The «Calandretas» are lay schools run by volunteers, which apply a total immersion method of Occitan language learning, right from the nursery school: the aim being to allow the child to become bi-lingual in French and Occitan, and to provide it with the linguistic components of each language, in full respect of the specific elements of each. The first «Calandreta» (in the Occitan language it means a young lark, who is about to fly) it was founded in 1979 in Pau (in Béarn) and was soon followed by that of Béziers. These schools employ qualified teachers and follow programmes complying with that of the French National Educational curriculum.
Today the Calandretas of the entire Occitany area, are attended by about two thousand students. A middle school has also been opened (the Collège Léon Cordas) in Linguadoc and another is under preparation in Béarn. The teaching principle of the Calandretas is teaching geared to an international level through a bi-lingual approach. The teaching system is based on the concept of autonomy and Occitan is the language taught and the language used for teaching. These schools have had a deep impact on the image of the language, which only twenty years ago was considered as being the language of old people and peasants: thanks to these two teaching trends Occitan has become an urbane language of the young, the future makers and shakers of Europe. The Calandretas are not isolated examples, other schools have been opened, belonging to the same movement: «Ikastòlas» (Basque Country), «Diwan» (Brittany), “Bressòlas” (Catalonia). In order for Occitan to assure its future, the language must be re-taught from the school: the Calandretas, have outlined the path to be followed.