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Making cross-Channel friends

Posted onPosted on 4th Apr

A Shirebrook school’s first-ever exchange visit from French students was hailed a success after they spent a week of sight-seeing, language learning and forging close friendships with their UK counterparts.

Eleven 13 and 14-year-olds from Toulon spent the week living with a group of language students at Shirebrook Academy.

The trip was part of the academy’s first-ever cultural exchange, which will see 10 students from the school travel to Toulon in May.

It was designed to support the school’s modern languages curriculum as well as widen the students’ horizons and give them life-enriching experiences, which included having a French teenager stay with them and their families for the duration of the five-day visit.

There were trips to Chatsworth House, Bolsover Castle and Alton Towers, as well as time spent in the academy.

Among the students who took part in the trip was Joshua Browne, 14, who opened up his house to French student Clovis, 13, for the week.

He said: “We became good friends during the week and he was almost a member of the family by the end.

“We had a few misunderstandings with language but he helped me to understand the correct French pronunciation and how to speak it properly.”

James Edwards, head of modern foreign languages at Shirebrook Academy, said: “There were plenty of high points during the week but as strange as it sounds, the biggest single sign of success were the tears that were shed when the French students had to say goodbye.

“It’s only a minority of state schools who run foreign exchange visits. There was a tremendous amount of hard work needed to get our exchange off the ground, but we’re thrilled at how well it went.

“Our students have learned about another culture and it’s really improved their French, so we’re very much looking forward to travelling to Toulon and have already been asked if we’re going to organise another French exchange next year.”