The benefits of immersion in French

The benefits of immersion in French

Form 7 had a great trip to Normandy.

You might have heard of a little trip year 7 did last month? The French trip to Normandie obviously!! What else could I write about when it is still so present in my lessons? The trip was a great success as much for the children as for the teachers. We stayed in a refurbished farm called La Grand’Ferme in the countryside, we visited gorgeous places such as the Mont St Michel, ate delicious foods, petted animals and... Wait...don’t think this was an excuse for a weekend escapade!

Au contraire!!

The main aim of this trip was not just the visits but more the immersion type of education the children were getting out of it. During the trip, the children were spoken to only in French and were encouraged to speak French in return through miming and repetitions. For instance they were told every morning in French, what food they had on their table, how to ask for more to the chef and how to clear their tables after breakfast, meaning repetition of words such as cutlery, foods etc.

But the benefits were not just visible during the trip:

Before going to France:

Motivation was a key word before, during and after the trip. I have seen pupils trying harder in class as we spent the first three weeks preparing for the trip. We revised some basics like weather, foods or how to ask for foods. They also created role plays in class to practice their speaking before arriving there (we had some very ‘interesting’ weather forecasts and shopping enquiries!). You could feel the excitation growing as the trip got nearer.

While in France:

It was amazing to see the effort some pupils who are usually shy would actually put into understanding and using the language on site. As teachers we felt like meeting new pupils sometimes! Several times we, teachers, were surprised to hear children speaking French to each other just for fun during their free-time (while playing cards in the coach for instance). During a trip like this children get a chance to learn about the culture as much as the language and it gives them a chance to try new things and discover a new motivation for a subject, here French.

After:

Since we have been back, we have been using more target language in the classroom than before. I can tell how much the trip has boosted some children. All the pupils have been writing mini-posters about the activities they have done and what they really liked or not. I was delightfully surprised to see them all trying hard. Especially, pupils who are usually reluctant in writing anything needed to be slowed down a little as they wanted to describe every single aspect of their trip (the display boards would not have been big enough). The mini-posters are now displayed around the school along with some pictures if you want to have a look for yourself.

So, in brief, a trip abroad is not just about the fun and the visits but about the motivation as much as the insight into a culture and a way of life the children get out of it. It is about the will to communicate with others even if you make mistakes as long as the message gets through. It is about getting out of your comfort zone and push yourself to try harder. This trip is also about pride and ownership: it was the 2018 year 7 trip to Normandie and it belongs to them now and they can be proud of what they have gained from it. They made it a success and I am sure the year 6 have heard some of their stories and now are wondering what I am cooking up for them next year...to be continued.

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Cargilfield where everyday is an adventure

Welcome to Cargilfield! We hope this short film gives you a glimpse of what life is like for the girls and boys at our school. We would love to welcome you in person to tour Cargilfield and explain more fully exactly what makes a Cargilfield education so special and so different. Please get in touch with Fiona Craig, our Registrar if you would like to find out more; her email address is [email protected] or you can telephone her on 0131 336 2207.

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