The wave of Hispanics who flooded the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina doesn't appear to have dampened Louisiana families' demand for their children to get a French education.
There's a waiting list at all 29 of the state's public French immersion programs, and this year at least one school — the International School of Louisiana in New Orleans — received more applications for its French program than ever before.
Demand for Spanish language education remains strong, both for local use and as a language of inter-American commerce. But even some Spanish-speakers are seeking French language education for their children.
Gayle Perez, a New Orleans native who grew up speaking Spanish because of her Ecuadorean parents , enrolled her son in ISL's French program. Now 10 years old, Alejandro Perez, is fluent in English, Spanish and French.
"It was the best thing I could have done for my son," Perez said. "He's not just learning a new language. He is learning that there's another part of the world out there, one that's not only English-speaking or only Spanish-speaking."