Local parents and Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) are aiming to bring the first ever dual-language French program to Astoria.
“Growing up in a bilingual household, I’m well aware of the benefits and unique cultural awareness for those who grow up speaking two languages,” Simotas said during a recent information session. “I applaud the efforts of these engaged parents who are working to establish cross-cultural learning opportunities here in western Queens.”
The session, held last week, also featured a lecture by education professor G. Bahar Octu-Grillman of Mercy College, and several panel discussions on concrete strategies for parents to take in the possibility of such a program.
If the dual-language program goes forward, it will feature classroom instruction in both French and English, in addition to a focus on cultural appreciation.
While similar programs have popped up and proven successful in Manhattan and Brooklyn, there have yet to be any established in Queens.
“As an Astoria native, I don’t want to move and my husband and I cannot afford to pay private school tuition,” Diana Limongi, a parent who is spearheading the effort, said. “We, along with so many other interested families, are therefore so excited at the prospect of bringing a public dual-language French program here to Astoria and Long Island City.”
A separate charter school will not be opened to accommodate the program; rather, it will function much like a gifted and talented program, within an existing school. No decisions have been made on which schools would participate in the program, admission requirements or how many children would be allowed to enroll.
“Queens is the most diverse borough in the United States,” Simotas said. “One of our biggest strengths is this diversity and programs like this one will help to ensure that our shared cultures are celebrated and expanded.”