• What is French Immersion Education?

    “French Immersion” means classroom instruction is entirely in French. Students learn the entire Saint Paul Public Schools curriculum while learning French. A city-wide option, L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion School (pronounced: lay twal dew nor), is open to all Saint Paul  residents.

    Why is immersion education an exciting option for my child?

    A second language is a wonderful gift to give your child. Immersion education is a proven means of stimulating learning that cuts across boundaries of language, socio-economic class, and ethnic groups. Students master grade-appropriate subject content, become fluent in the target language, develop English-language skills at or beyond standards set for English-only programs, and learn to understand and appreciate world cultures.

    Why French?

    French is the second most frequently taught language, worldwide,after English. A global language, it is used for communication on five continents. French is spoken by tens of millions of Africans and Asians, and is the primary language of France as well as several other European countries, much of Canada and the Caribbean.

    French literature is a world treasure, and France itself is the most visited nation on earth with nearly 70 million visitors a year. French is the second most prominent language in the business world. And the French language is also just fun to speak and hear.

    How is academic achievement assessed?

    Continuous assessment is an integral part of classroom instruction. Content taught in French is assessed in French.

    District-wide standardized testing is administered in English.

    What about teaching English language skills?

    English reading and writing instruction begins in the second grade. While students' reading in English may be below grade level in the beginning of the year, the skills they have been acquiring in French transfer to English.

    By the end of the year, most students are reading at grade level, and by the end of fifth grade many students are reading well above grade level.

    Do children need a background in French to enroll?

    NO! The program is designed for non-French speakers. Most students entering the program in kindergarten and first grade have little or no prior French language experience.

    Beyond the first grade level, students seeking admittance need to pass an entrance evaluation. They are expected to be proficient in French appropriate to their grade level. How do the students learn if the teacher doesn't speak English?

    Young children are naturally adept at learning languages. To ensure understanding in the classroom, teachers infuse their lessons with visual, musical and dramatic techniques. The students themselves begin by speaking in English, but as new vocabulary is introduced, they are encouraged to use more and more French. By second grade, French is the primary means of classroom communication.

    Will my child fall behind in English?

    Abundant research shows that learning in a second language actually enhances the child's first language ability. In the early years, immersion students may lag behind their peers on standardized tests given in English, but this is natural, since all classroom instruction is in French.

    By the end of fifth grade their English scores typically climb to equal or surpass their non-immersion peers.

    Will I as a parent have to learn French too?

    Only if you want to! The program assumes that the family is not French speaking, and teachers take this into account when they send notices or work home. But many parents enjoy sharing their child's progress with a second language.

    For some immigrant families, the French language is also a valued way of passing a cultural heritage from parent to child.

    How can I be involved in my child's education if I don't speak French?

    Parents are encouraged to be involved in their child's education as much as possible - taking advantage of enrichment opportunities, and spending time reading together in English.

    Homework can be a learning experience for the whole family, since many students enjoy sharing the work they are doing in school, performing stories, poems and songs they have learned, and teaching their parents how to pronounce their spelling words correctly.

    There are many volunteer opportunities at school. Many parents enjoy spending time in their child's classroom as well, helping the teacher with “behind the scenes” classroom projects and special events, and volunteering in the library and at PTO functions.

    Are teachers in the immersion program native speakers of French?

    The school seeks a balance of native French speakers and American-born teachers. All the teachers communicate at a native or near-native level. Many of the American teachers have traveled and lived extensively abroad.

    In addition, L'Etoile du Nord French Immersion School is fortunate to host visiting Teacher Interns. These are typically young adults from around the world who come to Saint Paul for a year to share their language and cultures with our students.

    Does the school offer full-day pre-kindergarten?

    Yes!  All-day pre-k and half day programs allows students' language skills to develop more quickly. In this way, students are more prepared for academic subjects and still have plenty of time for play and social interaction. Full day kindergarten is also offered.

    Can I enroll my child if I don't live in the school district?

    Yes. L'Etoile du Nord is open to all children in the metropolitan area. However, preference is given to students who live in the district.

    I'm interested! What should I do next?

    We encourage you and your child to visit the school before making a decision. Tours are given on a regular basis between November and April. Call the school office to set up an appointment.

    Parents wishing to place their kindergarten or first grade child in the program are required to complete a “city wide option” enrollment form and submit it to the district placement office. Brochures are mailed to all Saint Paul residents in January and can also be obtained from the Student Placement Center