Francophone Charter School of Oakland

Community Subscriber

Charter School
English, French
170 students
Email: contact [at] francophoneschool.orgPhone: 510-746-0700
9736 Lawlor Street Oakland, CA 94605
Program Type: 
Language immersion

The Francophone Charter School of Oakland is a tuition-free French immersion public charter elementary school, located in the Toler Heights neighborhood of Oakland.  The school uses the French language and the many interwoven cultures associated with it to develop bilingual and bi-literate global citizens who are open-minded and value intellectual curiosity, personal integrity and creativity.  The school opened in 2015 and is growing one grade at a time each year, to reach 8th grade in the 2020-21 school year.  Our enrollment period for the 2020-21 school year is November 5, 2019 - February 7, 2020 to apply for grades Transitional Kindergarten (TK) through 8th grade.  Students can enter Kindergarten with no previous exposure to the French language.  Students entering grades 1-8 will need to show grade-level proficiency in French.  Detailed enrollment available at

Parent Q&A

Updated Reviews / Francophone Charter Mar 18, 2019 (1 responses below)
Francophone Charter School Oakland Aug 20, 2018 (1 responses below)
Charter Schools and Francophone Mar 17, 2017 (2 responses below)
  • Updated Reviews / Francophone Charter

    (1 reply)

    I'm looking for updated reviews on Francophone Charter school. We toured the facility and noticed some things we liked and didn't like. The Cons: We are less than thrilled by the campus and class sizes appear to be large. The Pros: The children look happy and the parents we met seem to be pleased with the school. The French immersion program is a huge draw for us because we want our children to be fluent in French. We're not sure if school is a good fit for our child because he is high-energy and we're worried he might get lost or left out in a class with so many kids. He's currently enrolled at EB for preschool and doing well. We really love it there but the cost of private school tuition for two children is taking a toll on our family's budget. Are there any parents who transitioned their children from EB to Francophone?  Did your children adjust well to larger class sizes? Academically, how do the two schools compare? Any information or feedback from current Francophone parents would be greatly appreciated!


    We also debated between EB and Francophone and chose Francophone, and it has worked out well so far for our kindergartener.  I think from an academic perspective they actually aren't dramatically different, certainly not different enough to justify the $30,000 price difference per kid per year.  Teacher/student ratio is definitely better at EB.  Teachers are generally newer/younger at Francophone.  Francophone just received the official French "Label" this year so that means they're going to be able to recruit/retain more experienced teachers going forward.  Both schools have plenty of wriggly kindergarten boys, and both schools are places where your kid will be immersed in French.  It just depends on what you want to prioritize.

  • Francophone Charter School Oakland

    (1 reply)


    Can anyone share any thoughts about Francophone charter school of Oakland, preferably from this past year 2017-2018. We just got of the waitlist and are considering starting this year. Thank you!

    We're really happy with the school overall, for two reasons.  First is we really enjoy the other families and the sense of community.  Second is our kid has picked up so much French in two years there.  And we don't speak any French at home, either.  Since it's still a new school the parents are really involved and I think that's why there's such a strong community.  Of course like any school some parents are a lot more involved than others, so you don't have to volunteer all the time, but you will be asked to.  There's been a lot of turnover with staff which has been hard but from what we've heard, that's very typical of a new school or start up of any kind, really. 

  • Charter Schools and Francophone

    (2 replies)

    My daughter is 5 & will be entering kindergarten. She got into 2 charter schools -- North Oakland Community & Francophone. I'm trying to make a decision but would like some reviews on both schools.

    We have been very happy with Francophone.  Teachers are absolutely wonderful and the school community is warm and diverse (coming from all over the globe as well as all over the East Bay).  As you know it is a new school and that means there are still some areas where they're figuring it out, as would be expected.  No school is perfect.  Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to go to a neighborhood school, and while I can imagine the benefits of that, I've also seen that when you have people specifically choosing a school and coming from all over the East Bay to attend that means you have parents and families who are really invested in the place.  If you want true language immersion, diversity, and a tight-knit "roll up your sleeves and pitch in" kind of school community, I think you'd be very happy there.    

    We tried Francophone last fall and ended up withdrawing our child. When we toured the school their first year, there were co-executive directors who seemed on top of things -- we particularly liked the years of experience one of the directors brought. Based on that experience we applied to Francophone and were elated when our kid was allotted a spot. We knew that the school was new and we would have to be flexible and pitch in; in fact, we looked forward to being part of that community. Unfortunately, the class (this was for a lower grade) was disorganized, I interrupted two fist fights on the first day of school (I stayed to volunteer when the teacher announced that she would love parents to stay if they could), and the playground felt dangerous (the whole school on one little play structure, which meant that the little kids were getting pushed out of the way). Some of the teaching staff were still in France and so weren't physically present for the first week of school. We loved the idea of a charter immersion school and were prepared for some disarray, but this just felt unsafe and more than we were willing to experiment as a first school experience. I'm glad to see from the other review that things seem to have settled down, but I wanted to give an alternative perspective. 

Parent Reviews

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Don’t have any firsthand experience with immersion preschools, but if you’re able to develop/maintain her French she'd likely get a spot at FCSO for kindergarten.  The school is getting more and more popular, apparently a huge waitlist for next year.  But they strive for dual immersion so kids who live in Oakland and can demonstrate age-appropriate French proficiency are pretty much guaranteed a spot.  We attend the school and the community of families is really exceptional.

My son goes to the East Bay Francophone Charter School. It is a start-up, so you have to be okay with that environment, which has its pluses and minuses. For example, the location is gritty, and while we are actively looking for a larger space, it's hard to say what will happen, or when. Everyone can get involved with shaping the school's identity, which (for me) is exciting and worthwhile. The educational experience is top-notch, and that's why we will stay. It is full immersion: 80% of the day is in French for the younger students. Without a doubt, your child will become bilingual. This is very good for the brain, no matter what the second language. On top of that, teachers trained in the French educational system receive superb pedagogical preparation--significantly better, in general, than teacher prep programs here in the US. The English teacher last year was terrific too. The school is very diverse socio-economically, ethnically, racially. There is an active, friendly, inclusive parent community, both native speakers and non-French speakers. Come to an open house and see for yourself!

Our family is French-speaking, multiracial, and part working class/low income background, so we have a lot in common.  We know families who have been involved with both Les Petits Francophones and Ecole Bilingue, but since we haven't personally attended either school I would not want to make some sort of public comment about either as it's all secondhand.  However, we are currently enrolled at Francophone Charter School in Oakland and I can't say enough positive things about this wonderful, diverse gem of a school.  We are counting our lucky stars every day that our children can attend this school for free, become truly fluent in French, and still spend their days in an environment that reflects the world around them.  That means a sustained focus on global Francophone culture (vs. a France-centric approach) as well as learning alongside children from a full spectrum of neighborhoods, cultures, and backgrounds in Oakland and the East Bay.  The school is still new, so that brings with it lots of challenges, but the staff and parents are so creative and resourceful, the teachers have been uniformly excellent, and we love the families who are invested in making the school grow.  So if French is important to you, take heart: even if you go to a non-French-speaking preschool this is a unique opportunity for language immersion in a truly diverse environment later on.

Regarding Francophone Charter School of Oakland, there was a TK wait list for this year. There was also a change in school leadership from last year. If you do decide to consider the school, I suggest finding out as much as you can about plans for next year, faculty retention, potential site changes, and the hiring/recruitment process for teachers. 

If you're open to dual immersion in French, don't forget about Francophone Charter School of Oakland.  The school is in its second year of operation, and there was a lottery for K this year but it's certainly possible to get in.  Not sure if there will be a lottery for TK but I know they offer a TK program. 

We put our Kindergartener in Francophone Charter School of Oakland in August of this year (2015). Her teacher is kind, disciplined, and great at communicating with me when I have questions. I feel so lucky that my daughter has her as a teacher and am worried we are spoiled for future years! I also really love that she (and all the other teachers at FCSO) are native French speakers. My daughter has a really great accent already.

I have started to learn some basic French phrases but I have overwhelmingly felt accepted despite my general lack of French skills. My husband and I are both monolingual. The school has such a mix of families and I love to see the blend of community that could only be made in the Bay Area, and I think it's an especially great place because it pools from all over the Bay Area, not just Oakland.

My daughter is on the more extroverted and high energy side of the personality profile. Though she had a time of adjusting to the demands of a school day, she has done well. I feel confident that we will remain at FCSO with all of our children. I am so excited that it will eventually go through 8th grade!


Archived Q&A and Reviews

Early reviews of Francophone Charter School? 

Nov 2015

Anyone have any feedback on Francophone Charter School in Oakland? We realize the school just opened this year and will inevitably go through some growing pains, but we're curious about the facility, community atmosphere, level of parent involvement, experiences with faculty and school leadership. etc. We're considering sending our child there for TK next year and he hasn't had any previous exposure to French, but we'd love for him to grow up bilingual. French curious

Hello French curious mom:

My daughter entered Francophone Charter school as a Kindergartener this fall. I am happy to talk to you personally if you wish. In short, we have been very happy. Yes there are growing pains as would be expected for a brand new school. We like the administration and have found a very diverse group of involved parents. My daughter, who tends to be a little sensitive and reserved has done very well and is quite happy to go to school. . Her french is superb for only being in an immersion situation for 3 months. The facility right now is good although not in a central location. The school may be moving next year, depending on enrollment, but the goal is to be in a central Oakland location. siobhan

Our son started Kindergarten at Francophone Charter School this year and we are so happy we decided to send him there. It being the first year, honestly my expectations were not that high because I know it takes time for new schools to get established. But so far Francophone has far exceeded my expectations. The leadership, teachers, staff, and parent community are all so dedicated and invested in the success of this school. It has a really tight-knit family community feel and you can tell the children love it there.

And let me tell you, the immersion model really works. My son had no French speaking background, and in just these 3 short months he has learned so much. He comes home rattling off new sentences in French every day and I often catch him singing French songs to himself while he's playing.

The only challenge for us has been the location since it's a little far for us. But we've worked out carpooling with other families and that has been working out well. I know many other families are doing the same to help each other out. It has not been a deal breaker for us because we know the current location is most likely temporary. For us all the extra commuting has been a small price to pay to be part of such a great school. Happy Francophone parent

March 2015

Does anyone have any info on the new French immersion charter school opening this fall in Oakland? I kind of stumbled upon it, we're very interested in putting our son in a language immersion school, but can't afford any of the private ones. We just found out about it, so we've missed some of the info sessions. Has anyone already applied/enrolled their child? What are your thoughts about the school and staff? Curious parent

Hi-- I attended an information session, and was impressed enough to apply.

What I liked about it is the immersion, of course, but also that they are not trying to be a french-american school, but truly Francophone -- i.e. teaching the language and culture of all the francophone countries. The parents who have started the school are very motivated and have the background skills to put the school together. They've been talking a lot with Yu-Ming, the other very successful Mandarin charter school in Oakland, as well as the Santa Rosa French immersion charter school. They also seem to have some consideration for other developmental things outside of learning a new language, such as socio-emotional issues. I feel like a lot of immersion schools focus too much on just teaching the new language.

I am mildly concerned that it is brand new and developing, so is somewhat of an unknown. And they don't have a location yet.

Check out their website -- I think they have a meet and greet scheduled with the principal as well as a potluck celebration this Saturday.