About Us

Being Bilingual

Learning a language is a most rewarding intellectual pursuit for young minds. Becoming truly bilingual, especially in our holistically immersive environment, opens students up to other cultures in a genuine way. They gain a deeper understanding of the values, beliefs and customs of other communities, and an ability to move seamlessly between them. We cannot think of a more valuable preparation for life in our interdependent world.
 

Selin Nalbantoglu, Class of 2021

Our generation faces great challenges: climate change, the development of artificial intelligence, systemic racism, pandemics...The next generation of leaders must understand these problems, connect many disciplines and embrace diversity to find solutions. This is exactly what the Lycée teaches us.
At the Lycée Français de New York, bilingualism is an inherent part of everyday life for our students. They gain full native fluency in English and French, moving fluidly between these two core languages and their cultures each day. In the international environments of Lycée classrooms, playgrounds, in the field and on the stage, they engage with native-French and native-English speaking teachers, coaches, leaders and staff, and each other.

All of our students are (or become!) bilingual in English and French, and a full 30% speak at least three languages or more. This deep exposure to language and culture offers extraordinary, scientifically-documented benefits for students that last a lifetime.

A Gateway to the World

According to the International Organization of Francophonie, French is the fastest growing language in the world, with a full 750 million people expected to speak French by 2050. As the fifth most spoken language globally, French is an extraordinarily valuable language in its own right, providing students with a gateway to communities across Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and Southeast Asia.

A Lycée education is about much more than learning in French, however. Our experience is that the ability to speak a second language makes it far easier to acquire a third, fourth and even fifth language, as students have already developed the confidence and executive function in their second language.

We extend this linguistic proficiency to include cultural competency, helping students develop an awareness of experiences other than their own. Fostering an openness to others early on fosters a flexibility that students will carry throughout their lives, across many cultures of the world, to  university, workplaces, and even family life.

A Nimble Brain

The benefits of bilingualism expand far beyond a portal to the world. Canadian psycholinguist Ellen Bialystok points to the agile brains of bilinguals frequently in her work. Bilinguals are efficient in their cognitive function and better at discerning the essential from the non-essential. They are better able to manage multiple tasks, solving problems across verbal and nonverbal domains as they capitalize on what they know in one area to address another. A bilingual brain is an active one, and also a healthier one, especially as we age. Her research shows that bilingualism is a strong tool in the fight against dementia and even Alzheimer's in older patients. 

Find out more here.

A Creative Problem Solver

We talk much about fostering in students the courage to create and to invent at the Lycée. We are fortunate in that their bilingualism is an inherently strong jumping off point. Numerous studies have shown that bilingual students come up with more ideas, across more categories of possibility, when problem solving. Bilinguals also have a far greater pool of vocabulary and ideas to draw from. At the Lycée, our students benefit from exposure to a variety of different cultures, ways of thinking and general experiences to push their creative ideas ever further.

An Empathetic Communicator

Several studies show that bilinguals exhibit greater empathy in communication with others, originating  from the perspective they gain in not only speaking another language but learning to interpret meaning through subtle cues. "There are as many ways to live one's bilingualism as there are bilingual individuals," states Primary School Director Vaninna Boussouf. "Bilingual individuals are a place where two languages and two cultures come in contact with each other, meet, and melt into a new entity."