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Une aventure culturelle et linguistique inoubliable pour nos élèves et une chance de s’immerser dans la vie quotidienne d’une famille française en Nouvelle-Calédonie!

During the first week of the September holidays, I had the privilege of accompanying 14 of our Years 9 - 11 students, together with Ms Lavigne and Ms Centelles, on the long-awaited French Culture and Language Study Tour to Noumea, New Caledonia.

This study tour offered an enriching language experience, combining French language acquisition and culture. During our stay, the students attended extended language classes and had the unique opportunity to stay with local homestay families. This provided a wonderful opportunity for the students to hone their language skills as well as experience the warmth, generosity and hospitality of the New Caledonian people firsthand. All of this was set against the beautiful and relaxing backdrop of the tropical island of New Caledonia. It created a perfect atmosphere for students to further develop their French language skills, and experience the unique and welcoming culture of this French island whilst connecting with their peers through shared experiences.

Each day of the tour was also filled with enriching cultural excursions, including visits to the bustling market of Noumea; savouring the exquisite French cuisine; exploring the Tjibaou Cultural Centre, the Noumea Museum and embarking on sightseeing adventures aboard the Tchou Tchou Train. Additionally, we participated in engaging activities such as a crepe-making workshop and dining at a 360-degree revolving restaurant with breathtaking views of Noumea.

Amidst this cultural exploration, we also enjoyed some well-deserved relaxation time in the Place Des Cocotiers, the beautiful central park in Noumea, as well as sun-soaked moments on the beach (in between a few days of cooling tropical showers!), leisurely shopping and indulging in delicious ice cream, French patisseries and baguettes.

The rich educational value of immersion and experiential learning in the acquisition of a second language is well documented and supported by educational research. Such experiences seek to enhance traditional classroom teaching methods by providing a holistic and effective approach to language development as well as providing learners with invaluable real-world exposure to the language, culture and people.

Immersive language exchanges and tours have been shown to offer several educational benefits for language learners:

  • Real-world language practice: immersive experiences provide learners with the opportunity to use their additional language in authentic, real-world situations. This practical application of language skills helps to reinforce what is learned in the classroom and improves fluency.
  • Cultural understanding: language is closely tied to culture, and immersive experiences allow learners to gain a deeper understanding of the culture associated with the language they are studying. This cultural insight is invaluable for effective communication and global competence.
  • Improved listening and speaking skills: immersion forces learners to listen to and speak the language daily. This intensive practice enhances both listening comprehension and speaking skills, leading to greater proficiency.
  • Vocabulary expansion: learners exposed to everyday situations in an immersive environment tend to acquire new vocabulary rapidly. This is because they encounter words and phrases in context, making them to understand and remember them.
  • Confidence building: immersive experiences can boost learners’ confidence in using the language when they see that they can effectively communicate in real-life situations.
  • Networking opportunities: language exchanges and tours often involve interaction with native speakers and fellow learner. This connection can lead to lasting friendships and valuable language exchange partnerships.
  • Cultural awareness: immersion experiences promote cultural sensitivity and awareness. Learners gain insights into cultural norms, etiquette and customs, which is essential for effective communication and building positive relationships.
  • Motivation: the prospect of an upcoming immersion experience or language tour can be a powerful motivator for language learners. It gives them a concrete goal to work towards, increasing their dedication to language study.
  • Global perspective: exposure to different cultures and languages broadens learners’ perspectives and makes them more open-minded and adaptable when interacting with people from diverse backgrounds.
  • Long-term retention: immersion experiences often result in better long-term retention of language skills, the memories and experiences associated with the language tend to stick in the learners’ minds aiding in long-lasting proficiency.

Finally, I would like to take the opportunity to extend a big thank you to Ms Lavigne and Ms Centelles for their dedication and commitment to organising such a rich and rewarding experience which was thoroughly enjoyed and deeply valued by all who attended!

Merci aux élèves et aux professeurs qui ont fait de ce voyage un vrai succès. J’espère que cette expérience vous a donné l’envie de visiter d’autres pays francophones à l’avenir.

“You don’t realise how useful everything you learn in class is. From something simple like fruits and vegetables to verb conjugations, it’s all really useful and interesting to apply in real life” - Connie

“It was like one giant listening and oral test. We were constantly listening out for words we knew and piecing them together. By the end of the week, it was much easier to understand everyone.” - Audrey

“I really loved the homestay portion of this trip; it was such a great experience to immerse ourselves in the lives of the people of New Caledonia. My highlight was going out for dinner with our host family and eating crepes on the last night. J’adoré Nouvelle Caledonie!” - Annabelle

“I am very grateful to have had this experience. New Caledonia is really beautiful and I really loved it there. I enjoyed exploring the city of Noumea, going to the cafes, beaches, markets and shops.” - Rachel

“One of my main highlights of the trip was the five-day homestay. It was cool to be immersed in French and the New Caledonian culture, language and food. Talking and understanding another language was difficult but it was definitely a challenge that I enjoyed.” - Evie

“I loved communicating with my homestay family and playing French board games with Evie and their 8 year old son” - Hanna

“My highlight was visiting the revolving restaurant and communicating in French with the waitresses. It was an incredible experience to be able to see the city of Noumea in a 360-degree view being all together and learning so much from the people around us. I will never forget this experience!” - Jennifer

 “The people we met and the connections that we made will be something that I will forever hold close to my heart.” - Giovanna

“I really enjoyed spending time with my homestay family. The older sister, Lisa, would always pick us up and take us to the language school each day and one time she took us 4WD to the most beautiful parts of New Caledonia” - Alexandria

“I am grateful to have experienced this incredible opportunity. The connections and memories made will be forever cherished.” - Yianni

 “Our host family took us to the Theatre to watch a play. The acting and singing were so beautiful and I’m so glad to have witnessed a glimpse of New Caledonian culture in this way.” - Kayla

“My highlight was spending time with my host and her grandchildren. I loved talking French to Les enfants and learning about life in New Caledonia. I will forever cherish this experience!” - Allie

“It was a very beneficial experience being immersed in French culture and being constantly exposed to the language. I feel like my French has improved a lot and I loved having the opportunity to use what I know. Our homestay family was very kind and generous and made the trip exciting and interesting.” - Joanna

“My highlight of New Caledonia was definitely spending time with the amazing group of people on the trip and all the memories that we created throughout our stay.” - Phoebe