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Early Linguists : Private Foreign-Language Schools Give Bilingual Education a New Twist

April 28, 1988|MICHELE LINGRE

Monique Mickus, director of the Lycee International, said her school practices "total immersion." According to Mickus, the French curriculum is progressive: "One year builds upon the other. The students are into calculus in high school. From seventh grade on they have to take biology, chemistry every year. In ninth grade students take Spanish or German, and Latin for three years. At the end of 11th grade they keep the languages or do a lot more science and physics."

Other private schools teach more exotic languages--Arabic, Greek, Hebrew--in conjunction with religion. At the New Horizon School in South Pasadena for example, the students are taught Arabic and the ritual prayers of Islam. Each noon, Feryal Mohammed, an Egyptian who teaches Arabic, guides 18 Muslim children onto a large rug--boys on the front half, girls in the back with white head covers--and leads them in saying the "Salah," or prayer.

The Valley is also home to a variety of Saturday morning schools that offer special classes and exams that students of the Los Angeles Unified School District can take for credit toward their high school graduation.

At the San Fernando Valley Chinese School, for example, children learn Cantonese and Mandarin in grades kindergarten through eight.

According to Campbell, such Saturday schools are frequently started by immigrant parents or religious organizations so children can maintain a sense of identity through learning about the language and culture of their ancestors.

What follows is a list of foreign language schools available for residents of the San Fernando Valley area:

ARABIC

New Horizon School, 1955 Fremont Ave., South Pasadena, (213) 255-1937. A private full-day school, founded in 1984. Director: Christine Cryer. 70 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 12 to 1. Grades: pre-kindergarten through second. Tuition: $240 a month.

New Horizon offers one hour a day of Arabic language instruction, plus optional classes on Islam. The school is sponsored by the Islamic Center of Southern California. About 80% of the students are Muslims of various ethnic backgrounds, but the school is open to non-Muslims.

ARMENIAN

Holy Martyrs Armenian Ferrahian School, 5300 White Oak Ave., Encino, (818) 784-6228. A private full-day school founded in 1964. Principal: Gabriel Injejikian. 650 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 25 to 1. Grades: kindergarten through 12. Tuition: $180 a month.

In addition to regular subjects, the school offers two hours of Armenian language instruction a day (including Armenian literature, history and religion). Classes in English as a second language (ESL) are also available.

Armenian Evangelical School, 13330 Riverside Drive, Sherman Oaks, (818) 907-8149. A private full day school founded in 1982 by the Armenian Evangelical Schools of California. Principal: Aram Booljhoorjian. 260 students with a student-teacher ratio of 20 to 1. Grades: pre-kindergarten through eighth. Tuition: $175 a month.

The school offers classes in Armenian language and literature six times a week and Armenian history and religion twice a week.

CHINESE

San Fernando Valley Chinese School (meets at Andasol Elementary School), 10126 Encino Ave., Northridge, (818) 363-4133. A private Saturday morning school (9:30 a.m. to to 12:30 p.m.) founded in 1972. Principal: Winston Lau. 180 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 15 to 1. The language levels run from kindergarten through eighth grade, but the school enrolls students age 6 to adult. The school suggests an $80 a semester donation in lieu of an official tuition.

The school, sponsored by the San Fernando Valley Chinese Cultural Assn., features two hours of language instruction and one hour of cultural activities ( tai chi , traditional Chinese dancing, calligraphy) every Saturday.

FRENCH

Le Lycee International de Los Angeles, or French-American School, 14255 Erwin Street, Van Nuys, (818) 994-7525. A private full-day school founded in 1978. Principal: Monique Mickus. 151 students, with a student-teacher ratio of 10 to 1. Grades: pre-kindergarten through 12, plus an additional grade to train the students who wish to take the French high school diploma examination. Students can also graduate with American high school diplomas, and the school trains them for SAT and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) tests. Tuition ranges from $2,650 for pre-kindergarten to $4,275 for the "13th" grade. Some scholarships are available.

Le Lycee Francais de Los Angeles (Valley campus), 5345 Wilhemina Avenue, Woodland Hills, (818) 716-8642. A full-day school founded in 1964. Principal: Pascal Vigel. Eighty-six students at the Valley campus, with a student-teacher ratio that varies from 3 to 1 to 14 to 1. Grades: kindergarten through 12. The school prepares students to receive both French and American high school diplomas, as well as preparation for the TOEFL and SAT. Tuition ranges from $3,905 to $5,150. Some scholarships are available.

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