Widely recognised as a most effective way of developing communication skills, language immersion is key to instilling a love of learning, while enhancing cultural awareness and tolerance. These skills are not only critical for success within globalised business, but are a key element of the School’s drive to develop responsible and well-rounded global citizens. 

We are very much looking forward to hosting our friends from Zaragoza during the weeks leading up to Christmas; however, this year’s exchange programme was kicked off during October half term when a bunch of brave Year 10 pupils successfully completed our first ‘away’ trip to Collège Elisée Mousnier in Cognac.  Teacher Fran Rodriguez takes up the story…

“The nervousness increased as we approached Cognac in our bus.  We were excited and intrigued by the prospect of a week living with our host French families. However, it did not take long for even the most nervous among us to settle in.  The families were without exception welcoming, friendly and hugely generous, and the French pupils were all genuinely excited to meet their English counterparts.  Warminster pupils made many more friends than just their immediate exchange partner.

Throughout the visit, our pupils were fully integrated into French school life and attended all lessons with their French counterparts. It was interesting to compare respective approaches to schooling.  One Warminster pupil rushed up to me on the second day to tell me “I’ve just had the best science lesson ever!” two others told us that their teacher in one lesson was so fierce and strict that no-one dared make any sound unless specifically told to do so.

The teachers in the French school had worked very hard to prepare many exciting activities and excursions for us.  The value of these activities was magnified yet further by the enthusiasm of our paired school to maximise opportunities for joint participation.  The resulting level of integration that this enabled, not only enhanced collaborative working, but really captured the ethos of immersion.

Warminster also helped our French friends to understand some aspects of our culture.  Following a brief introduction to British crisps and sweets, our friends were presented the opportunity of sampling Marmite (which we had told them was a bit like chocolate spread).  The photographs of that ‘Marmite Moment’ are particularly memorable!

Mr Prescott and I are unanimous in our praise of every Warminster pupil who took part; they all rose to the challenge with enthusiasm and an impressive “have a go” attitude.  None of them found the French language element easy, but as they embodied the “Warminster spirit” they ended up getting a huge amount out of the trip, both linguistically and in many other ways.  We were proud to be their teachers.”  

Head of Department, Nicola Rogers was delighted with the outcome of the programme “When I was at school, my Spanish exchange really consolidated my love of languages. It gave me an opportunity to really embrace Spanish language and culture, living with my Spanish pen-friend and her family. When I became a Languages teacher I was eager to encourage my pupils to become involved in such a programme – I personally believe that the linguistic and cultural values cannot be overestimated.”

Vive la French Exchange!