Over 800 attendees congregated at the Second Annual Bilingual fair, hosted by French Morning, bringing people from all over the New York State paying tribute to the flowering state of bilingual education in New York.
From the Italian language to Chinese and German, and every possible language in between, the room buzzed with parents and even those yet-to-be, preparing themselves and their children to be part of what has been coined, the Bilingual Revolution in New York City.
Gone are the days when 'bilingual' meant ESL classes for immigrant students. A new wave of immigration from all over the world has put pressure on the educational system to transform itself into a place that fosters and celebrates cultural heritages from all over the world.
This took the form of public and private schools, businesses and nonprofits all with the goal of promoting and supporting the Revolution.
grassroots fashion by garnering the support of other parents who sought to preserve their children's heritage in school. This, she coins as the single most important factor, as it is impossible, she says, 'to do it alone.'
We saw, of course, many familiar faces from past interviews within the French bilingual programs, which many individuals at the fair were surprised to hear were gratuitous. Public schools like PS 110, PS 133, PS20, and NYFACS were all present.
Carola Grundmann of Pusteblume
Intermediary learning methods were also represented, like that of China Sprout
, which is targeted mainly at children of Americans who wish to supplement their school and after-school learning of the Mandarin language. Founder Xiaoning Wang emphasizes the need for more Chinese dual language programs in public schools that will allow children to partake in other activities on the weekends that were primarily dedicated to learning Chinese in traditional language learning settings.
Xiaoning Wang, China Sprout
Ilaria Costa, Italian American Committee on Education
Ilaria Costa, Executive Director of the Italian American Committee on Education, heads the non-profit organization aiming to promote the learning of Italian in public schools. Aside from their own programs, the Committee helps to fund dual language programs. Licia, however, maintains that it is the parents who need to come to her expressing the need in order to be assisted, again, promoting the importance of starting these programs in a grassroots environment.
In the private space, preschools like Arc en Ciel and La Pétite Ecole happily showcased their initiatives to support the Bilingual Revolution.
At the fair, Revolutionary leaders gave talks about the benefits of learning other languages, arriving at the unanimous conclusion that having a bilingual education is not only for children of diplomats and of the elite.
Aside from the cognitive and developmental benefits to the children, it is, in the increasingly globalized society in which these children are growing up to be a part of, a detriment to their being if these doors are not open to them.