On s'améliore en français!

Authored by:
Jeff Pageau

Jeff Pageau

You may be wondering, what's it like to be a student in the HSSA Language & Culture program?   The heat this week has presented unusual challenges, but the students have been committed to their studies in spite of the weather (it was 107 degrees yesterday!).    The students in this program are immersed in French langauge and culture 24/7 during their month-long stay in Rennes.  Let's take a look at a typical day in our program.

During the day, they attend French classes taught be local FLE teachers (français langue étrangère / French as a foreign language) for 3 hours.  These teachers are skilled at teaching French to non-native speakers of the language.  Because this program is for students who are more advanced in their years of studies of the langauge, there is a "no English" rule, with the exception where personal health or safety are concerned.  Each week of the program is dedicated to exploring a different cultural subject through engaging activities and resources.  The emphasis of this program is placed on oral expression.  Here's a quick overview of our themes that the students will be exploring during their month in Rennes:

  • Week 1: Identity
    • There was a focus on Breton identity and cultural heritage.  Students explored the city and engaged in conversations with locals about the history and culture of Rennes.
  • Week 2: Artistic Expression
    • This week, the students will be visiting various art museums, both traditional and contemporary, to explore the connections to art and Rennes.  Tomorrow, they will be taking a walking tour to explore street art in Rennes and conclude by making their own mural with the assitance of local street artists!
  • Week 3: Discovery
    • The students will be exploring various social issues impacting France and will develop a public awareness campaign on an issue of their choice.
  • Week 4: Personal Growth

What do students say about their French classes?  Students have shared that their French classes with CIEE are typically more engaging than their French classes back in the US.  They are very excited by the topics of study because they are relevent and issues that they can easily connect with.  Said one student, "I'm not used to speaking this much French in my class at home.  I love that I have to speak French all the time."

In the afternoon, the students leave the classroom with new knowledge, vocabulary, and expressions that they can connect to their cultural activity that is lead by their program leaders.  These activities, like everything else in our program, are conducted in French by the program leader staff.  Check out our other blog entries to learn more about typical cultural activities that we have already done....and keep checking back throughout the month!  Our function is to support language learning outside of the classroom while helping our students navigate the culture.

At the end of our program day, the students have free time to explore the city independently with their new friends from the program.  In the evening, language and cultural learning continues with host families.  It's a great opportunity for students to continue to stay engaged in the langauge while gaining a better understanding of the day-to-day culture of France.

As a French teacher, what I like most about this program is having the ability to have the entire city of Rennes to be by classroom.  I can try to replicate experiences from real life in my classroom in North Carolina, but it always feels artificial.  There's nothing quite like having an entire French city at your disposal as your classroom while living the experience immersed in the langauge and culture.  

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