In 2014 the French department established a link with Lycee Frederic Bazille in Montpellier, providing our GCSE and A Level students with an opportunity to develop and enhance their linguistic skills, by interacting with native speakers. AS Level student Joseph Murphy provides us with a first-hand insight into this year’s two day cultural exchange, which saw thirty French students visit The Blue Coat School. Highlights included a topical classroom debate on populism which tested and stretched Joseph’s translation skills, and a group tour of Liverpool delivered in French by Joseph and his classmates.
“On the 24th and 25th January the French department offered a warm welcome to 30 students from Montpellier, in the south of France, for a taste of life at The Blue Coat School and the wider city of Liverpool. Our Year 12 French class of eight students hosted the trip, with other students who don’t study French gladly helping and offering to partner up with the French students for the two days.
On the morning of the 24th, we waited excitedly to greet the first cohort of 15 French students who would be staying with us over the course of the day. Upon their arrival, each French student was paired up with a Blue Coat student and we all went up to the Sixth Form Common Room to find out a bit more about each other, such as our interests, hobbies and what subjects we study.
The students participated in our French lesson that morning as we took turns going round the class to play Snakes & Ladders, which provided an ample opportunity for us to hone our language skills and gain confidence in conversing with native speakers. Laughs were shared as through this cultural exchange we were able to gain an insight into the quirks and trials and tribulations of French teenage life and how this compared to our lives.
For lunch, the students were treated to a modest, yet quintessentially British Tesco meal deal, which was followed by a small party back at school where we were able to listen to some authentic French music, which is a topic that we study as part of the AS course.
After school had finished we became the ambassadors for the school as we took the students to the Anglican Cathedral by bus, providing them with a delightful experience of a bus journey filled with an almost jungle-like atmosphere created by younger students from nearby schools. After having taken a short detour through St. James’ Park to the Cathedral, the students were able to experience the grandeur of the cathedral for themselves and this was followed up by a short tour of the city, provided by us and in French of course. The students particularly enjoyed the Bohemian ambiance of Bold Street and after a few stop offs in some shops we met up with Mrs Jackson and Mrs Coltart for a delightful and delicious standard British fish & chips in the Lobster Pot. A new experience for many of the French students; they gave glowing reviews for the English delicacy and after meeting the whole cohort of French students, we were able to talk to those who would be visiting us the subsequent day.
The following morning was very much similar to that of the day before as we familiarised ourselves with our new French counterparts. However, instead of Snakes & Ladders in our French lesson, the students were treated to a talk on the history of the school from Mr Caulkin MBE, which was followed by tours of the school by the students.
With the current volatile political climate, the students were given the chance to partake in a Government & Politics lesson in which we discussed the rise of populism both in the UK and in France with the increasing popularity of Far Right candidate Marine Le Pen. As the only French student in the room, I had to muster all the translating skills that I had from within in order to effectively communicate the ideas and opinions of both the Blue Coat and Montpellier students, which provided for a rather interesting, yet incredibly exhausting discussion.
For lunch, the students had the choice to either join in a basketball training session and dine in the school canteen or go out for a chat over coffee at Costa, where we able to talk to the students in French about their experiences of Liverpool so far. Despite having known them for such a short time, we were all saddened having to say goodbye to the students, yet contact details and social media accounts were exchanged so that we can keep in touch in the future. Overall, this short but sweet exchange provided us with an invaluable opportunity for our French class to greatly develop both our language skills and cultural appreciation and understanding whilst simultaneously allowing us to stand in as ambassadors for the school.”
Joseph Murphy, Year 12