Because we pride ourselves on being a school community, L’Ecole Française du Maine offers a variety of programs and activities for students and non-students alike. With our Parent Association, Ciné-Club and Adult Education classes, we welcome interested people to participate in our unique immersion experience. We also open our doors to student teachers from France and local public high school students who work with the children on collaborative projects.
La Francophonie dans le Maine
We’re Proud to be Part of the Renaissance
Today, approximately 5% of Maine people speak French at home. And with one third of its population of French descent or either French Canadian or Acadian Ancestry, Maine is the most “French” state in New England. But it wasn’t always this way—historically, French was not welcomed and respected.
The arrival of French Canadians in Maine dates back to the late 19th century. Then, with the industrialization of the early 20th century, the Franco-Canadians arrived en masse in New England. The majority of these immigrants settled into Maine and went to work for cotton mills, paper mills and shoe factories. But as French-speaking people, they were often illiterate in English and therefore poorly received. They suffered discrimination largely due to their unfamiliarity with English, and they assimilated into their new environment at the expense of their language and their roots.
Today, the situation is quite different. The descendants of the third and even the fourth generation of Canadian immigrants have regained pride in their original language. Gone is the shame of speaking French and today’s Franco-Americans are looking to reclaim their heritage. Many Franco-Americans made great accomplishments, with great sacrifice, to create a positive future for the Franco–American community. These hard-working and esteemed people paved the way for a new generation of Franco-Americans, one with renewed pride in their language and heritage. This has fueled a renaissance of the French language in Maine, and our students and entire school community are proud to be active in the movement to bring French back to Maine and New England.
To commemorate the 400th year of French culture in Maine, the students of L’Ecole Française du Maine wrote a new play entirely in French. They performed it at the Franco-American Heritage Center in Lewiston on May 2, 2008 to celebrate this landmark year.