LAFAYETTE — The Lafayette Parish School System will make another effort to offer students a second chance to study French immersion through a late-entry immersion class.
The class targets incoming fifth-grade students interested in studying French but who missed the opportunity to enroll in the school system’s French immersion classes at earlier grade levels.
The classes start at the preschool or kindergarten level and students take all of their coursework in the foreign language, except for the English language arts class.
“We might be able to go with it next year. We need 20 students,” said Mario Charest, world language immersion content instructional coach.
So far, at least two parents have expressed interest in the option, he said.
The school system attempted to open a class for fifth-graders for the current school year but a lack of interest and budget concerns stalled its start in 2014-15.
The class option is still dependent upon parental and student interest, as well as the budget, said Nicole Boudreaux, the school system’s world language specialist.
French immersion is offered through the school system’s “schools of choice” option, which allows students to attend specialized learning pathways out of their assigned school zone.
The school system offers more than 20 options at different schools across the parish, though French immersion is the largest with more than 1,200 students. Due to space constraints in immersion, as well as the other school of choice options, students apply for a spot in one of the schools of choice programs.
French immersion students may only enroll at the kindergarten or preschool class level, so the late-entry option opens the door to more students interested in studying French to participate. Some might have been on a waiting list for foreign immersion as a younger student or might have moved into the school district or have a new interest in the language, Boudreaux said.
Ideal candidates for the late-entry class are students who excel in English language arts and are motivated learners, she said. Other countries, like Canada, that offer late-entry immersion classes report that late-entry students’ fluency and competency is on par with their peers by the ninth grade, according to Boudreaux.
Follow Marsha Sills on Twitter, @Marsha_Sills.