School group enjoys French experience

A group of Mercy Regional College students headed to New Caledonia in the school holidays as part of their French language studies.

A GROUP of Mercy Regional College senior students have returned from their New Caledonian trip with memories and experiences they will never forget.

The group of 10 Year 9 to 11 French students took part in the weeklong trip to immerse themselves in the French language and New Caledonian culture during the recent school holidays.

French teacher Chamon Vogels said the trip allowed the students to use their French language skills in real settings and situations.

“There was a definite need for an immersion opportunity for our French students so they could live and breathe French culture and language,” she said.

“We knew there was some interest from students wanting to utilise and extend their French in an authentic context, so we were so pleased that we could offer this to students who were undertaking further French study at middle and senior school levels.”

Mrs Vogels restarted the school’s language program six years ago after a former language teacher retired.

Having studied French in secondary school, she had a keen interest in teaching the language and completed a French language tertiary qualification to bring back the language program to the school.

Mrs Vogels said the trip included a range of new experiences for the students, including attending a school and living with local host families in pairs.

Mercy Regional College students immersed themselves in the culture of New Caledonia during their trip, taking part in a variety of activities in the French territory.

“For the majority of students it was their first time on an international flight, so that was an experience in itself in applying for passports, changing money into Central Pacific Francs, and leaving the safety of Australian home soil,” she said.

“There simply is no better way in developing language skills further by experiencing daily life in a French speaking country.

“It’s an academically rigorous subject to study, so it is a great opportunity for our students to utilise and build on the French they have as well as be rewarded for their hard work in the downtime.”

Other highlights of the trip included a trip on the Tchou Tchou Train sightseeing trek to learn about the indigenous Kanak history, completing a grocery shopping expedition and swimming with sea turtles and tropical fish.

Mrs Vogels said incorporating trips such as the New Caledonian trip was an integral part of broadening the students’ horizons and highlighting the importance of learning another language.

“Language and culture is an important part of the school curriculum,” she said.

“It helps students understand how others live in the world and makes them more culturally aware.

“The cognitive benefits include improved memory, problem-solving and critical-thinking skills, enhanced concentration, ability to multitask and better listening skills.”

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