Louisiana looking north for French help

Louisiana looking north for French help

Louisiana looking for help from Les Québécois.

Quebec City (Quebec) 4 November 2014 – Charles Larroque, executive director of the Council for the development of the French language in Louisiana (CODOFIL) and Stephan Ortego, Democratic member of the Louisiana House of Representatives, were in town last week to take part in the conference for Centre de la Francophonie des Amériques. The two men are involved in a program to assure and resurrect the use of the French language in the State.

Speaking at the conference, M. Ortego said that the French language is part of Louisiana’s heritage and that the state wants to slowly bring back the teaching of the language into the classrooms and particularly in areas where parents appear to be showing an interest.

It has become an issue with certain parents, and there is now a law in place that states that if 25 students or more sign a petition to have French immersion in their schools, the implicated school will have to furnish the courses.

In the 1920’s it was against the law to speak French in Louisiana and students would receive a tap on the wrist if they used the language in school.

According to Mr. Ortego, the new program is twofold showing that the students who are in the new immersion classes are getting better overall results in all their schoolwork than their counterparts who remain unilingual.

In grade three the difference is 15% better results, and in eighth grade the difference is 30% above.

The two gentlemen would like to see a stronger participation from Quebec in the area of teaching, and helping to promote the language, in their state.

There used to be a strong presence of Quebecois in the state in the past in the form of teachers and advisors and the two men would like to see those activities return.

Right now they rely mostly on France and Belgium.

M. Larroque would like to point out however, that there has never been any animosity between the French and English in the State of Louisiana.

Mr. Ortego recently took part in a benefit concert called Lache Pas organised by CODOFIL where he addressed a crowd in French and in English.

A lot of the Francophone who settled in Louisiana were originally from the eastern provinces of Canada and are known locally as Cajuns, most likely a derivative of Acadiens.

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