Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley, the 44-year-old French-American bilingual school, is now seeing the children of alumni enrolling. The second generation enrollments are a true testimonial of how strongly connected the EB community is and remains over the years, says Director of Admissions Manon Johnson.
“It is the most inspiring thing to watch, as parents reconnect with the school, wearing a different hat and with many wonderful memories,” Johnson says. “We can’t wait for the third generation to start enrolling, possibly in five to 10 years!”
The preschool-through-grade 8 independent school prides itself on providing small class sizes and an engaging outdoor learning environment. Located in Southwest Berkeley, the campus has almost one acre of outdoor space with an edible garden, play structures, sand boxes, a soccer and basketball field and an outdoor classroom, open to all lower-school students. One can see the bright lower-school campus across the street from Berkeley Bowl West.
The school serves both children from French-speaking families (about a third of the students), as well as children from non-French speaking families, committed to learning the language.
Xavier Quan, a French-American citizen who graduated from EB in 1996, has recently enrolled his daughter in the preschool program and is applying for her little sister to join the school next year.
“Before even having children, I told my wife that our future kids would be going to EB, and that this was non-negotiable. After we attended an open house, she totally understood why. The thing about EB is that it’s more than just a bilingual school, it’s a place where you can be sure your children will develop a strong sense of culture and diversity from a very young age. The faculty are truly great teachers and care about the work they do.”
“I know that I am setting a solid foundation for my children’s future, regardless of whether they prefer science and math or the liberal arts. I have very fond memories of my time at EB, and I think it’s because I grew up going pre-K through 8th grade with the same core group of students and teachers.”
Like Quan, Matthew Pech is from a French-American background. He graduated in 1999 and has enrolled his daughter in the program, too. “It’s been wonderful to see how EB has both kept up with the times, while staying true to the core mission. It’s also been nice knowing that our daughter’s education is in good hands. On the COVID-related side, I have been happy that our daughter has been able to consistently go to in-person school.”
EB’s mission is to nurture creative, multilingual learners, equipped to confidently embrace the delights and challenges of an interconnected world by providing its students with language immersion, rigorous academics, individualized attention, and a welcoming international community. The school nurtures students that belong anywhere in the world.
The school community comes from 50 different countries. Of the two-thirds of students who don’t speak French at home, half are from families where only English is spoken at home and the other half speak English and another language at home. No matter the level of French-language proficiency children have, teachers adapt and challenge each child to grow and develop at their own pace.
Every day teachers divide their class into two smaller groups: one group is more experienced with the French language, the other is for children new to the language. While the teacher stays in the classroom with one of the groups, the assistant teacher brings the other group to the garden, the indoor gym or the library. Then the teacher and assistant switch the groups.
While all the children will follow the same experience — same type of activities, stories or specific skill mastering during these differentiated times — teachers will adjust their expectations and the pace of the lesson depending on the level of comfort children have with the French language.
It all starts at the preschool and Kindergarten levels. Early childhood has been proven to be the best time to learn a new language. (If not from birth!) Children, who are naturally curious and trying to make sense of the world around them, will learn their new language at an incredible pace. Watch the learning process at EB.
Virtual information sessions are hosted regularly, and on-campus tours resume later this Spring.