A Journey to France: Students Embrace Language and Culture Beyond the Classroom

Rebecca De Smet, Zara Goundrey and Ruby Hughes

Over the Christmas holidays, three Year 12 French students embarked on an exciting adventure to France. Year 12 students Zara Goundrey, Ruby Hughes, and Rebecca De Smet seized the opportunity to practice their French language skills and immerse themselves in the vibrant culture they study in class. Their experiences were not just about learning grammar and vocabulary; they were about stepping into the heart of France and embracing all it had to offer. 

For Rebecca, the decision to travel to France was fuelled by a desire to deepen her understanding of the French language and culture. “We wanted to learn more about the French language and culture that we study daily in class with Mademoiselle Heekeng,” she explains. “Being constantly surrounded by native speakers challenged us to improve our oral skills and foster personal growth.”

Ruby echoes Rebecca’s sentiments, highlighting the profound impact of immersion on language learning. “I completed my education in a three-week course through Alliance Français in Montpellier. I would start my schooling at 1.00 pm and finish at 5.00 pm. Just the experience of being constantly surrounded by the French language rather than English was such a surreal feeling,” Ruby reflects. “Visiting historic sites like the Mont Saint Michel, Château de Versailles and even interacting with people at the local bakery forced me to think on my feet and engage in spontaneous conversations. It was an invaluable experience.”

However, their journey was not without its challenges. Zara recounts the difficulties of navigating daily life in a foreign country, from overcoming the language barrier to adjusting to cultural differences. “Living alone in Sancerre with Rebecca presented its challenges for us, especially with the language barrier,” she shares. “But through intensive language lessons at Coeur de France and immersion in the local community, we were able to adapt and thrive. We became independent and navigated daily French life together.”

Despite these challenges, the students found moments of connection and joy that reaffirmed their love for the French language and culture. Rebecca fondly remembers engaging in conversations with a local man, an experience that made her feel more connected to the language. “Meeting with a local man and participating in conversations with him in French was incredibly rewarding,” she says. “It showed us the power of language to bridge cultural divides and forge meaningful connections.”

Reflecting on their journey, the girls offer words of wisdom to future travellers. Zara advises thorough research and preparation, emphasising the importance of embracing cultural differences and immersing oneself fully in the experience. “Travelling on an independent study tour was both nerve-wracking and exciting,” she says. “But by being open-minded and willing to try new things, we were able to enrich our experience and create lasting memories.”

As their French immersion drew to a close, the girls bid farewell to France, carrying with them an appreciation for the language and culture that had enriched their lives. Such experiences connect our students’ learning to life, enhancing their classroom lessons and providing a glimpse of the possibilities their skills can unlock in the future.

Au revoir!

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