French to be phased out of World Language offerings

Hobbs Hegedus and Beni Jurion

Shortly before the 2019 Summer vacation, the previous French teacher, Madame Davis, announced her retirement after many years as the face of the French World Language program at Seattle Prep.

Assistant Principal of Academics, Mrs. Kheriaty commented “It is always challenging to say goodbye to a teacher who’s been part of the Prep community for so many eyars. It’s especially challenging when that teacher has developed a particular program as Madame Davis had with our French program.”

Prior to Davis’ retirement, Seattle Prep decided to phase out the French program.

Kheriaty explained the decision “Once we learned that Madame Davis would be retiring from Seattle Prep, the administration began to evaluate our French program and determine how best to move forward. We examined our French enrollment data over the past several years and gathered data regarding World Language offerings at a number of Jesuit High Schools across the country as well as local Catholic, public, and private high schools. This data informed our decisions. The final decision regarding this change was made in Spring 2019.”

To continue the tradition of French as a world language, Prep brought in a new teacher, Mme. Mobarek. Now Mme. Mobarek has been tasked with the difficult task of teaching three levels of French learners.

Kheriaty added “…we are thrilled to have found Yasmina Mobarek to take over our French 2, 3, and 4 courses. Madame Mobarek is a native French speaker who earned a Doctorate in French Literature from Yale University.  She brings extensive French Language and Literature teaching experience to Prep, having worked at the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Missouri – Kansas City, Johns Hopkins University, and the University of Washington. Madame Davis worked with Madame Mobarek last spring to help her transition.”

Such decisions are not made without consulting student data. Kheriaty continued “The past several years, the requests for French were decreasing such that it was difficult to maintain courses at each level. This trend in student interest coupled with the data we gathered about how many languages a school the size of Seattle Prep can reasonably sustain drove us to decide eliminate French as an option for incoming students. That said, we are committed to the students who have already been studying French at Seattle Prep and, therefore, will be phasing it out over a few years rather than just eliminating it at once.”

This transition in and out has been both difficult for the staff as well as the students. Making this a topic that is often on the minds of students.

“I love the new teacher, but I’m worried about what will happen to French,” said Sophia Zaboukos ‘22.

Many French students agree with this and share Zaboukos’ concerns. Now without French the rest of the languages will share the oncoming grades without a fourth class, leading to larger classes or more sections of German, Chinese, or Spanish Classes.

This transition of the programs has been accepted by the classes as they enjoy the new French teacher a great deal.
Bea Obaob ‘22 spoke about this, and said “Yeah, I think without more than four languages the other classes will be crowded.”

So, this leaves the question, what will Prep do about the new void in its language department? Only time will tell as the students wait to see how the departure of French from the curriculum will impact the school as a whole.

Despite the changes to the department, students have found that there are many different ways of learning French. Julian Bransier 21’ said “I can’t tell whether the style is better or the same than Madame Davis.”

While the French foreign language offerings are phased out, current French students are building their skills to prepare for the next level of the course.