St. Martin’s students and faculty recently opened their doors to students from Lycée Beaumont in Rendon, France. Twenty-eight French students made their way to Louisiana, all ready for new experiences.
The exchange, which was coordinated by Upper School French teacher Cissy Rowley and Middle and Upper School French teacher Mary Kay Beck, was a partnership with Lycée Beaumont and Haynes Academy.
Ten St. Martin’s students hosted French students in their homes during the exchange. All students in French I-V hosted a student at school for two days. French students attended classes with their StM student hosts.
Rowley was pleased to see how involved the entire Upper School was in the exchange.
“Teachers were speaking French and adapting their lessons so the French kids could give their perspective,” said Rowley. “All of the students wanted to meet and talk to our visitors. I even had Spanish students join my French classes because they wanted to see what we were doing! It was really amazing to see the community and enthusiasm.”
As part of their visit to St. Martin’s, the French students joined several French language classes, completed a design thinking activity in The Gibbs Family Center for Innovation + Design, and handmade souvenirs in the woodshop. Additionally, French students and their American hosts toured the French Quarter and watched a French language film at the Prytania Theater.
The exchange gave StM students an opportunity to practice and test their French speaking skills in an authentic setting.
“The goal in St. Martin’s language classes is proficiency,” said Rowley. “We work toward students learning how to communicate and operate in another language. The exchange allowed the students to do just that with French teenagers. They were motivated to use their French as much as possible.”
The exchange concluded with a farewell dinner hosted by St. Martin’s. Students and host families from both schools were invited for an evening of presentations and fellowship before saying “Adieu” to the visitors. The evening featured several performances by students from Lycée Beaumont and Haynes Academy, speeches, a parade, and a dance party to end the evening.
“It was wonderful for our students to meet students who actually speak the language they are studying, and to see that what they are learning in class has real-world application,” said Beck.
The exchange is just one aspect of St. Martin’s comprehensive world languages program. French language classes participate regularly in cultural events, such as Alliance Française of New Orleans. Rowley and Beck are also planning a two-week linguistic exchange in France for students in spring 2018.