'Mais oui,' French is all the rage in Louisiana

'Mais oui,' French is all the rage in Louisiana

Immersion programs have waiting lists.

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NEW ORLEANS • The wave of Hispanics who flooded the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina doesn't appear to have dampened Louisiana families' demand for their children to get a French education.

All 29 of the state's public French immersion programs have a waiting list, and this year at least one school — the International School of Louisiana in New Orleans — received more applications for its French program than ever before.

Demand for Spanish language education remains strong, both for local use and as a language of inter-American commerce. But even some Spanish-speakers are seeking French language education for their children.

Gayle Perez, a New Orleans native who grew up speaking Spanish because of her Ecuadoran parents, enrolled her son in ISL's French program. Now 10 years old, Alejandro Perez, is fluent in English, Spanish and French.

"It was the best thing I could have done for my son," Perez said. "He's not just learning a new language. He is learning that there's another part of the world out there, one that's not only English-speaking or only Spanish-speaking."

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