The French Institute Alliance Française (FIAF) is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization incorporated in the State of New York, not an agency of the French government. One of the largest and most respected centers of French-American activities in the U.S., FIAF is the result of the 1972 merger of the French Institute and the Alliance Française de New York, two early 20th century organizations dedicated to exhibiting French art and French language-learning respectively.
FIAF’s mission is to promote and enhance the knowledge and appreciation of French and Francophone cultures, to increase the knowledge of the French language, and to encourage cross-cultural interaction through programs in education and the arts.
Located in a beautiful Beaux-Arts building at 22 East 60th Street between Madison and Park Avenues, FIAF is in the center of New York City, steps away from Central Park. The modern building has a sleek entryway with a charming art gallery on the 1st floor. Vibrant colors animate classroom walls, creating a refreshing, playful, and light-filled aesthetic.
FIAF is well-known for the quality of its language classes. 6,000 students a year of all ages, including 425 toddlers, benefit from our faculty of 60 knowledgeable teachers, all native speakers. FIAF’s Haskell Library is the most comprehensive private French Library in the United States. The welcoming Library enriches language-learning with a dedicated children’s area and activities tied to the curriculum to make learning French fun. Our cultural programs in the 400-seat Florence Gould Hall, Tinker Auditorium, and elegant Skyroom further augment the language-learning experience with customized performances, exhibits, talks, and activities. As part of a new focus on family at FIAF, our entire team is dedicated to expanding and enriching the programs devoted to children.
FIAF’s Language Center has been the premier destination for French language-learning in New York for over 100 years. Our reputation is built on the excellence of our French teachers. They all share French as their mother tongue and have been trained to teach French as a foreign language. Our classes are small to give individual attention to each student. Most classrooms have high-tech, interactive Smart Boards™ that make learning French playful, fun, and efficient.
FIAF is on the cutting-edge of language instruction and regularly updates teaching methodologies, materials, and technologies. Teacher’s Workshops at FIAF offer continuous training and professional development for all staff.
FIAF offers the most diverse, extensive array of classes in the Alliance Française network. We offer French workshops on cooking and wine tasting, as well as practical lessons on translation, business, and legal French. Students form a unique community of people united by their love of French language and culture, despite different economic, ethnic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds.
The idea for the FIAF Preschool sprung from the overwhelming success of FIAF’s French language program for toddlers, called à petits pas. Launched in 2005, à petits pas responded to the wealth of research touting the many benefits of learning a second language in early childhood. The à petits pas program has experienced enormous growth in the past 5 years, increasing from 63 children to over 425 a year.
Structurally unique in its approach, à petits pas introduces children ages 1 to 5 to French language and culture. 1 year olds are taught in forty-five minute blocks, while children ages 2 to 5 have one and a half hours of instruction per week. Though most children come only once a week, some parents register their children for 2 classes a week during 11-week sessions to reinforce the French language skills.
During the immersion classes, multi-sensory and teach-by-play techniques are used to reach communication objectives and develop language proficiency. Each child is accompanied at all times by either a parent or guardian who is asked to actively participate in the activities, so they can be repeated at home.
à petit pas was created by teachers with extensive knowledge and experience both in France and the United States. The program is regularly updated under the guidance of current experts, such as Hélène Vanthier and Corinne Marchois, authors of children’s French language textbooks and teacher trainers at the Institute for School Teacher Training in France.
We believe new language acquisition for a child needs to extend beyond the classroom and stress the importance of additional language exposure through diverse activities. We offer French storytelling workshops, crafts and game sessions, and cooking classes tied to the curriculum, to playfully explore language in a new way.
In 2010, 425 toddlers from ages 1 to 5 enjoyed FIAF's popular à petits pas French for toddlers classes, successful program begun by FIAF that has inspired similar French programs for toddlers throughout the Alliance Française network, both in the U.S. and abroad. Feedback from parents reflects their satisfaction with their children's understanding and use of French, not only in the classroom where only French is spoken, but more importantly, unprompted in their own home.
“It was our daughter, Annabelle's first “à petits pas” and she started from 11 [months]. She took 2 classes a week, and both were wonderful. She really loved it and I loved it also. We want to continue to be committed to FIAF classes and we recommend FIAF to all our friends.”
—Kyoko, à petits pas Mom
“The teacher has a natural gift of communication with children... She commands the children's attention with a smile and a whisper and keeps their attention by talking to (not at) them… The teaching style was effective for my son, Maxwell, as he now speaks some French spontaneously, responds in French if addressed in French, and has remained interested enough in learning French that he is presently enrolled in the Spring Session.”
—Fia, à petits pas Mom
“The teacher was terrific. Samuel told me after our last class that he would miss her very much. He gets some exposure to French at his pre-K now, but this has really been an enjoyable time for him and he has opened up more with his pre-K teacher as well. Thank you very much!”
—Mickael, à petits pas Dad
“A great program—well organized and run with a great teacher. My daughter is enjoying the program and I look forward to her continuing her studies.”
—Kristen, à petits pas Mom
Graduates of the à petits pas program have moved on to some of the best schools in New York with the support and guidance of FIAF teachers and staff. From schools that require a high level of French language, such as the Lycée Français de New York and the United Nations International School, to top private schools such as the Trinity School, Dalton School, and Chapin School, FIAF prepares students to excel academically.