THE SKIER SCRIBBLER

Immersed in the French School System

Bella+Hoffman+and+fellow+AHS+students+Chloe+Bretman+and+Chamberlain+Peacock+spending+time+with+their+host+students+in+Nantes%2C+France.+
Bella Hoffman and fellow AHS students Chloe Bretman and Chamberlain Peacock spending time with their host students in Nantes, France.

Bella Hoffman and fellow AHS students Chloe Bretman and Chamberlain Peacock spending time with their host students in Nantes, France.

Bella Hoffman and fellow AHS students Chloe Bretman and Chamberlain Peacock spending time with their host students in Nantes, France.

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Over this past Thanksgiving break, a group of 13 students from AHS traveled to France on a school exchange program and visited many French schools. They visited Paris and each stayed with a host family in Nantes, which is about two hours outside of Paris. This was an opportunity to learn some French and be culturally immersed. The French school system is completely different than the students were used too. Laurent Joigen, an English teacher in the international department of the Lycée Nelson Mandela high school in France, has been a part of the French to English community for quite some time.

“I began to learn English when I was 12, which was in middle school. When I was 18, I left France for Ireland and lived there for a month or two. Then after that, I moved to England for a year and when I became fluent was around the age of 21,” Joigen said.

Joigen learned English the quickest when he was immersed in an English speaking country. English is a mandatory subject in most European countries, and the language programs are much more advanced than that of the U.S. Most French students have been learning English since elementary school.

“Three years ago, I began teaching at Lycée Nelson Mandela in Nantes. English is a compulsory subject here, which is not the case in the U.S. as far as French is concerned. Everybody has to learn English here, which means that somehow the students are more applied, and they know that they are expected to know English even after high school,” Joigen said.

In the French culture, English comprehension is expected. It is different in the United States because taking a language isn’t always mandatory. States like Arizona, Florida, Alaska, and Kentucky don’t require students to take a foreign language to graduate. In addition, the language requirements vary between district to district in Colorado. AHS is one of the few exceptions as taking a language is mandatory for at least three years.

Alex Reginelli, AHS language teacher, and the head of the Spanish department stated, “The language program [in France] is much different than ours because the schools are bigger. I have only observed the international program in both English and Spanish and the level is very high. A lot of these kids come from different areas and it seems to be very project based. They are all on that vocational track of other languages other than French.”

Most students in the French schools can speak and understand English to the point where they are almost fluent. At Lycée Nelson Mandela, the students have to take a second foreign language. The most popular third languages there are Spanish and German. Anaïs Schram, a student at Lycée Nelson Mandela, takes german as her third language. She believes that the French school system has a more advanced language program and the way the grades are situated differs from American schools.

“The grades are different in the United States than in France. Sophomores to seniors are in high school and freshman are still in middle school. Seconde, is sophomore year, premier is junior year, and terminal is senior year. We count down instead of going up like American schools. I think that it’s more professional and nice this way,” Schram said.

Not having freshman in the high school makes a huge difference on the maturity of the students. The students in seconde aren’t as mature as sophomores in the United States because they had the time to grow from freshman year. In some ways, the students in seconde act like freshman. Schram also states that the school days differ a lot depending on if it’s ‘Week A’ or ‘Week B’.

“Students start at different times and end at different times during the school day. I start at nine on Tuesdays and Fridays and finish at five on those days. The rest of the week I start at eight and finish at four. We don’t have a designated time each day, it changes often. Some students start at eight and finish at six.” Schram said.

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