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Berkeley’s Ecole Bilingue to open middle school track: A new entry point for students to benefit from the gift of being bilingual

A science class at the Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley. Photo: EB

 This story is brought to you by Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley.

Starting in the fall of this year, Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley will welcome non-French speaking students to a new middle school international track that offers targeted exposure so they can catch up with their peers and follow the school’s bilingual curriculum.

The new point of entry in 6th grade prepares students to pursue an internationally focused education in high school and beyond. Students in this new program get about 25% of French language instruction (which is two times more than the amount of foreign language in a regular middle school), allowing them to become fluent by the end of 8th grade.

There are several French bilingual schools in the Bay Area. Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley (EB) is the largest one in the East Bay, and it belongs to a network of some 500 schools around the world that follows the French curriculum.

“Our students are very much sought-after by top private high schools who value their multilingual communications skills and their open-mindedness,” said Ecole Bilingue high school placement counselor Douglas Gostlin.

Students benefit from challenging academics, small class size and individual attention. The student:teacher ratio is about 17:1.

French is spoken worldwide

French is a young, vibrant, global language. With 300 millions speakers around the world, it is the fifth most widely spoken language after Mandarin Chinese, English, Spanish and Arabic. And it’s not just spoken worldwide. French schools flourish around the globe because of the prestige of the French approach to education.

French is the only language other than English to be spoken on all five continents.

And a recent report from the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) shows that the number of French speakers is steadily rising: up nearly 9.6% since 2014. It is expected to grow from 450 to 750 million speakers over the next 30 years.

The language of diplomacy, culture and business

French is an official working language in many international institutions, including the United Nations, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), and the World Trade Organization (WTO), to name just a few.

A language of clarity and precision, French has a longstanding track record in the fields of diplomacy, science, arts and literature. As a result, French is a top foreign language taught in the education systems of most countries around the world. It is the second most used language for business in Europe and the third in the world. Speaking French is a clear advantage for conducting international business.

Students at the Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley benefit from the positive effects of bilingualism. Photo: EB

The gift of being bilingual

Beyond the usefulness of the French language today, the benefits of being bilingual are numerous. Research shows that the bilingual brain can have better attention and task-switching capacities than the monolingual brain, thanks to its developed ability to inhibit one language while using another.

In addition, bilingualism has positive effects at both ends of the age spectrum: Bilingual children can better adjust to environmental changes, while bilingual seniors can experience less cognitive decline.

EB’s renowned curriculum

The curriculum at Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley is renowned worldwide: students are taught academic prowess, independent and analytical thinking and cultural knowledge. As a U.S.-based school, EB is also accredited by the California Association of Independent Schools, offering a unique curriculum blending the French and the American approaches.

Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley welcomes students starting in preschool and goes to 8th grade. As one of the most diverse independent schools in the East Bay, it offers individualized attention thanks to its small class sizes (students/teacher ratio of 17:1), and an international outlook, thanks to its bilingual curriculum.

Non-French speaking students can enter at various points and benefit from targeted exposure to catch up with their peers and follow the school’s bilingual curriculum. The entry points are: preschool, kindergarten and now, starting in fall of 2019:6th grade

Visit Ecole Bilingue during an upcoming Middle School International Track information session on Wed., Feb. 27 at 5:30 p.m. (RSVP encouraged), or learn more at www.eb.org

This story is written and paid for by Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, a preschool to 8th grade French-American school. Its mission is to nurtures creative, multilingual learners, equipped to confidently embrace the delights and challenges of an interconnected world.