This ‘behind the scenes’ shot is of Moreen Tonny, an intern at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, who has been at the forefront of the ‘dual-language revolution’ in New York City.

Having emigrated from Haiti just three years ago, Tonny has been motivated by her personal experiences in Port au Prince, where she recalls the societal implications of speaking French and Creole. Tonny grew up speaking French in school, but otherwise, engaging in interactions in Creole. “It wasn’t until I came here that I realized how advantageous knowing two languages was, and this is what I would like to promote throughout New York City”.

Promotion is only the beginning of what Tonny has accomplished: she has founded the Brooklyn-Queens Bilingual group, which aims to create French-English dual language programs in public schools in South-East Queens and East Brooklyn. Through extensive research and data analysis, Moreen Tonny and her team have established the extensive need and desire for bilingual education programs in these geographic areas.

At an informational meeting in queens, Tabatha Crayton, a mother to an 11-year old daughter in Cambria Heights, expressed her approval of a French-English dual-language program in her neighborhood: “My daughter’s school is currently under enrolled; this would be a great program to bring there, generating more funds for the school”.

The local librarian who attended the information session attested to the prominence of the local francophone population: “I would say that 80% of the people that walk through the library doors are French speakers”.

What Tonny is working to achieve is more than just linguistic opportunity. She, like numerous others, is bridging the gap between the need and desire to maintain a heritage, preserve cultural identity, and most importantly, encourage global solidarity.

The work does not end with Moreen Tonny and her team. In fact, the success of any dual language program rests heavily on the efforts of the parents and faculty collaborating to make these programs a fruitful reality.

After the information session, Tabatha Crayton promised to speak to her daughter’s principal, who she hopes will support her in making her daughter’s bilingual educational opportunities a possibility – one parent like this at a time is all it takes for the success of the dual-language revolution in New York City.


For more information on the program and how to start a dual-language program at your local New York City school, contact Moreen Tonny at: 

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Tags: Bilingual, Brooklyn-Queens, Dual, Group, Language, Moreen, Program, Queens, Tonny


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