Consulate General of France, Los Angeles Consul General Axel Cruau, right, receives a gift from a student during his visit to the Kindergarten French dual-immersion class at Franklin Elementary School in Glendale on Thursday, February 14, 2013.

Consulate General of France, Los Angeles Consul General Axel Cruau, right, receives a gift from a student during his visit to the Kindergarten French dual-immersion class at Franklin Elementary School in Glendale on Thursday, February 14, 2013. (Raul Roa/Staff photographer / February 14, 2013)

French Consul Axel Cruau visited Benjamin Franklin Magnet Elementary on Thursday to observe the first contingent of students enrolled in the school’s French dual-language immersion program.

The kindergartners in the program spend most of the day speaking and learning in French.

Out of 146 applications that the district received, just 24 students hold spots in the program this year and roughly a third of the group come from French speaking homes.

The French program is among the most popular dual-language immersion programs at Franklin, where students can also enroll in German, Spanish and Italian.

“Kids have this opportunity to have this dual culture and being able to keep it,” Cruau said, who arrived in Los Angeles five months ago from Paris.

He briefly compared his own perspective on America’s education system compared to France.

“Coming from Paris, it is great being here,” he said.”Our education — it’s much more about critique and ‘Let’s be rational.’ Everything here is ‘Let’s try to do it and be positive.’”

Curriculum specialist and teacher Catherine Moine, who was born and raised in Paris, is writing the curriculum for the program.

After the kindergartners sang Cruau songs in French, the school’s staff voiced their needs and discussed the challenges that come with building a program that will take the students through the sixth grade.

One major challenge is the costly price of ordering textbooks from France and paying the high shipping fees.

Staff members at Franklin have taken to ordering books for their Italian program through the Italian Foundation, which orders books from Italy at a special price. Glendale Unified also doesn’t have to pay the cost of shipping.

On that note, Cruau said he’d be in touch “to see what we can do.”

“There might be practical things I can help you with,” he said.

-- Kelly Corrigan, Times Community News

Follow Kelly Corrigan on Twitter: @kellymcorrigan