We always tried to combine a certain amount of fun with something that was quite educational. We also liked to give the students a little free time but only so much that they couldn’t get into trouble in that time or get lost. And as always when taking young people out of school we had a plan for the worst case scenario but hoped for the best.
So, we included:
· A set of instructions in French that guided the students through the town.
· A sort of I-spy exercise where they have to find examples of types of shops, goods sold in them and prices
· A shopping exercise
· A café exercise
· A creative writing exercise (in French – oh yes!)
· A collecting of language exercise. You are surrounded by language when you are in a foreign country. You can hear and see it all around.
It was always important as well to allow some down time. They needed time just to stand and stare.
Students worked in groups of between eight and ten and had one responsible adult with them. This might be a teacher of French, a teacher of another subject, a language assistant, a parent who had come along or a student teacher. The trickier characters were assigned to the more experienced teachers.
In some cases the students knew more than the adult in the group and anyway it was always part of the café exercise that the students ordered for the adult.
Free-time was staggered and the adults hung around in a designated space that any child separated from his / her group could report to. We did all of this initially before the days of mobile phones. The latter of course have made this a lot easier.
Back in the classroom for the last few days of term students would carry on working on their projects. They were encouraged to take photos. An accidental one was beautifully appropriate. One girl took a picture of a display in a bridal-wear shop. The photo showed the reflection of the group staring at the window. She had captured the English admiring the French.
“It’s the same as in England but different as well, isn’t it?” she said.
Spot on. That’s how we learn from each other. Take an appreciative look. Be amazed at the difference but be even more amazed about what is the same.
If you’d like some more details about the activities described above, just comment and I’ll blog about them individually.