Multilingualism & Literacy

Researchers agree that dual-language learners develop better cognitive skills and display a greater capacity for creativity, adaptability, analytical skills, and multitasking. These abilities help explain why these students typically score better in verbal intelligence, conceptualization, and global thinking and why they more easily discover creative solutions to problems. In addition, attending class in a setting of diverse cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds positively affects relationships, attitudes, and behaviors. Students gain an understanding of and appreciation for other cultures.

How we maximize the multilingual learning experience:

FACT: Success in school depends upon the child's command of cognitive/academic language, which is very different from the social language used at home or acquired through traditional language courses:

  • The Lycée provides a French immersion program where the language is taught through oral training, books, music, poetry, math, and science as well as day-to-day cultural/social exposure and exchanges.

FACT: Competence in a first language facilitates the development of second language literacy and academic language skills. The best predictor of proficiency in another language is proficiency in the native language. The native language should therefore be nurtured.

  • We encourage development of the mother tongue to promote cognitive development and as a basis for learning the second language.
  • Our curriculum develops reading and writing skills in English for native English speakers as early as kindergarten.
  • Parents should always speak their native language with their bilingual or multilingual child.

FACT: Children who master multiple languages develop learning strategies that help them when learning additional languages.

  • Our students have the opportunity to learn Spanish and German after 5th grade, when their command of French and English is strong enough.

FACT: Children learn an additional language in different ways depending upon their culture and their individual personality.

With small class sizes and a special focus on well-being and differentiated instruction, our students receive personal attention.

  • Students are regularly tested and evaluated in both languages to assess progress and detect possible learning challenges.
  • We provide tutoring and remedial classes in both languages for those who seek or can be helped with additional support.
  • It is not necessary for the parents to speak French for their child to become fluent in French.

FACT: The development of cognitive/academic language requires time. It takes four to seven years of formal instruction to reach complete fluency.

  • To reap the maximum benefits of this dual-language, multicultural experience, schooling at the Lycée should be viewed as a long-term experience.
  • Parents' understanding of the challenges and benefits of dual-language education is essential.

FACT: Students fluent in multiple languages consistently outperform their peers on standard language and academic achievement tests.

  • The success of our students exemplifies this academic achievement. They are routinely accepted by some of the most prestigious universities in North America and Europe.

How non-French speaking families can support French language acquisition:

Parents do not need to speak French for their children to progress at the Lycée, but they can and should encourage the use of French outside of school. Here are some ways to support the learning process.

  • Subscribe to French children's magazines. Our librarian helps select age-appropriate publications.
  • Starting in 1st grade, encourage children to visit the library regularly and check out French books to read at home.
  • Buy, rent, or borrow French videos or music (DVDs, CDs)
  • Subscribe to a TV network that offers TV5, the international francophone TV station.
  • Use French-speaking babysitters.
  • Host French-speaking high school students from the Lycée.
  • Participate with your children in French cultural activities.
  • Organize play dates with French-speaking families of the Lycée.
  • Have older children develop pen-pal relationships with francophone children.
  • Take trips to French-speaking countries.
  • Send your children to French summer camp.
Lycee Francais de Chicago|613 West Bittersweet Place Chicago, IL 60613|T: 773.665.0066 F: 773.665.1725
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