La Petite Ecole
The Dual-Language Immersion School

FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Dual Language Immersion?
In Dual Language Immersion programs, students learn content through both their native language and the target language. Simultaneous translation is never used.  The teachers at La Petite Ecole speak to the children in French during French class. and the English teachers use English during English class.  Simultaneous translation is never used. 

Why learn a language through immersion?
Research consistently shows that learning a language through immersion is very successful. Through immersion, children acquire native-like accents and learn to think in the target language as opposed to translating in their head. This research has prompted a shift away from teaching language in isolation and toward integrating language and content. Immersion is more effective and natural at any age!

Do I need to be able to speak French in order for my child to enroll?
No, you do not. Young children learn to discriminate between languages and their speakers (or non-speakers) very early on. A bilingual child as young as two will only address a speaker of one language in that language. However, you might seize this opportunity to brush up on your high school French or begin learning it yourself.  We offer four levels of French classes for adults which are fun and interactive.  The benefits of language acquisition at any/all ages are numerous.  You will keep your brain active!

What is unique about La Petite Ecole?
At La Petite Ecole, we not only teach in French and English, but also foster the development of children in all areas. We strongly support teaching responsibility for one's learning, behavior, and actions. We help children become independent – getting dressed, cleaning up after themselves, asking for help when they need it, etc...  This is the Montessori approach.  The children, the teachers, and the families of La Petite Ecole all have a sense of community. Teachers and students genuinely love and respect each other.

Instruction at La Petite Ecole is highly individualized. Typically, there are two or three adults working with  a maximum of 10-12 children.  Students are grouped in classes by age.  However, they are given work at their current level of ability.  Our curriculum is unique and was designed by the School Principal, Joelle Quoirin.  It is constantly revised and improved to best meet the needs of our students.  

How does La Petite Ecole compare to "typical" preschools?
The children at La Petite Ecole participate in "typical" preschool activities: literacy, field trips, circle time, play time, snack – all are aspects of our program.  In addition, we focus on respect (self, others, and items) and social skills, and in addition have a very elaborate curriculum which teaches children to read, write (even in cursive), do math, learn science, have P.E., etc...  We do all these things in French, during French time, and in English, during English time.

How will my child transition to other educational programs?
Students who have attended La Petite Ecole are always well, and often over, prepared for all of the schooling options available to them.  They are "good" students who know how to  behave in a social academic setting.  They always outperform their peers in language, and in other academic skills as well.  Many qualify for gifted programs.

Shouldn’t my child learn Spanish instead of French?
Fluency in a second language is not the main goal of an early immersion program! Most importantly, children who are given this opportunity at an early age develop neurological pathways that are unique to this experience. In a way, they become “smarter.” The added bonus of speaking another language is icing on the cake. Nevertheless, here are some great advantages to learning French:

  1. Unlike Spanish, Modern English is a direct descendant of French; after the battle of Hastings, in 1066, French was the language spoken in the English Court for several generations. A blending of French and English ensued. As your child progresses in his education, knowing the meaning of some common French words will shed some light on some obscure English terms. Is that an advantage on standardized tests?
  2. French is spoken on all continents of the planet in 55 countries!
  3. French continues to be a leader in science and technology.  Most American research institutions at the graduate level require a reading knowledge of French or German.
  4. It is easier to learn French first, and Spanish second.

What happens when my child leaves the school?
Aside from the development of the brain in ways that would have been impossible without learning another language (which allow a child to think abstractly sooner and more effectively), how do you maintain the language skills acquired, per se?  At La Petite Ecole, we continue to foster our alumni’s language skills by offering an amazing Language Club program.  Unlike other settings which require children to attend weekly or bi-weekly classes, our school offers fun and engaging immersion activities that keep children engaged and loving the language!  Your student can continue to join us through the elementary years after school, either 1, 2, 3, 4, or even 5 days a week.  We guarantee that he/she will love Language Club and all of his/her friends there!  This is not a time for rote learning, paper and pencil work, or homework.  Children who have been in school all day don't need more "school" time.

In July, we offer one amazing week of Summer Camp.  We go all out!  Your child, ages 3-11, will be immersed in a fantasy world and here again, will engage in crafts, stories, and games.  The theme varies each year.  Children who have aged out of this program can learn some leadership skills and become Junior Counselors.  As your student enters Middle School and throughout High School, he/she will continue to improve linguistically while developing a resume, work place ethics, and having fun.

The Concordia Language Villages in Minnesota has state of the art summer camps for children as young as 6. In a camp like setting, villagers are immersed in the language of their choice. There are currently 15 world languages taught. Our Principal, Joëlle, is also involved in this program and would gladly discuss this with you.

Will my child be confused if he/she learns another language?
Research shows that the best method of learning a second (or even a third) language is by consistently having the same person speak to the child in the same language. Even if the speaker is not a native speaker, he or she could speak the target language in a specific context. For example, an American parent who speaks French can choose to speak that language at bath time. When this method is used at home, it is referred to as the “one-parent one-language” method. Since French is used almost exclusively at La Petite Ecole, the children are used to hearing and speaking French in this setting. Thus, it comes naturally to them. Unlike adults, children are not put off or stressed out about this at all. They can easily compartmentalize the different languages. There may be, however, a period of transition where English words are used in a French context. That’s French with a “twist”!

Can I enroll my child just 2 or 3 days a week?
Aside from the children enrolled in the Toddler Program, the answer is no. Although we understand that not attending school daily could be suitable for some families, it is necessary that the children hear the second language daily in order for immersion to work. Furthermore, children adjust more easily to “going to school” if this is a daily experience.

Will my child forget the French once he/she is out of school?
Research shows that it will be much easier for him or her to continue learning French in the future. Furthermore, acquiring a third or fourth language will be greatly facilitated. Also, the long lasting effects of the newly developed neurological pathways will help your child learn in all other academic areas. This is the greatest benefit of early dual language immersion!

Does La Petite Ecole have an option for working parents?
We are proud to offer additional programs to assist the needs of our working parents. Parents may enroll their child(ren) in Before School Care (7:30 am - 8:30 am) and/or After School Care (3:00 pm - 5:30 pm).  Additionally, our toddlers enrolled in the morning program may stay for La Sieste (12:00 - 3:00 pm).  Extra fees apply for these programs.

We welcome any additional questions you may have. Just call (573) 999-9237 or email Joelle at joellelpe@gmail.com!