French Education in the Bay Area

French classes and french after school program in the San Francisco Bay Area.


Here is the success story of EFBA that provides French classes and after school programs all over the Bay Area, from Marin County to Santa Cruz.


Gabrielle Durana who created EFBA, answers our questions regarding her great project, its story, and her plans for the future.



Tell us, in a few sentences, about the history of the EFBA.


I had the idea for the organization in November 2008 while in New York, when I realized that the majority of French children living abroad didn't have access to the French lycées due to their prohibitive costs and sometimes due to the fact that they lived too far away. Out of 400,000 French children living abroad, only 100,000 attended schools directed by the Agency for Teaching French Abroad (AEFE, in French). What about the others? They would lose their mother tongue, and even though I understand that you can't build a French lycée everywhere abroad, that broke my heart. I thought: something must be done. In April 2009, I created the organization with a dozen parents. Our goal: to create a solution with an affordable price tag, which was close to where families lived while being high quality. Relying on the public school system, our organization rents classrooms within schools and offers classes from kindergarten through senior year of high school. Classes prepare children to pass official tests that will open access to undergraduate and graduate level education in Europe.


Today, 4 years after its inception, the EFBA consists of 55 employees of which 4 are permanent and 60 volunteers (most of all, our wonderful site managers who manage local classroom sites). We have our foot in 15 cities (which we call sites) in the Bay Area. We serve 500 families. We offer classes and cultural outings during the year and summer camp during the summer. We are in the middle of applying for part-time school accreditation through the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.








What grades of classes do you offer? In which schools? In what kind of context (what time of day, number of hours per week, etc.)


For a complete list of the sites, visit our website here: http://www.efba.us/sites-bay-area


We offer classes from kindergarten through middle school with the hopes of retaining students until the end of the high school career, so we can teach them as they grow.


Classes take place after school and are 3 hours a week plus game time in French before class. The approach is playful yet keeps the ultimate goal of learning in mind, except for the fact that children don't realize that they are practicing grammar or conjugating verbs; they think that they're playing fun games like Chutes and Ladders.



More concretely, what is necessary to do in order to enroll your child? (Age, nationality, current enrollment in a school, pricing)


Classes cost about $20 per hour, or $1,000 for the entire school year (34 weeks) one time per week, or $2,000 if the class is 2 times per week. We have a scholarship program in place to help families who have financial need. They are no nationality requirements. We provide of classes for children only, so adults are invited to learn French at their local Alliance Francaise. We have two separate cohorts for francophone (French speaking or from French speaking families) and anglophone (children who do not learn French at home, or those who have grown up speaking English).


How does one become a teacher, teacher's aid, assistant for the EFBA?



We also offer a training course which is 5 months in length (a mini IUFM) in order to recruit future teachers:




What are the upcoming projects for the EFBA that you can speak to us about?


At the EFBA, we are a learning organization which means we are always searching for ways to improve ourselves and the organization.


On the management side, starting from the beginning of this year, we asking to have our accounts audited by an independent accounting bureau. On a different note, as soon as we have found the rare pearl of a volunteer we would love to create a real intranet since we work as a virtual team.


Outside of accreditation as a part-time school, we're working on a research center, launching a new type of teaching method in the subjects of history and geography for middle school and up, taught in French, with a lens of general culture and meant to prepare students for advanced studies. In this same vein, next year, we will continue our research focused on teaching and learning by games. We're creating a research group which focuses on the integration of children with learning difficulties (dyslexia, Asperger's syndrome, etc.). 

We also have plans to succeed in our expansion of our summer camps. We hope to be able to offer three this summer: one in Berkeley, Mountain View and Mill Valley; in 2014, we hope to open our San Francisco camp.


Finally, we would like to develop our immersive French language cultural excursions, which take place in location museums (called Museum Quest) and our recreation center of Friday nights (Kids' Night Out) to give an addition immersion experience for children.



Can you introduce us to the conference series on the French speaking world in a few words?


Our first objective is to make important players in the French speaking world in Northern California aware of the permanence of our [French] language on this continent. Without knowing that we are part of a long history and that there are other minority - but vibrant - francophone communities on our continent, with whom we share more that we believe, we cannot expect to have bilingualism thrive and passed on to the next generation.