I remember exactly the moment that I fell in love with all things French. Having traveled the country extensively and mangled the language thoroughly, I decided to ask Maria Kurt, owner and founder of thFrench Institute of the North Shorehow and why she fell in love with France and French culture.
And so it was her mother who inspired her and taught her that there is a much wider world out there beyond our own. Although her family lived in quaint Whitefish Bay in Wisconsin, her mother loved the international community and traveled abroad often. When Maria was 16 she went on a grand two-month tour of Europe where France inevitably grabbed her heart.
Maria went on to major in French in college . . . then spent a year in Paris . . . then was awarded her Master's Degree in French and Education . . . then spent another year in Paris . . . and then taught high school French for many years. In 1998 she opened the French Institute of the North Shore in Winnetka as an adult French language school.
In 2000 she bought the building where the school currently operates at 562 Green Bay Road in Winnetka and expanded it to include a French immersion preschool. They offer half-day and full-day programs 5 days a week. From day one, only French is spoken and within 1 month, the children are happily comprehending French stories with complete ease. Maria says that the children's oral comprehension (the most difficult task for a student of language) is excellent since they have been hearing it spoken for so many years. After the children enter grammar school, the French Institute offers Continuing Education, an after school program, twice a week until they reach high school.
Students learn more than just the language - lots of fun cultural activities keep the children involved and motivated including a February 2 holiday that features crepe making and Mardi Gras in March. The students have their own kitchen area to prepare French specialties.
Upon entering her foyer you will be pleasantly surprised to find yourself in an office building somewhere in Paris - such is the welcoming feeling of this salon-like room. All rooms in the school are named: the Paris and Versailles rooms for adult learning, Provence for the very country feeling kitchen, and L'Orangerie, le Jardin, and Le Cote d'Azure for the children's rooms.
Maria's staff of teachers are all from France and generally take a year long sabbatical from their teaching jobs in France. Approximately 50% of the students are from Winnetka and 50% from surrounding communities which helps to bring in a diverse group of students.
If you would like to brush up your French or would like to introduce your children to the wonders of another culture and language, please give the French Institute of the North Shore a call. Marie serait heureuse de vous en dire plus sur l'ecole!
French Institute of the North Shore - French School
562 Green Bay Road, Winnetka, IL 60093