For the past 5 years Newbridge College has run an exchange programme with Lycée Privée St Dominique, a Dominican secondary school in Saint Herblain, Nantes (Loire Atlantique). The programme has gone from strength to strength and this year we hope to build on past successes and increase the number of participating students to 35. See the school website: www.stdominique.com
Download the French Exchange Information Form here.
Download the French Exchange Student Details Form here.
While the programme is aimed at Transition Year students, it is also open to 5th Years. Provisional dates are that the French exchange partners would come here in the middle of Feb (19/2/2013 -28/2/2013) and that our return visit would be at Easter (19/3/2013 -28/3/2013)These dates are still provisional and are subject to change.
Through the exchange programme we aim to immerse our students in French language & culture, giving them the opportunity to put their language skills to good use. It represents an ideal opportunity to go to France within a structured and supportive framework. Students who have previously participated in the programme are most positive about the experience (read their testimonies for a good insight into the experience) and some of last year’s participants want to return again this year! They found the families, teachers & students themselves most welcoming and eager to make the exchange a success.
St Dominique is a private lycée (where students spend 3 years preparing for their Bac) which shares its campus with a primary school and a ‘collège’. There are just 547 students in the lycée so it is very easy to negotiate one’s way around and integrate with the other students. (Indeed one of last year’s students commented that ‘the lycée was just one small building. I was surprised at how small the school was compared to our school.’) Because the 2013 Easter holidays of the two schools don’t overlap, our students would attend school in France with their exchange partner during their own holidays thus missing a minimum of valuable class time here.
On the outward journey, our students will be accompanied by two of their teachers to ensure the safe arrival of the group. Chantal Tran, the French co-ordinator will be at the airport to meet the group and to take them on the short tram ride to the school. Once the luggage is safely stored, there will be an informal reception in the canteen where the students meet their partners. The School Principal, M.Chapelain, will address the group as a whole to extend a warm welcome and to lay the ground rules. At this stage the Irish students will be given the timetable which they are to follow for the week and get a chance to have a look around the school.
Generally, classes begin at 8am and end at 5.50pm with a break from 12.30 to 1.50 for lunch. But these times will vary depending on the individual student’s timetable. The French families have been most welcoming to our students in the past. It is through living with this host family and sharing the experiences of everyday life that the Irish student gains valuable insight into the social habits and culture of France. This will enable him/her to improve their capacity to think in, understand and communicate through the French language.
The exchange programme is so much more than just a way to improve your French. It is an experience which has the potential to enrich your life for many years to come. As teachers, seeing our own students return from their exchange trip having grown in confidence and improved in fluency & pronunciation is wonderful. Our students generally transform from being self-conscious about speaking a foreign language to being very much at ease and much more confident communicating through French. Their use of the language moves far beyond the confines of the classroom into real life situations, their motivation being not just to improve school grades but to interact with peers, potentially making lifelong friends in the process.
On another level, our students gain a valuable insight into the mores and culture of the French themselves. They see the importance placed by the French on meals where time is taken to appreciate good food and chat at length with family & friends. They also become part not only of a French family but also of the wider school community. We will also arrange an outing to see wonderful tourist sites in Nantes such as the Château des Ducs de Bretagne and the Galeries des Machines.
Invariably, our teenagers return with a fresh perspective on their own lives, hopefully realising that for all that separates us as nations, we share more similarities with the French than differences.
Ger O’Sullivan (Exchange Co-Ordinator)
Emma Scully, Ann Marie McIntyre & Jane Mitchell
1. What are the host family expected to do when the French student arrives over?
The exchange student is expected to join in with everyday family life. Some families like to organise special outings/visits to tourist spots at the weekend but this is not obligatory. The French teachers themselves usually organise a mid-week trip into Dublin. The host family will also need to help the French exchange partner with their English language (generally there is quite a good level of English amongst the group).
2. When the Transition Year students are doing work experience, where do the French students go?
If at all possible, the exchange partner will accompany our students while doing their work experience. If this proves impossible, the Irish students can arrange for a friend to look after their partner in school for the day.
3. Is there enough room in TY and 5th Yr classes to accommodate the French students?
Generally the extra French students cause a minimum of disruption in our day to day school work. They will be allocated to various different classes in order to make numbers more manageable.
To date, the exchange students have been exceptionally well behaved and the teachers in Newbridge College have been wonderful at accommodating them in their classes. At times, the French students are invited into our French language classes in order to help students in other years improve their language skills. So the exchange has benefits for students other than those participating in the exchange.
4. How will the French students get to & from the airport?
For convenience, a bus is organised to transport the French students to and from the airport.
5. How will the Irish students get to and from the airport?
The Irish group will travel with two of their teachers and will be met at the airport by one of the French organisers. The Irish students will make the short transfer to the school in Nantes by bus. The Irish group will also be accompanied by two Irish teachers on their return journey and once again a bus will be provided for the airport transfer.
6. What do the Irish students need to bring with them?
• E111 (instantly recognisable in French hospitals)
• Valid passport.
• Private travel insurance recommended.
• Small present for the host family.
• Small amount of pocket money (students who were on the exchange last year suggested €200)
• Some schoolbooks and school assignments as there will be supervised study time in France.
• Dress for Irish weather (raincoats, fleece etc).
7. What is the dress code in the French school?
The dress code is smart casual. Smart jeans and t-shirt are perfectly acceptable. Please note:
• No tracksuits
• No short (above the knee) skirts.
• No low tops.
• No bare midrift.
• No hot pants.
8. What about lunches?
French students will be issued with a swipe card. Families may provide a packed lunch or give the student money to put on the card. Lunch (3 courses) will be provided for the Irish students in the school canteen in St Dominique.
9. Are the host families vetted?
The Principal of St Dominique, M. Chapelain is closely involved in the exchange programme and only recommends the most suitable of families.
10. What about the French students? What level of English will they have?
The particular option taken by the French class is called ‘Parcours Anglais’. This is a prestigious class and places are sought after. The students work towards the First Certificate Cambridge exams in their final year. Students must undergo a selection process in order to secure their place and may be asked to leave the programme if they are not working sufficiently well. As part of their course, the French students undertake to do 2 exchanges: In ‘Seconde’ they go to Denmark and in ‘Première’ they come to Ireland. In ‘Terminale’ they sit their final exam.
11. How are the students matched up?
When our students fill in the application form, they are asked for information on their age, family and interests & hobbies. Please fill this form in as fully as possible in order to aid the pairing process.
The French Exchange Programme is a very unique learning opportunity to enhance your knowledge of a foreign language from someone your own age with similar interests. One of the difficulties that I’ve found learning French is understanding the language when spoken at such speed. Hearing it being spoken all day, every day around you aclimatises you to the speed and accents of the language.
Each of the exchange partners we were paired up with were all very patient and helpful in trying to teach us their language. Although learning the language is the primary motivation for taking part, it is also a very enjoyable experience. During our time in France, we went to the beach and shopped around Nantes city. They are very laid back in this department. We went to a different person’s house every night for dinner which was exceptional on each occasion.
Overall, a fun week with your friends in nice weather with plenty to do.
Last year I took part in the Newbridge College French Exchange Programme. Looking back on it now in 6th Year, it was very worth my while.
On arriving in Nantes you feel the heat compared to Ireland. You learn so much about the French culture during the exchange. You also pick up many helpful words and phrases that aren’t in any textbook.
I would highly recommend anyone to take part in the French exchange. It was certainly a massive highlight of my 5th Year and one which I’m so happy to have had the opportunity to experience.
My French exchange partner, Matthieu, was great fun and indeed this seemed to be the case with most partners. Matthieu’s family were very welcoming and I settled in almost immediately. I also found the students to be hospitable and patient with my abilities in French (or lack thereof) which allowed me to enjoy myself while improving. Personally I found my pronunciation improved profoundly even just by listening and repeating in my head. My only regret about the French exchange is that I didn’t do it in TY as well.
For those thinking of doing the French exchange, I would highly recommend doing so. It is a truly unforgettable experience and it really does improve your spoken French.It is up to you how much you glean from the trip but if you make an effort to converse with your correspondant, you will notice a great improvement... It is a little nerve wrecking in the beginning. My exchange partner was so helpful and his family were so welcoming...The school hours may be a little long but it is great fun and some of the classes are actually interesting.
Mr. Ger O’Sullivan at firstname.lastname@example.org