Louisiana kids can now tune in to after-school shows en français, watching the same television programs popular with French-speaking children in Canada.
Louisiana Public Broadcasting, the Council for the Development of French in Louisiana and Groupe Média TFO, a Canadian public media company well known for its educational programs, announced a partnership this week to bring 14 hours a week of French-language shows geared toward children ages 2 to 8 on the LPB2 channel, which is available throughout the state.
CODOFIL Executive Director Charles Larroque said the programs will have a ready audience with the roughly 4,500 French immersion students in the state — a number that has been growing steadily in recent years as immersion programs become more popular.
“It’s to complement what they get in school already and to introduce it to families interested in reviving our heritage language,” he said. “Obviously, we hope that this can be a vehicle in helping us develop interest throughout the state.”
The programming will be served up in a mix of short and varied segments Monday through Friday between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Larroque said the availability of current and fresh French-language programming connects Louisiana students with the larger Francophone world and is a boon for nurturing French immersion education in the state.
“If it’s seen on the small screen, then it becomes normalized,” Larroque said.
Groupe Média TFO President and CEO Glenn O’Farrell, who was in Lafayette on Friday to announce the partnership, said the initial agreement with LPB is for 18 months of programming, but he envisions the relationship strengthening in years to come.
He also hopes to tap Louisiana’s French culture for future programs.
“We would like to see the rich Louisiana voice in our content,” O’Farrell said.
“We are all in this together,” he said
Groupe Média TFO, which is based in Toronto, provides educational programs to an audience of some 2 million students and 30,000 teachers in Canada.
The company’s deal with LPB is the first step in a larger plan to broaden its international market.
“There is remarkable demand for French education content in the world,” O’Farrell said.