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.
Some teachers are from Louisiana, but most come from France, Belgium, Canada, Haiti, the Ivory Coast and Tunisia. They are recruited through the CODOFIL, which was created in 1968 by the lawyer and senator James Domengeaux. These efforts slow the effect of the death of French speakers by ensuring that their grandchildren will speak French.

Secondary education

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.

Upper-level education

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.
Centenary College at Shreveport publishes a quarterly journal in French, Le Tintamarre. What is more, French is taught by the Foreign Languages departments in every Louisiana university. Student exchanges are organized between France, Belgium and Louisiana.

Aerial view of Lafayette University
Aerial view of Lafayette University