Astoria Mom Seeks Dual-Language Program

BY TRISHA SAKHUJA
Staff Writer

The mother of a two-year-old son wants to create a French dual language program in western Queens because she said she understands the importance of raising her son in a multilingual home.

Coming from a Spanish-speaking home, Diana Limongi Gabriele, and having married a French-speaking husband, Ludovic Gabriele, said they both want their son, Enzo, to learn and speak French, Spanish and English.

However, while looking for a nearby school that supports their dual-language needs, Gabriele noticed there were no French dual-language programs available in Queens.

“It’s important for our son to learn French, but all the private schools that teach French are in the City and are too expensive for us to afford,” Gabriele said.

According to a DOE spokesperson, 21 dual language programs are offered in Queens, which includes Spanish, Chinese, Korean and a new Mandarin program started earlier this year.

DOE spokesperson said parents are encouraged to discuss the possibility of a dual language program with their child’s school principal.

In terms of French dual-language programs, Gabriele said parents have gathered support to start five French dual-language programs that operate in schools in Brooklyn and in the City.

Gabriele said she spent the summer spreading the word and gathering support from fellow French parents and the French Consulate.

She held an information session on Nov. 4 to speak with parents and principals interested in the program. She said 40 interested parents agree a dual-language program is important for children as early as kindergarten because it would feature classroom instruction in both French and English, in addition to a focus on cultural appreciation.

Assemblywoman Aravella Simotas (D-Astoria) was at the session to support Gabriele’s efforts.

“Growing up in a bilingual household, I’m well-aware of the benefits and unique cultural awareness for those who grow up speaking two languages,” Simotas said.

Principal Donna Geller from PS 70 has reached out to Gabriele to express her interest in starting a French dual-language at the school, but nothing has been confirmed as of yet.

Gabriele said interested parents should visit the Facebook page at www.facebook.com/DLPAstoriaLIC.

Reach Trisha Sakhuja at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, tsakhuja@queenstribune.com, or @Tsakhuja13.