French class communicates with students in France


Lauren Beh

Using email instead of pen and paper, BSM students taking French get to carry their French experience outside the classroom with pen pals. Some have gone beyond the assigned work and became friends with their pen pals on social media like Facebook.

Pen pals may sound like a thing of the past, but the Internet has allowed for students in different countries to connect with each other in many ways. Recently, BSM’s French 1 and French 2 classes have been corresponding via email with students studying English in Nantes, a city in northwest France. Through this system, BSM students compare their culture with that of the students in Nantes by talking about school, classes, family life, and holidays.

Each BSM student is paired with one in France, and they write to each other each month throughout the school year. The typed letters get emailed to the teacher in France, who then distributes them to the students. Writing to pen pals provides the opportunity to break down classroom walls, and is a great learning experience for students studying another culture. “I’ve been doing this for a few years and it [gives] the application and the use of French a real context that motivates kids. That’s why I do [this project],” French teacher Mrs. Amy Jo Hyde said.

In addition to this project, BSM students will host nine students from Versailles, France in February. These French students, who are studying English, will attend school at BSM for four days and stay with nine eighth grade host families.

Last year, BSM high school students taking French traveled to France over Spring break, which involved a similar opportunity of staying with a French family and attending school for a few days. The France trip happens every other year, and the next trip will take place in March 2018. Studying abroad is a unique educational experience that stays with students for their entire life. Students experience a brand new country with completely new customs, activities, and landscapes.

The students from France will travel with the company Vistas and Education, which works with schools in the U.S. to set up eld trips during the French students’ visits. The students from France will go on day trips to the Science Museum and Mall of America during their stay, as well as attend the Junior High’s Buck Hill ski trip with their host student. “The idea is to just treat them like any visitor here… they are here to learn English and see what school is like,” Hyde said.