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French Exchange Program

Nada Marei

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Bonjour à tous! (Hi all!) Have you ever thought about taking a different language at school ? Well, French exchange program here at Leyden is a great program. Students benefit from it, learn its advantages, gain new experiences, learn another language, AND meet new students from other schools in other countries. Leyden students recently hosted students from France.

 

Math teacher Mr. Jerome Patt said, “I loved it! I like having anybody from any other country in my class. It was just fun for them to see what we do, and I get a chance to ask them how is it different than what they do. It was great!”

Patt has a unique perspective on exchanges, as he hosted a student from Denmark for an entire year. He said, “My kids liked it and enjoyed it!”

Senior Taylor Morioka, a French 4 HN (AP Language) student, was one of the hosts. “At first, it was kind of weird,” he explained. “Teachers weren’t really prepared for having an extra student in their class, especially when he only speaks French. It was difficult at the beginning, but as soon as we got the schedules down, and knew the classes, it got a lot easier. I think the exchange program is a great idea because it shows other kids from different parts of the world what an American school is like.”

Morioka also said the social part required an adjustment. “At first, it was [awkward]. It’s just pretty much a stranger following you around, so it was kind of awkward but as soon as I started to talk to my correspondent, and actually got to know about him, his life, and his family it kind of just grew a friendship. I learned a lot from this experience. I learned a lot about France, learned how to speak French better because it forced me to talk to him in French.”

Morioka is ready for more. “I am actually already registered for the France trip this year, and I am actually excited about it.” When he goes, he’ll stay with the student he hosted.

This was actually his second time hosting an exchange student from France. He also did it when he was a freshman, and he said it was kind of difficult for him because he was in French 1 at that time, and he barely spoke French so he had to learn and work his way through! He wanted to give next year’s exchange hosts this advice: “If you are planning to host, just study the language a lot, increase your comprehension, improve how you can speak it, and just be prepared to have someone follow you around every day of the week!”

Senior Paulina Cylwik also hosted and shared many of her classmate’s feelings. “Having a French kid in my classes was a little bit awkward because I didn’t think he would be interested in the stuff we’re learning, especially because of his limited English, and I wasn’t sure how he would act around my friends and how many friends would act around him, but he ended up having a few other French kids in all the classes we were in so I felt that he was not bored to death while we learned.”

She provided the following perspective about the exchange program overall.  “I think it’s a great idea. Not only did it help me with my French and the foreign exchange kids with their English, but I also got to learn a great deal about what French kids do in their own time. We got to learn a lot about their cultures and learned in the end that we’re very similar.” She also mentioned what she learned from this experience was, “I mostly learned about how French life differed from ours and that you can easily get comfortable with people.”

One of Paulina’s favorite moments was “going on a field trip downtown with the whole group because we went to Navy Pier and got to see a boat tour of the city. Another memorable moment was going downtown with some of the kids and their correspondents on their last night in Chicago. We had an amazing night view of the skyline from one of the downtown beaches and also shared some great conversations with them.”

Last but not least, Paulina had really nice advices and great words for next year’s exchange hosts. She said, “The only advice I could give to Leyden students is to spend as much time as they could with their French hosts because that last day is really hard to let them go. You want to look back at the experience as a time you will never forget because it’s not often you get to spend two weeks with amazing people like them!”  

 

That was pretty much it! I hope this article helped introduce a little bit of what great programs we have here at Leyden, what students can do with language classes that they take! And what opportunities and experience they will earn. Thank you 🙂

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Keeping watch over student news at East Leyden High School
French Exchange Program