Nov 8, 2010 7:38 PM by Melissa Hawkes
More than a thousand students are enrolled in language immersion programs in Lafayette parish this school year. The French immersion program first started in Lafayette Parish in 1992. Eighteen years later-- thousands of students, like 6th grader, Tyreon Clay, are bridging the language gap they once had with their grandparents.
"I have a great grandmother who speaks French," he said. "Actually I have a lot of people in my family that speak French, so I can talk with them now."
Clay says learning French in elementary school was surprisingly easy.
He said they would, "basically translate stuff. We didn't even know what we were doing but we were learning in the process.
Elizabeth Delafosse is a kindergarten teacher at Myrtle Place Elementary. Delafosse said, "it's very easy for the children. I think at this age, they are like little sponges."
Only two subjects are taught in English...reading and writing... everything else is taught in French.
Educators say students in the program outshine their regular counterparts.
Delafosse said, "their overall performance on their report cards. I think these children out perform the others."
Students say by the time they reach middle school, they feel so comfortable with the language that they can carry on conversations and even read a book in French.
Paul Breaux sixth grader, Maura Price, said "I can go home and carry on a whole conversation with my grandpa in French."
High school french immersion teacher, Marianne Cheranie, said immersion students have no choice but to pay attention.
Cheranie said, "immersion students are excellent listeners because they have to pay attention to get the content of the lesson."
Lafayette High School Sophomore, Katelyn Garrett, says she hopes being bi-lingual will pay off down the road.
Garrett said, "study abroad in France for awhile, and hopefully help me get a job here in Louisiana."
Kuulei Lindon said it's already helped her.
She said, "I got a job at Breaux's Mart this year because I knew how to speak French."