French Exchange Return Leg
On Wednesday 15 March, we departed for the return leg of the French Exchange with our partner school Notre Dame de Mongre in Lyon. After some delay at Birmingham Airport, we all arrived safely at the Saint Exupery airport in Lyon where our students were greeted by a French Mexican wave from their penfriends and their families. The group then went their separate ways to relax with their exchange families for the evening.
On Thursday, we visited Lyon. First we went to the Basilica, climbed all the way to the top roof where we were able to enjoy the wonderful views of the city. Then, we went to the older parts of the city where we explored the narrow streets and discovered secret passages which led from one street to another. These are called 'traboules' in France and one can admire the Italian architecture in the design of interior courtyards. Students were also treated to a delicious ice cream by the French teachers. A great first day under the French sun!
The next day both the French and English students were treated to a visit to Touro Parc Zoo. On arrival they were asked to take part in a quiz involving both languages. Both groups were able to use the activity to learn and teach each other new words like “flamant rose” for flamingo. After lunch, the group went on to explore the zoo on their own and go on the many different attractions available on site. Some nice moments were shared here with their exchange partners. Students then returned to their host families for the weekend to explore the region further with them.
On Monday, we went to Villefranche where the school of Mongre is located. Students started lessons at 8am and then at 9am were given a guided tour of the school. The tour included visiting the school's chapel, the cellar, the archives room and a detailed history about the buildings. Then we took our students to an indoor market in the town centre where they were able to practise speaking French. The students were given a list of questions which they had to answer whilst looking around. Benjamin, Wolfgang and John came joint first in this little competition and won the prize of some local fruit.
At 11am, we walked to the "mairie" (town hall) and were given a welcoming speech by the woman in charge of culture. Students were also spoilt with some brioche, drinks and a souvenir bag. Following this welcome, we headed back to the school to have lunch in the canteen or at their host family’s home for students residing locally. In the afternoon, students experienced two English lessons. In the first one, they were able to converse in a mix of French and English with other students on a variety of topics. In the second, they took part in a Franco-English quiz about general knowledge. After this experience, they then followed their exchange to a third lesson before going home. A great day enjoyed by all and a great opportunity for students to get first-hand experience of how a French school works.
On Tuesday we spent the day in Lyon with our students. We first walked along the Rhône river where we admired some interesting modern buildings like the Euro News headquarters. Then, students spent some free time in a shopping mall before going to the 'musée des confluences'. We were give a guided tour of the museum before heading into the city centre. Students enjoyed their packed lunch in a little nearby square and then spent an hour exploring the streets of Lyon. We saw the Opera House, the Hotel de Ville and we could see the Basilica from a distance. The sun shone all day and some students were even able to get a tan.
We spent our last day doing an orienteering race around the grounds of the school in the morning. Then, we took our students to the town centre of Villefranche for a treasure hunt in French and English. Students were able to practise their language skills as they had to ask locals to answer some of their questions. After this, we walked back to the school to have lunch before boarding the coach to go to the airport. The departure brought some tears on both sides with some last minute photos and lots of goodbyes shouted through the coach windows. It was a great experience for our students both linguistically and culturally. They were able to learn a lot about the French culture, taste different foods and gain confidence in speaking the language. Lots of memories to share with friends and family. “Tout le monde a passé un bon moment en France et tout le monde était content de rentrer pour retrouver sa famille”.
Report by Mr Giraudon, Head of MFL