes, how about the return of the once endangered Louisiana alligator! The state says that gator egg harvesters are required to return 12% of the new hatchlings to their natural habitat in the marshes. The strategy worked because gators are now thriving.

Similarly, the Louisiana French-speaker (Cajun, Native American, Creole, etc.) may also be considered an “endangered species.”

How much of the tourism industry in Louisiana is dependent on our French brand? What are our plans for sustaining the authenticity of that brand with future Louisiana speakers of French who will faithfully interpret our values, our way of life?

Everything and everyone has an expiration date.

Why couldn’t we – why shouldn’t we – do as much for our children as we do for our reptiles? Allow students the opportunity to learn their ancestral language and leverage it for careers in the 21st century. Replenish the marshes.
Lafourche Parish has a wonderful French as a second language program taught by very competent teachers. But up, down and across the bayou, French is not a foreign language.

Another model that has been in Louisiana for over 30 years is French immersion where students are not taught French but they are taught in French. By the 3rd grade they are functionally bilingual and perform on achievement tests as well, if not better, than their monolingual peers.

There are close to 5,000 of these French immersion students in the state today and every one of them is on a fast track to an exciting future. Not in Houston. Not in Atlanta. Right here where they want to be: in Louisiana.

If we could have a minimum of 12% of future Lafourche leaders and entrepreneurs fluent in French and plowed back into the natural habitat of French Louisiana (through the local economy), we, too, will thrive.

CODOFIL stands ready to help develop this unique renewable resource.

Charles Larroque
Directeur exécutif, CODOFIL