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French exchange going strong in second year

Students anticipate rich cultural learning experience

May 15, 2015 — 

In 2012-2013 the University of Manitoba, Faculty of Education and the Institut de formation des maîtres, Val de Loire, Université d’Orléans, in France intitiated a memorandum of understanding between the two universities for a one-month exchange practicum for undergraduate Education students at the University of Manitoba.

In 2013, the universities were able to send four teacher candidates to observe, study and teach in French elementary schools, while being hosted by French families. The exchange was truly beneficial : our Canadian students returned with linguistic confidence and a deeper appreciation of French culture and the European education system. Three of the four students are now teaching in the French Immersion system while the fourth has undertaken a Master’s degree in Comparative Education at Concordia University in Montreal.

This year, 2014-2015, David Mandzuk, dean of the Faculty of Education and Jerome Cranston, associate dean of undergraduate programs, approved a renewal of the exchange, headed by professor Krystyna Baranowski. Four UM students, will teach in both English and French from May 11-June 6 and attend weekly classes at the Université d’Orléans’ Faculty of Education, as well as participate in cultural activities . Given the current shortage of qualified French immersion teachers in Manitoba, this exchange program is vital in that it provides UM Education undergraduates with a chance to build linguistic and intercultural confidence. All the participating teacher candidates have undergone the oral and written language competency test at the Université de St-Boniface and have studied with Baranowski.

Here is a Q and A with some of this year’s participants :

Thomas Dunford

Thomas Dunford

Thomas Dunford. Photo by Cathrine Donato.

Why did you want to participate in the Orleans experience?

Well, as an Anglophone I feel as though I will be working for the rest of my life to improve my second language proficiency. Since joining The Faculty of Education I feel compelled to take any French immersion opportunities that come my way. As they say, if you don’t use it, you lose it!

Where will you be teaching? Ages/subjects, etc.?

As per my major I will be teaching English in Orléans, France with Mme Marie-Cécile Sainson (there’s an authentic French name if I’ve ever heard one.) This will be my first go at teaching elementary students, aged nine and ten, so here’s hoping that all goes well!

What do you anticipate will be different in the classroom in France? What do you anticipate will be some similarities?

I think a list of similarities might be shorter than the list of differences! As part of my practicum at Winnipeg’s Technical Vocational High School I’ve had the chance to help pioneer the new basic French programme newly made available to students there. Most of our course revolves around social games, art, and conversational activities to help new learners practise their newly acquired additional language. In France, I’ve heard that their classrooms are more traditionally organized with well-disciplined students in row upon orderly row facing towards the teacher. I can only imagine the teacher-student dynamic to be entirely different!

What other activities do you hope to do while in France besides teaching?

Seeing as I’m paying for the plane ticket across the pond I decided to stretch my journey beyond France’s borders. I’ll be landing in Germany a couple weeks early, moving my way through Austria, Switzerland, and the tiny Liechtenstein before finding my way to Orléans. After that I’ll be slowly moving towards Barcelona before catching my flight back home. My mother is worried sick but I couldn’t be happier traveling on my own!

What will you bring home from this experience that you can use in the classroom in Canada?

If my practicum experience here in Winnipeg is any indication then I’ll likely learn more from the invaluable classroom time spent with students than any preparatory university courses. I’m most interested in seeing how the philosophical and cultural differences between France and Canada will express themselves in the context of public education. I hope to bring this experience back with me to help integrate French cultural pluralism in the English dominated schools found in most parts of Canada today.

Brittney Kosowan

Cathrine Donato

Brittney Kosowan

Why did you want to participate in the Orleans experience?

I thought it would be a great experience on many different levels. It is a great way to improve my French, learn about another culture and how education works in their society, as well as get some experience teaching English as an additional language to a younger group of students. It sounded like an incredible learning experience and I wanted to be a part of it.

Where will you be teaching? Ages/subjects, etc.?

I will be teaching students ages eight and nine English and as well as a bit about Canadian culture at École élémentaire Louis Guilloux in Orleans France.

What do you anticipate will be different in the classroom in France? What do you anticipate will be some similarities?

I am definitely anticipating some differences when it comes to the use of technology in the classroom as well as the classroom atmosphere. Here we try to incorporate technology as much as we can and I have been warned that it is not the case over there. I am also anticipating that the classroom will be a little stricter than the ones we find here. Some similarities that I am anticipating would be that the school is its own little community and that the students there are eager and excited to learn.

What other activities do you hope to do while in France besides teaching?

Besides teaching, I would love to see as much of France as possible and really get a feel for their culture.

What will you bring home from this experience that you can use in the classroom in Canada?

I hope to bring home some different teaching approaches that I could use with my future students when it comes to learning an additional language. I also think that just having an insight to a different educational system is a great opportunity to see how things are done in other places and see if they can be incorporated into our own classrooms.

 

Veronica Rondeau

Veronica Rondeau

Veronica Rondeau

Why did you want to participate in the Orleans experience?

I wanted to participate in the Orleans experience to teach in another country to learn new ideas and different points of view. Living in France will also provide me with the opportunity to practice speaking in French on a daily basis in social situations and professional interactions.

Where will you be teaching? Ages/subjects, etc.?

École élémentaire du VAL, Orleans, France. Students will be ages nine to 11. I hope to teach lessons in many subjects, including in French.

What do you anticipate will be different in the classroom in France? What do you anticipate will be some similarities?

I anticipate classrooms being more teacher-centered, rather than student-centered based on others’ experiences who either taught in France, or used to attend school in France. I anticipate some similarities to French Immersion programs in Canada–that students need to be encouraged to speak in their second language in the classroom and with peers.

What other activities do you hope to do while in France besides teaching?

I hope to take part in various cultural tours.

What will you bring home from this experience that you can use in the classroom in Canada?

I hope to learn teaching strategies and various methods used to encourage students who are learning a second language. Having a positive experience will help me encourage students to continue learning French and recognize the opportunities available to them by being bilingual.

Gabrielle Wiebe

Why did you want to participate in the Orleans experience?

As soon as there started to be talk about a possible exchange program to France, I was interested.  Several of my educational experiences in the past have been on exchanges and in home stay families, mostly in language learning contexts.  I knew that an opportunity to live in France and to gain another month of practice teaching would be beneficial for my upcoming career.

Gabrielle Wiebe

Gabrielle Wiebe. Photo by Olivia Wiebe.

Where will you be teaching? Ages/subjects, etc.?

I will be teaching at École élémentaire du VAL in a CM2 class with students who are ten and eleven years old.  My cooperating teacher Mme Florence Bidault tells me that they are very serious students and work hard.  I will be teaching English, including units on houses/homes and school.  I will also be teaching about Canada in French.
 
What do you anticipate will be different in the classroom in France? What do you anticipate will be some similarities?

From what I have heard, I anticipate that classroom cultures will be different from here in Manitoba, with a more traditional classroom structure such as desks facing the front, and not as much access to technology as teaching tools.  Just like here, I anticipate that some students will be excited to learn while others will need more encouragement.

What other activities do you hope to do while in France besides teaching?

While I am in France, I am hoping to explore the region and gain a sense of what it is like to live in Orléans.  My main goal is to drink in daily life and become more comfortable living my life in French.  I have a bachelor of music and have been informed that I will be staying with a musician, so I am excited to get a taste of the music scene in the area as well.

What will you bring home from this experience that you can use in the classroom in Canada?
 
I have been hired to teach in French immersion middle schools starting in September, but both my practica during the B.Ed were in high schools, so I look forward to gaining more formal school experience with students in their pre-teens.  From this experience, I look forward to bringing home more comfort and fluency in my French speaking.  This will help me focus on building relationships and communicating content to my students in September, without having to concentrate on the language aspect of teaching in French.

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