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First Year French trip boosts linguistic skills

Pupils outside the château they stayed at during the First Year trip to France

Towards the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, First Year pupils crossed the Channel to enjoy a few days in France where they worked on their language skills and found out more about the country and its people.

After disembarking the ferry and boarding their coach, the group reached their home for the trip, the Château d’Ebblinghem. A few hours of free time ensued before the pupils went to bed to rest their heads after a long day of travelling.

The first activity of the next day was a trip to the bakery. With the help of a very enthusiastic boulangerie chef, the girls and boys practised the French words for bread ingredients. They were then shown where the bread was baked and had a go at kneading the dough before making their own croissants, which they were allowed to eat at the end!

Next up was a visit to a snail farm. A few of the travellers were a bit nervous about encountering the animals but the snail farmer eased their worries as he showed them the different types of snails and spoke about the strict diet which ensures they are clean to eat.

Those that were keen were then given the chance to eat three different flavours of snail – Berry Special, Cheese, and Garlic Butter. Pupil Martha Frew tried them all and noted: “They had the texture of mushroom and the taste of chicken. I liked the garlic butter one best – apparently this is the most popular flavour.”

A competitive table-tennis tournament entertained the pupils in the evening before they headed to bed to get a good night’s sleep before the following day’s activities.

A delicious breakfast of croissants, pain au chocolate and baguettes which were dipped in hot chocolate ensured that the linguists were ready for the day ahead.

Armed with sandwiches for lunch, the pupils boarded the coach and headed to a coastal town where they interviewed unsuspecting locals. It was a great opportunity for the girls and boys to put their French language skills into action and the friendly locals were more than happy to let them practice.

The reward for their hard work was crêpes and ice cream on the beach and the group continued the culinary theme with a visit to a biscuit factory. Martha commented: “It was amazing seeing behind the scenes of how they make the most delicious, crumbly, sugary biscuits. We made the most of the sample tasting!”

The pupils then headed to Nausicaá Centre National de la Mer, the largest public aquarium in Europe. Martha declared it as the “coolest aquarium I have ever seen” with its sharks, jellyfish, crocodiles and seals.

After a few more hours on the beach in the sunshine, the group headed back to the château where they made their own crêpes and sat around a campfire, singing campfire songs and roasting marshmallows.

After dinner, it was time for a scavenger hunt where pupils had to find interesting items within the château grounds in order to win.

The final day of the trip saw the students visit a shopping centre where they used their language skills to translate the labels for different items that were on display.

Reflecting on the trip, pupil George Humphrey said: “I really enjoyed this trip because it was a great way of putting all of the skills we have learned in First Year French to the test, along with learning a lot about French culture. I would definitely recommend this trip to all future First Year pupils and I hope that you have an amazing time if you go.”

Head of Modern Foreign Languages Miss Sylvia Gibson said: “We managed to pack quite a lot into a short space of time and it was great to see the pupils throw themselves into everything.

“Talking to the local people – both in the streets and in their places of work – is an excellent way for the pupils to test their language skills and gain confidence. They really enjoyed the French food that was on offer and it was amazing to see them learn more about the way of life in France.”