Many visitors to our website have questions about our immersion preschool and elementary school. Below are answers to several of our most frequently asked questions. If you have others, or would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact us.
Students in immersion environments absorb their second language naturally without translating back and forth. By starting at a young age, children are able to pick up native pronunciation, intonation, and inflection. Results from the research show that these children have enhanced listening and study skills, demonstrate academic achievement with higher scores in reading and math, and have a better understanding of the diverse world around them.
How does French Immersion L’Etoile differ from an American private school?
L’Etoile is committed to follow the French system which is renowned worldwide for its complete and rigorous curriculum. It teaches the students how to become active and responsible learners. The preschool, taught by credentialed teachers, is the foundation of the educational system and prepares our students to achieve success in the primary grades.
Is L’Etoile French Immersion School accredited?
We are accredited by the French Ministry of Education. For more information on the accreditation criteria, please see The Association of French Schools in North America and the French Ministry of Education websites.
What are the qualifications of the teachers?
Our teachers are selected according to the standards set by the French Ministry of Education. All, including preschool teachers, hold teaching credentials from their native country. The criteria for teaching preschool and elementary age children is commensurate with a masters qualification in the USA.
What is the student/teacher ratio?
For children between the ages of 2.5 and 3, the ratio is 1:5. For preschool children over the age of 3, the ratio is 10:1. They are in groups of up to 20 students with one teacher and one assistant. In the elementary grades the class size limit is 22 students.
What is the minimum age for enrollment?
We enroll children beginning at 2.5 years who are fully potty-trained.
Does my child need to speak French in order to attend?
Children entering preschool or kindergarten do not need any prior knowledge of French. Students entering first through fifth grade must demonstrate that they have sufficient French proficiency for the given grade.
Is it possible to enroll my child at an upper grade level without a working knowledge of the French language?
We do not speak French. Will this prevent my child from progressing in the L’Etoile immersion program?
Our immersion program is designed to offset this by having the majority of the instructional time in French (75% versus 25% in English). Students may also receive additional small group instruction if needed. Over seventy percent of our families do not speak French as their main language at home, so we offer resources, such as adult after-school French classes and parent access to our school library, to supplement the child’s exposure to French.
How long will it take for my child to become fluent?
Studies have shown that young children become linguistically capable in an immersion program within a year of involvement. It is our job to closely monitor academic as well as linguistic progress in order to address and resolve any impediments to the challenging curriculum. Our Head of School will be happy to supply you with studies pertinent to the advantages of a bilingual education.
How much is tuition?
Please refer to our tuition and fees page for more details.
Is financial aid available?
Yes. French nationals may apply to the French government for assistance. If you wish to apply for financial aid please ask our Head of School for assistance in completing the French Consulate form at the time of enrollment. Financial aid may also be available for non-French nationals, but grants are typically awarded to those in elementary grades.
What is the schedule?
L’Etoile follows the same calendar as public schools in France. There are five teaching periods separated by breaks, occurring in October, December, February, and April (Spring Break). In addition, some national holidays are observed (Labor Day, MLK Day, and Memorial Day). Optional, fee-based care is available during the breaks in October and February. The academic year is from September to mid-June. Please visit our school calendar for more details.
What are the school hours?
School hours are from 8:30am-3pm. Half day pick up (for preschool and pre-k classes only) is at 12:20pm. There is free early drop off at 7:30am.
Is there after care?
Yes, from 3-6pm. Students must be enrolled in the school to attend our general aftercare program. All ages are welcome. After care is $7.50/ hour or a maximum of $300/mo.
Do you offer extra-curricular classes after school?
Yes, we have several after school classes. These classes are fee-based, and enrollment at L’Etoile is not required to participate. Examples of classes include art, soccer, gymnastics, LEGO robotics, circus arts, piano lessons, ukulele lessons and more. Classes are offered in French and in English.
Do you offer summer programs or camps?
Yes, camps run for 9 weeks starting end of June and ending end of August. The maternelle summer program is open to students going into preschool, pre-k, and kindergarten in the upcoming school year (3-6 years old). The elementary summer program is open to students going into 1st-5th grade (6-12 years old).
Our summer program is highly customizable and flexible based on family’s needs. We offer half day, full day, and extended care options. There is no enrollment deadline but camps fill up quickly. Please refer to the summer camp page for information about payment.
What is the curriculum?
The French Ministry of Education curriculum is organized as a series of multi-year “Cycles”, during which time students acquire specific knowledge and demonstrate given competencies. This concept acknowledges that learning occurs in a different way, and at a different pace, in every child. The Ministry divides the “maternelle” into 3 grades: Petite Section (preschool), Moyenne Section (pre-k), and Grande Section (kindergarten). After that students move on to the Primary School, which includes grades 1 – 5 (CP-CM2).
At least 90% of our teachers are certified through the French Ministry of Education.
Please visit our curriculum overview page for more details.
Do you serve a hot lunch?
Families have the option of ordering healthy hot lunches and after school snacks Monday through Friday for an additional fee. All items are ordered online à la carte. Serah Tennenholz, owner of The Open Window and L’Etoile parent, prepares and delivers lunches to the school. Otherwise, families are asked to provide a morning snack, lunch, and afternoon snack (if staying in after care) for their child.
Does L’Etoile fundraise?
No. We believe it is better to be transparent about what families are expected to pay. All costs are covered in the base tuition and activity fee, excluding any overnight trips.
Do you have covered play areas?
Yes, we have an indoor gym at Hood Avenue and at Fulton Park.
Where are the elementary grades located? What is L’Etoile’s relation to the Fulton Park Community Center?
L’Etoile’s elementary school is located at the former Fulton Park Elementary School, one mile from the preschool location at Hood Avenue. Most recently this location served as the site of the Fulton Park Community Center, but its use for Portland Parks programs ceased in 2012. At that time L’Etoile partnered with Portland Parks to bring Fulton back to its original function as a grade school, while continuing its tradition of offering its auditorium as a gathering place for neighborhood and civic groups during non-school hours.