News / USA

French Class Connects Haitian Children with Their Heritage

Alex Villarreal

The U.S. state of Florida is home to one of the largest Haitian communities outside the Caribbean nation. The city of Miami even has a neighborhood known as "Little Haiti", where Haitians maintain close ties to their heritage and ensure their children do the same. 

At the Little Haiti Cultural Center, little Haitians come to learn French.

The center offers the classes through the New York-based French Heritage Language Program.

Students have fun during French class
Students have fun during French class

Not all the students are Haitian, but for the ones who are, the language carries a special significance.

“My mom speaks French a little bit. She speaks French and English,” explains Dominique Domond.

“Sometimes, he says, 'Mom, I want you to teach me how to speak your language,'" Marie Domond says.

Teacher Jennifer Linkletter says that family connection is key.

French Class Connects Haitian Children with Their Heritage
French Class Connects Haitian Children with Their Heritage

“French is part of what it means to be Haitian, and the goal of the program is to get them in touch with their French history and with their French roots and to be proud of that,” she explains.

Another language also means more opportunities.

“The more languages you speak, the more you can share, you can work,' notes Martine Buissart, the French Heritage Language Program’s Miami coordinator. "For work, it’s very important.

"It can be good for him, too, in the future, so he can have a second language to help other people,” she adds.

Future benefits aside, for now, for the children, French is just...fun.

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