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An immersive experience helps kids acquire language skills

Five students from France are visiting Woolwich Township as part of an exchange program that will send five local students from EDSS to France in February. Pictured are Augustin d’Artigues, Ben Fretz, Kasja Bowman, Adrienne DeCoux, Eglantine Mobille, Louisa Berrada, Cybille Choquet and Emily Milanovich. [Aneta Rebiszewski / The Observer]

Two months into their stay in the country, a group of students from France got to experience another cultural moment of sorts when Halloween rolled around last week. It was just the latest adventure for the five young people who in the late-summer packed their bags and hopped on a plane to Canada, where they prepared to improve their English-speaking skills while living with a host family in Woolwich Township.

As a part of the Canadian Education Exchange Foundation, five students – Louisa Berrada, Augustin d’Artigues, Cybille Choquet, Eglantine Mobille, and Adrienne DeCoux – have been paired up with five families in Elmira, where they’ve been attending EDSS for the past few months.

“I really wanted to come to Canada to see the country, meet people and to speak better English,” said Adrienne.

Much like Adrienne, many of the students are looking to improve their language skills, whether it’s the French students or the Canadian students who will find themselves in France at the beginning of February.

“Canada is a bilingual country, so I would like to have the ability to speak French and also I like to travel so I think it’d be really cool to see France,” said Ben Fretz  who grew up in St. Jacobs and will be travelling to France soon for his part of the exchange program.

Along with the thrill of being in a new country, there are many differences to deal with, said the French students who have been staying in Elmira and the surrounding communities.

“We don’t have horse and buggies, but it’s cool and interesting,” said Augustin.

There’s also a big difference in the school systems, in France the school days sometimes last until 6 p.m., explained Adrienne, and they even have all the same classes and students in each class unlike here in Canada.

When asking the French students what the Canadian students might be shocked by when they go to France, Louisa said, “I think they’re going to like the bread,” and the kids all laughed.

Most days the students are at school where they take several classes that they enjoy while being able to develop their language skills even further. But when they’re not at EDSS, the kids have had a chance to visit some places in Ontario with their host families.

 Ben and his family took the students to his cottage in Tobermory where they enjoyed the cold weather and the scenic views. Some of the exchange students got to go to places like Algonquin Park and even Toronto.

“When I was little, I went with my parents  to Canada and we visited Toronto, but I didn’t really remember it, so I got to go again. We saw the CN Tower, the aquarium and we walked around,” said Louisa.

With countless memories made here, the five students prepare to head back home to France where they will have a three-month break before they get to welcome their Canadian friends into their homes. The students that will be leaving EDSS and their homes in Woolwich Township to learn French and explore France will be Ben Fretz, Sydney Gregg, Emily Milanovich, Cameron Smith, and Kasja Bowman. Luckily they will arrive in France during a period where there are a lot of holidays which makes it the perfect opportunity for the Canadian students to explore France explains, Staf Paleshi, the French teacher at EDSS.

To prepare for their trip to France, the students have been practicing their French at school but they also watch French Netflix to brush up on their skills, says Ben, who notes he’s looking forward to travelling.

“Just getting to see France from an insider point of view will be very cool, and hopefully Augustin will show me a lot of destinations there.”

The students at EDSS will be leaving at the beginning of February to stay for a few months with their host families all over France.

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