Au revoir

District chooses to end French program

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Back to Article

Au revoir

Teacher LeighAnn Hinsch's French classroom in A104.

Teacher LeighAnn Hinsch's French classroom in A104.

Staff photo

Teacher LeighAnn Hinsch's French classroom in A104.

Staff photo

Staff photo

Teacher LeighAnn Hinsch's French classroom in A104.

Taralynn Gates and Chloe Presley-Gundaker

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The French department has always been something a fair few of kids could look forward to in their high school days. Along with Spanish and German, French is offered for selection. However, only 95 kids were enrolled in the French program this year.

Because of enrollment, Comal district is phasing 0ut French across the district because of the low numbers of students enrolling in the class. Upper level French classes such as on-level or Pre-AP French II, Pre-AP French III and AP French IV, will continued to be offered for students already enrolled in the program. However, French I will no longer be offered.

“We make decisions based on student involvement, student needs and student participation,” superintendent Andrew Kim said. “So whenever we feel like there’s a participation number that is dropping, we try to figure out whether or not we should continue with the program. From a cost perspective, it is hard to have a program in place if you only have one kid involved.”

Advanced French courses will be offered until the current French I class graduates. After the Class of 2022, French will cease to be an option.

“We’re still keeping the kids in French so we can finish them out,” Kim said. “We’re not completely zeroing out French.”

Current students believes the district is taking away an important opportunity for future ones.

“It’s a really cool class,” sophomore Jaxson Derr said. “I would like to see it continue because there are a lot of people who can handle the class and love that class, so it kind of sucks to see people like them not be able to experience that and only be able to take [American] Sign Language or Spanish.”

For others, this course was a way to connect culturally with family from other parts of the world that speak French.

“The classroom set up gives us a slice of culture,” sophomore Onyi Uduji said. “My family is from Nigeria, and I have a grandfather who’s very excited that I’m learning French because it’s a highly used language in Africa and he knows many people whose maternal language is French.”

By limiting choices in language, the class sizes for Spanish, German and American Sign Language are going to grow with the upcoming years. 

“It reduces choices for the students and it will increase the class sizes depending on what they do with that teacher spot,” department chair Christopher Helkey said. “They’re probably going to have to hire somebody, but we don’t know if they’re gonna hire somebody with a French background, or Spanish combo, or what they’re gonna do with the position.”

The cutting of the French program was a shock to students and staff alike. 

“We were left completely out of the loop of all discussions regarding the removal of French,” Helkey said.

American Sign Language came in two years ago, offering another language option and acting as a possible substitution to French.

Right now we are only going to offer German, Spanish, and American Sign Language.” Kim said. “Spanish and ASL are one and two in popularity, and the other languages, frankly, are kind of slowly not having the effect.”

However, the fate of the French Department was not set in stone. Since the question and concern of taking away this language has been brought up, the district is reviewing the decision.

“A couple of parents have actually brought it up,” Kim said. “Every time there is a concern I always try and look at it to make sure we’re making the right decisions. Right now, I have a meeting set up to review it one more time.”

Teachers and students who wished to see continuation of the program were encouraged to get incoming eighth graders to sign up for French.

“We need teachers and students already in the program to advocate for it,” Kim said. “If they are able to recruit more kids, then I’m not opposed to bringing it back.”

French teaher LeighAnn Hinsch declined to speak on the issue.

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