A French Girl’s point of view
By Justine Kupczyk
I am a 2nd year post high school graduate who is 19 years old and lives in the Picardie area.
I have studied English since the beginning of my high school years.
Currently I am doing a 2 month internship for my studies at the CCI OISE. A main part of my internship is that I have to work on internal tasks and also on international tasks.
What techniques are used for learning English in French schools?
In France, English classes mainly involve grammar and written activities. For instance we spend too much time learning only vocabulary and grammar. An example is that currently I am studying sales and we spend most of our time on vocabulary. Understanding the English language is done mainly via videos and audio recordings. French students have a lot more difficulty with oral languages because most of the lessons focus mainly on written activities.
Some students are lucky enough to have a trip overseas to learn English. Personally I never had this opportunity.
International Language Assistants
Often English teachers in schools are French people. Sometimes there are English assistants from America, Australia or England … who come to teach English, but not often enough. The advantage of the classes with English assistants is that we get to work in smaller groups, for instance only 5 people. The disadvantage is that we only get to participate in the English class with the assistant once a month because they have to be shared around all of the classes and other schools in the area.
Practice makes perfect
Some of my main memories of English classes in High School involve my teacher making us recite our lessons, one by one, at the beginning of the English class. Unfortunately practicing English once a month doesn’t really help someone to learn to speak a language or with helping to improve the motivation to learn any language.
I personally think that to help students improve their oral skills and their motivation that French teachers should increase oral participation in class with more oral activities. Some of these could involve role plays for example. For a one hour lesson with a class of 30 people, I think that role-plays in pairs or small groups would be helpful. I would also like teachers to organize more activities on the board in front of the class.
I think that we need to reduce the number of students in language classes… This of course is a dream, because everyone knows that in France class sizes will always be too big.
A last point that could help improve language learning, and more specifically English learning, is that the school could organize more trips abroad, for example to England because French people have easy access to travel.