16 students from H.J. Cody High School’s French Immersion Program left Wednesday morning on an exchange to St. Tite, Quebec for whatthe program’s co-ordinator called ‘the French learning experience of a lifetime’.
The students’ week long exchange sees them spending a day in Montreal where they will visit a number of historic locations as well asvarious government buildings before heading to St. Tite where they will meet their host families and spend the remaining time being fullysubmersed in Quebecois culture.
With many of the students’ host families not speaking English, french immersion teacher for H.J. Cody and exchange co-ordinator, KelseyWilson said the experience students will recieve during this exchange is a valuable one.
“This town is 100% Francophone – there are people there who speak English but it is not common to hear,” explained Wilson. “We will bethere and speaking French the entire time so the students will learn a great deal and have a great chance to practice their language skills,
“In return when the French students come here they will have a great chance to practice their English so it’s a great trade off.”
She added the experience may be the single best opportunity for her students to practice French and truly hone in on their skills. Sheexplained they will likely learn more in the one week trip than many students learn in three years of language classes.
During their time in St. Tite, which is located half way between Montreal and Quebec City, students will visit a number of cultural locationsincluding a stunning Cathedral just outside of the town as well as experience some of the ‘cowboy culture’ the town is known for. Inaddition they will also visit a waterfall the area is known for and spend a day in classes at the local high school.
As part of the exchange St. Tite students will visit Sylvan Lake in April for a week where they will stay with local families. During their time inAlberta they will have the chance to take in a Calgary Flames game, West Edmonton Mall, Drumheller, and Banff.
Wilson added many of her students are excited to visit these locations also as many of them have never had the opportunity to visit them.
She explained this particular exchange is unique in that students participating do not have to pay for their flights or any transportation toand from the airport as it is funded by a Government of Canada exchange program called Sevec. This unique funding opportunity aims toincrease knowledge and understanding of Canada among Canadian youth by enabling them to learn firsthand the history, geography,industry, institutions, cultures and languages of other communities in the country. Wilson explained only about half of the schools whoapply for the program are accepted, adding they were very fortunate to have been chosen.
Wilson has been with H.J. Cody for five years now and joined the French Immersion department three years ago allowing her to see first handthe immense benefits of learning other languages.
“In Europe it is rare to find some one who only speaks one or two languages,” said Wilson on the importance of students learning otherlanguages. “Europeans usually start out with 3 or 4 and go from there – but what’s interesting is my students study both French and Spanishthey have a huge advantage over other students studying only one or the other because the two languages are so related.
“Learning other languages is a lifelong skill and so important in our increasingly culturally diverse world.”