History

Jacques Pinault, En Famille’s founder, was born and educated in France. As a young man he felt the English he had learned in school was not adequate to have ordinary conversation.  He was disappointed by this and decided that children should learn at a younger age and through in-country language immersion. His original idea was to send children on exchanges as young as 6 years old!

And another surprise in Jacques’ philosophy: children did not need to speak even one word of the language of the country where they would go. Jacques believed that children who learned completely through immersion would have the best pronunciation and intonation, without having to unlearn bad habits or accents.

After many discussions with friends, the first experiment began in September 1978 with two 8 year-old children, Xavier (French) and Alison (English).  This exchange was successful and led to two other applications.

Two years later a group of parents decided to form a non-profit organization. The name « En Famille » was proposed and accepted at the founding General Meeting. Twelve years later the name « En Famille International » was suggested and accepted with another vote.

In September 1986, after much work and many meetings, the first exchange was made with the Republic of Ireland.

In February 1989, Ian, the eldest son of Jacques, the founder, participated in the first German exchange. His three brothers and sister followed.

It was not until September 1991 that exchanges were allowed for children more than 12 years old. This opportunity for children older than 12 was available only to those who had previously experienced an En Famille exchange.

In September 1997, the first exchange with an American child took place.

In September 2000, Aline, a young girl from France (Brittany) flew to Australia!

In September 2007, En Famille first exchanged with Spain.

To date we have helped more than 2,600 children realize the dream to become bilingual through in-country language immersion, living abroad for six months, and welcoming a new sibling into their home.  And it continues thanks to the commitment of many people — our team, our volunteers, and our board of directors — committed to preserving Jacques’ original idea.

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