Last week, I had an amazing opportunity to visit a local French school for a day and can hardly contain my excitement to share with you all that I learned! My visit even made the local newspaper! Fair warning: This post might get a little lengthy!
First off, I want to acknowledge that there are numerous differences between French schools and U.S. schools. The grade levels are the most apparent and difficult aspect for me to remember! Because it would be extremely difficult to try and explain, I have provided a lovely chart created by FrenchCrazy.com to help! The school I was invited to would be considered a "college" which is absolutely not the same type of college as back home! I had the opportunity to talk to three different classes and got to observe a debate team meeting, as well. I spoke in English since the students were in their English class. They asked me all sorts of questions, and I did my best to answer.
Some questions focused on me, personally, such as "What is your greatest fear?" or "What is your happiest memory?". Other questions focused on my opinion of environmental conditions such as "What do you think about Global Warming?", "Do you recycle?" and questions involving eco-friendly habits that take place (or do not take place) back home in America. One of the most popular questions seemed to be "What do you think of Donald Trump?" The students seemed very interested in the political arena of American politics, and I don't disagree that that particular topic is presently a topic of intrigue, but I can't recall ever being genuinely interested in anything political in my middle school years.
The French students may have learned a few things about my home-country, but in turn, I learned so much about France as well. For example, recycling would almost be considered mandatory with how commonplace is actually is. You would be considered odd for NOT recycling. This seems bizarre for someone like me who has made an effort to be more eco-friendly but has never owned numerous trash cans for paper, plastic, aluminum, glass, and other products.
Also, the students taught me about the language requirements in the French public school system. It's normal to begin learning their native language(French)in the first years of schooling and soon after, they are required to begin studying their second language (typically English), BUT by the time they are in high school, they are learning yet another language! Before "graduation" (obtaining their BAC), they will be familiar with or fluent in three different languages! It's an amazing concept!
Because I needed a few tips from the experts, I asked the students for suggestions to improve my immersion in the French culture. They provided me with a list of traditional dishes to try, as well as French movies and music artists to look up. They gushed about their favorite singers and recommended which ones to avoid. I wanted to share the lists with you as well, for curiosity's sake. Before I left, the students presented me with little gifts and homemade desserts. They set me up to look like France's biggest fan (which, of course, I am!)
A bientot! -Albrianna