Primary "immersion" education
French teaching in primary education is coordinated by
the Consortium of Immersion Schools (50% of the school day is in French)
based in Lafayette. There is a French public school in New Orleans, and
thirty-one public elementary schools in ten parishes: Acadiana, Assomption,
East Baton Rouge, Calcacieu, Iberia, Jefferson, Lafayette, Orleans, Saint
Landry and Saint Martin. There is also a charter school in New Orleans,
and two private schools in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Six schools teach
French at the junior high school level; by high school, only a few students
continue with the intensive French curriculum, which is currently available
in Assomption, Calcacieu, Lafayette, Saint Landry and Saint Martin parishes.
Despite the serious economic difficulties in the 1980s, the efforts of the CODOFIL [Council for the Development of French in Louisiana] ensured that Louisianans no longer consider speaking French to be a shameful thing. In 1983, the State of Louisiana decreed that a second language must be studied for five years, and for two additional years for those who wish to go to college. CODOFIL offers college grants, which also allow students to attend universities in France, Canada or Belgium. Finally, the Colloquium created the association Média-Louisiane, which supports all French-language radio and television activities in the state, and it publishes La Gazette de Louisiane, available for free on the association's Internet site. Most Louisiana high schools require two years of foreign language study, which is sometimes French, but often Spanish. For example, in Acadiana (a region of Lafayette, in the heart of Cajun country), 30% of students chose French as a second language, and more than 40% of the residents speak it.
In 1994, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette (USL) created
the first PhD program in French and Francophone Studies in the US, which
includes Cajun and Creole. The French Department at State University of
Louisiana at Baton Rouge (LSU) split off from the Foreign Languages Department
in 1998. Its programs include courses on Caribbean literature, Belgian
literature and five levels of Cajun French, as well as business French.