CALCASIEU PARISH, LA (KPLC) - During a recent economic visit to Southwest Louisiana, French Consul of New Orleans Jean-Claude Brunet visited students enrolled in the French Immersion program at Prien Lake Elementary in Lake Charles.
"I am amazed by the quality and excellence of this education," Brunet said.
There are seven schools in Calcasieu Parish that host the French Immersion program. Students enroll in the program in kindergarten and matriculate through high school. As they learn traditional curriculum, the students also study and celebrate French influence and language.
"They need to learn English and French at the same time," Brunet said. "Really be immersed early on in the language. They don't have the barriers to speak another language that you might have later on."
Dr. Jennifer Zambrano is a world language consultant for the Calcasieu Parish School Board.
"All of science, math, social studies, art are taught in French, the target language," Zambrano said. "So they spend almost 60 percent of their day in the target language."
The program is structured to help students become well versed in French culture and language by the time they graduate high school. It's a goal Zambrano and Brunet agree, is paramount.
"In 40 years, which is not a long time from now, one billion inhabitants of our planet will speak French," Brunet said. "So it's a good investment in our future."
"Our students have the ability to learn another language so they can communicate with people around the world," Zambrano said. "It also opens job opportunities for our students so it's a very valuable program."
There are also a number of schools who host a Spanish Immersion program. In total, there are just over 800 students enrolled in the immersion programs in Calcasieu Parish.
For more information on the program, visit www.cpsb.org.