Alliance Francaise of Greenwich Get a taste of French culture at open house
GREENWICH — There will be chocolate croissants.
The Alliance Francaise of Greenwich, an independent nonprofit that organizes classes and cultural immersion programs, will host an open house from 2 to 4 p.m. this Saturday. Attendees can meet teachers and board members and learn about the organization’s classes and workshops, the annual cocktail party — held next Wednesday — and Focus on French Cinema.
“It’s going to be a window, a vitrine, into what we do in Greenwich,” President Renée Amory Ketcham said. “The open house is a great way to find a way to freshen your skills or take the opportunity to learn French.”
There are 100 alliances in the U.S. and 805 worldwide, and they all insist their teachers are native French speakers, Ketcham said.
“It’s a good way to discover the program and meet the teachers,” education director Geraldine Trippitelli said. “It’s a fun way to learn French.”
Those who sign up for classes while at the open house, located on the second story of the Greenwich Arts Council on Greenwich Avenue, receive a $50 discount for adult classes and $30 off for kids.
Kids as young as 2 and adults as old as 90 participate in classes at the Alliance Francaise, she said. People learn because they want to travel to France or just to have a hobby.
“You have a little bit for everyone,” Trippitelli said.
The French language has made a comeback, Ketcham said.
“There’s a surge in interest in French and French culture because it’s rich,” she said, citing the nation’s shared history with the U.S. that goes back to the 1700s. “There’s an incredible link, historically and culturally.”
Americans learn French to experience the richness of French culture and to help their careers, she said.
“Some of our students are very loyal,” Trippitelli said. “They are fluent but they continue to come because they learn about the culture.”
The alliance has extended its bilingual school from first through fifth grade to include kindergarten through sixth grade because of a higher demand among residents. It now teaches more than 30 students, and registration is almost closed.
“For children, it’s a good way to speak French at a young age and learn within a playful environment,” Trippitelli said. “They don’t feel like they learn.”
The bilingual school, called L’Ecole du Samedi or Saturday School, is in session three times a month. The alliance has watched the program grow in popularity as parents of New York City boroughs, such as Manhattan and Brooklyn, enroll their children in bilingual schools.
“When families move to Greenwich, they look to preserve that experience,” Trippitelli said. “We have American families with bilingual children.”
The educators are rolling out two new workshops this year, too. In its Immersion Workshop, adults can come once a month for a two-hour session either completely in French or English.
“This is unique,” she said. “It’s not a class. You don’t need to commit every week. We know everyone has a busy schedule, you can still do it once a month.”
Students who have tried to perfect their pronunciation for years now have access to a special workshop taught by the alliance’s instructors, who are all native French speakers.
She said the Alliance Francaise in Greenwich is a beautiful community because it attracts Francophiles from out of town, too, including Darien and Wilton.
It also attracts non-French speakers. Ketcham emphasized the alliance teaches French culture to those who cannot or do not want to learn the language itself.
“It’s a very inclusive community in the tri-state area,” she said.