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Maternelle and Lower School Language Practices

Maternelle and Lower School Language Practices

Languages of Instruction

French International Maternelle and Lower School are a language immersion program with the target language being French. At the onset of maternelle, teachers and assistants may use French and English to get students used to immersion and make explicit connections between the languages. Students gradually start understanding the French language and after some time will be using a few words and then whole phrases in French. This process and gradual acquisition of the new language are explained and reviewed with parents at all phases of the admissions process.

In preschool through first grade, English teachers work with students to support the development of their English language skills. The English teacher also frequently introduces units of instruction to help make a bridge between languages into more conceptual content.

In the second through fifth grades, French continues to be the target language of instruction with additional time and increasing accountability in English reading and writing. Books and documents in both languages are made available in the classroom and library for support at school and home. In the fifth grade, students have an opportunity to visit France as a class, experience life in a French school, and participate in cultural events and activities there. 

Language Profile of French International Maternelle/Lower School Students

  • Six percent of our students speak an additional language at home (excluding French and English).
  • Six percent of our students speak French at home (from France, Belgium, Canada, and others).
  • At large, 50 different languages are spoken in the homes of our community, including French and English.
  • 88 percent speak American English and within this 80 percent, 20 to 30 percent of these students have one parent who speaks another language and is from another country.

French/English as an Additional Language

The French International Lower School has a program for French as a Second Language (FSL) developed for students who need additional support in French language acquisition beginning in kindergarten. The goals of the FSL program are:

  • The students are comfortable in their classroom, learning simple oral sentences (school vocabulary).
  • Through an ongoing process, the students increase language comprehension, building on word knowledge and going from grasping a word in a sentence to understanding the overall sense of stories or dialogues. 
  • The students can produce simple sentences to express ideas.
  • The students practice French in more diverse contexts. They converse more confidently with adults and friends and make connections between the two languages to meet their needs. 

Individual plans are developed with families for students admitted with limited English language experience. This includes both on-site support and outside support which may include additional fees.

Additional Home Language Support

There are over 50 languages spoken by the parents and students at our school. We strive to have books and resources representing the various languages of students at the French International Lower School. Parents are connected with other families who speak the same languages, as requested, to facilitate home language playdates, etc. Additional methods of supporting home language (when not English or French) are being explored.

Admission to the French International Lower School

In preschool through kindergarten, we do not require prior French or English language skills for students to start the program. A limited number of students are admitted beyond kindergarten, on a case-by-case basis and are given FSL support as needed. 

Teaching and Learning Policies