French Exchange, March 2007

L’Institution Sainte Marie in Beaucamps Ligny ranks seventh in one of the equivalents of a French national “league table” for Bacculaureat success rate. Would Reigate Grammar School 4th year pupils be compatible with the pupils of their “European Class” of Séconde, which is closer to our 5th year in age? Heureusement – pas de problème!

The cancellation of all Eurostar journeys on the evening prior to departure for England did not daunt the group of 35 French pupils and their three teachers. They caught a ferry, and arrived at RGS only a few hours later than originally planned. Some of their “correspondants anglais” were a little taken aback by greetings with “bises” (kisses on the cheek) but they quickly welcomed their visitors and took them home for the rest of the weekend.

After their introduction and tour on Monday morning the French pupils adapted easily to the RGS timetable and were seen in History, Geography, English, RS and other subject lessons during the day. They commented on the formality of our church assembly and the uniform, but also on the friendly relationship between teachers and pupils, which contrasts with the more rigorous nature of their classes of 30+ pupils in France. Many listened to their partner’s performance in the Dorking Halls concert in the evening, which they found impressive.

On Tuesday the French pupils went on an excursion to Windsor, then they spent the next morning exploring Reigate prior to the return to France of all seventy participants and seven staff in the afternoon.

The time spent in France can be summed up by quotations from a questionnaire completed by RGS pupils at the end of the programme.


  Click here for some photos of the trip both in thumbnails and full size.      

· Going round Lille and taking pictures
· Shopping in Lille
· The class presentation on French food
· Maths lesson at the Lycée
· Lunch in the Lycée
· The party in “Le Foyer” at the Lycée on Friday night.
· Going bowling, going skiing at the snowdome, playing snooker etc - on Saturday
· Saying things in French that actually made sense
· Roller skating on Sunday morning

· The first meal – I didn’t realise the pasta was underneath the mince.
· I didn’t understand that my family were asking my dog’s name and I told them my sister’s.
· Trying to retell yesterday’s soap opera in French.
· I walked into the parents’ bedroom after going to get a drink in the middle of the night.
· I flooded the bathroom when the shower went out of control.
· Teaching the French how to speak with an English accent.
· When I broke the dining room chair.
· Lots of new friends.
· Some fantastic memories
· I have learned how to formulate full sentences in French and pronounce much better.
· I gained a cold, probably about 2 stone in weight, 2 strikes in bowling, and drank the best hot chocolate in the world
· I can speak more spontaneously and think while I talk
· Knowledge of day to day French life and politics
· I can understand what is being said in French
· I have gained confidence
· I have tried new food, such as oysters
· I discovered that there are not as many fit French boys as people say