Year 12 French Montpellier Trip Report
In June, our Year 12 French class went to Montpellier, in the south of France, on a study visit, with the A level French students from Simon Langton Boys’ School. They stayed with French host families, attended an intensive French course in the morning, with a varied programme of cultural visits and activities in the afternoon. Below are some of their impressions of the trip.
The excursions - By Charli Young
Each day we had excursions to different places around Montpellier, this was arguably our favourite part of the trip. On the first day we explored the beautiful city of Montpellier, enjoying a range of French cafes and shops in our spare time as well as exploring and learning about the historical sites by doing a questionnaire in groups. This I found the most beneficial to my French as we had to often had to ask locals for help in order to answer the question. On the second day we took a tram to Montpellier beach and enjoyed the white sands and warm waves of the Mediterranean Sea, as well as discovering the small seaside town that surrounded it. Although this was a very relaxing day, we managed to practice our French by playing a game of volleyball with another school group. The third day we took a trip to the historical village of Aigues-Mort to learn about the role it played in the crusades and to learn about the pink salt lakes that surrounded the village. Later that day we took a short trip to the beautiful beach near Aigues-Mort before returning back to our host families. On the last day we visited the zoo near Montpellier, enjoying a safari like experience due to the hot weather. After leaving the zoo we went to watch a film at the main cinema in Montpellier, which was challenging due to there being no subtitles but afterwards I felt more in tune with the French language. Overall the excursions really benefitted me as I was able to practice my French in different areas as well as having fun with my friends, learning about Montpellier and relaxing.
Host Family - By Ben Rowe
During the visit, we spent the evenings with a host family (arranged by the language school). On the first night, we were collected by them from the Arrivals gate and gave us a short drive into Montpellier, which allowed us to get a glimpse and feel of the city before having a chance to explore it. In order to get our bearings, we were given directions into the language school on the first day, which was only a short walk from the apartment.
In the evenings, the host family provided us with a range of meals, such as Spanish Omelette, roast pork and Bolognese. During the meal and the rest of the evening, we would talk to our host family about our excursions, as well as more general topics of conversation, such as our education system, life in France and the inevitable Brexit. These conversations really improved our confidence in spoken French and taught us a lot of new vocabulary. Surprisingly, we did not find conversing with native speakers particularly challenging, as many of them were very patient with us as we tried to ask for things, order in a restaurant or buy a tram ticket.
The apartment that we stayed in was very clean and modern, with a chic design and many artistic influences in each room. It was spacious, with big windows that looked out over Montpellier’s avenues. Notably, we became particularly fond of the little dog, Mitsu, that was always about to have a fuss made out of. Over the course of the week, we became very close to our host family, so much so, that we decided to take our hostess out for dinner on our final evening. This turned out to be helpful for us, too, as our host family knew all of the best restaurants in the city – meaning that our last night turned out to be very enjoyable.
By Harri Allison
The hostess we stayed with was absolutely amazing, she didn’t hesitate at all in providing anything we needed from a map of the local hidden gems to a coffee in the morning. She made it worth returning in the evenings, the meals she cooked were amazing and not too far from those we’d normally eat but still with a French twist. Discussing the city at the dinner table was interesting and I believe really helped me with my French conversations and just generally speaking to our hostess I found really interesting, just seeing how French life differs from ours in England. For me, the accommodation was the biggest worry, I wasn’t sure at all about the food or how the housing would be, but, of course it was nothing to worry about as it all turned out to be perfect. The location of the housing made it quite central and easy to get to many places, this meant we wasted no time when exploring every corner of Montpellier and could stay out late without worrying about travelling back! The overall experience of the trip made great memories, but the hostess really made it unforgettable and definitely improved my French!
Lessons in Montpellier - By Holly Bean
Every morning during our stay in Montpellier, we had a French lesson at the ‘Institut linguistique du Peyrou’ (iLP) language school from 9am to 12am. These lessons were taught by the same teacher for the whole week, who was extremely friendly and keen for us to practice our French oral skills. The class only contained students from our school, and the students from Simon Langton Grammar School for Boys who were on the trip with us, which created a community feel among us, and made everyone feel as if they could openly share their opinions. During the lessons, we covered a wide and interesting range of topics, from artificial intelligence, to the effects and messages of contemporary French music videos. We also participated in some thought-provoking debates, such as whether all secondary schools should be mixed, or whether having single sex schools is more beneficial to the students’ learning. The lessons were also helpful for our learning of French culture and history, as the new information that we had learnt while out on excursions, such as to Aigues-Mortes, was reinforced by summarizing and feeding back our findings to our teacher, Marie-Laure.