An Embassy Graduation

Most people can’t say that their 5th grade graduation took place at an Embassy. The students of PS58, PS84, and the New York French-American Charter School are some of the lucky few that can say they did.

On Monday, June 16th, 2014, over 100 children gathered in the auditorium of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, a space usually meant for diplomatic and cultural events. The children filled the building with energy and good spirits, as the three schools celebrated what is certain to be a continuation of six successful years of dual language education.

The success was evident – in the faces of the parents – and in the way that the children were conducted to sing songs, recite speeches, and express their gratitude in both French and English.

The faculty and administration lauded their achievements, proudly encouraging them with words of advice, and factual evidence of the benefits of their bilingual education: at the moment, French is the 2nd most widely spoken language in the world with over 750 million francophones in the world to date. It is the only language, other than English, that is spoken in 5 continents around the world. By the time these graduates are 40, French is to be the most widely spoken language in the world.

These statistics no longer make bilingual education seem like something extraordinary and superfluous – in fact, in the increasingly globalized climate that continues to unite humanity, commonality of language is crucial.

The desire is there: as she addressed her peers, a student from PS84 expressed her aspiration to learn several other languages. Seeing the cross-functional benefits, parents whose children are enrolled in the program are even more supportive of their bilingualism. Sokhna Khady Mbacke, Senegalese mother of graduating twins, claims, ‘my children speak French with me at home. Being in the NYFACS bilingual program not only bettered their French, but also their English and their overall cultural understanding of the world.”

In 30 years, when French is the most widely spoken language in the world, the 5th graders who were not fortunate enough to have a bilingual education are certainly disadvantaged. The truth is that funds and resources can and should be allocated to bridge this educational gap. It is up to administrations, faculty, and parents to make a valuable difference in the future of education.

To learn more about Dual Language programs in New York City and how you can contribute to the Bilingual Revolution, click here.