‘Voilà, je parle français’
No child wants to spend their holidays in a classroom, which is why the programmes are based on fun and free time,’ explains Lydia Kreyer, founder of Edulingo. She has been ad-vising on and arranging language holidays for the past ten years. ‘The children learn the target language by immersion and, by speaking it actively in the country concerned, gain a better feel for it and use it in a more intuitive manner,’ says Kreyer, talking about the immersion language trips.
In programmes like these, the language is taught by means of fun lessons – as 14-year-old Leonie can confirm. She attended the French camp Le Noell. ‘At school, there is lots of theory, but we never really get to speak the language,’ points out the year 9 student. She has been learning French as her third foreign language for the past four years. The Le Noell camp is situated in southern France, where the crickets chirrup, the smell of pine hangs in the air and mighty olive trees grow – in other words, a much more pleasant setting in which to learn French. Follow-ing a placement test on the first day, the students are divided into groups according to their level of proficiency. ‘Each group com-prises a maximum of eight students and is taught by a French na¬tive speaker,’ explains Kreyer. The lessons are often held outside. ‘In the afternoons, the children go on trips to local places and are set small challenges. For example, they might be asked to visit the market and speak to the stallholders or passers-by to en-quire about certain items,’ says Kreyer. What’s more, canyoning and kayaking are also part of the programme, with the trip or-ganised by FIL–Français, Immersion, Loisirs. As the name sug-gests, the students absorb the language using the immersion method, with the trip lasting at least ten days. The camp is at-tended by some 50 children from many different countries. Not only do the children come into direct contact with the French language and culture, but they also meet peers from the UK, Russia, Spain and France. ‘German students only make up a small minority of those in the camp. I don’t believe in German group language trips on which the children mostly speak German in their free time,’ says Kreyer. On these kinds of trips, the students not only fail to immerse themselves in the language, but also miss out on the local culture. Leonie has particularly strong mem ories of the French cuisine. ‘The French have a strong dining culture. I found it interesting that they always drank their tea or coffee out of muesli bowls at breakfast,’ says the 14-year-old. She enjoyed the trip so much that she would like to do two ten-day sessions back to back next year.
A TEMPORARY FAMILY
13-year-old Tim is in year 8. He has been learning French at school for the past 18 months. Just like Leonie, he wants to actively use and improve his French. An alternative to a group trip is the host family/private teacher programme. The idea is sim¬ple: a student lives with a host family abroad for a certain period and receives immersion language tuition from one of their host parents. In April, Tim flew to Nice in order to spend a week with a French host family. ‘I was welcomed into the family like a third child and I was fully looked after,’ says the 13-year-old. His host dad was also his language tutor. ‘At the beginning, it was pretty tricky to understand what the guest family was saying to each other. I had to get used to it,’ explains Tim. He had booked a total of ten lessons with his host dad – all of which were immersive. ‘My guest dad couldn’t speak any German, so he pointed to things or mimed out words whenever I didn’t understand,’ he says. The private tutors in the families are all qualified teachers. ‘All the teachers hold a recognised teaching certificate, a university degree or other equivalent qualification,’ explains Kreyer. In Tim’s case, the host dad is a retired engineer who likes teaching French in his spare time and who completed an additional training course in this area. Whether a student wishes to pre-pare for a language exam, is planning a year abroad or just wants to learn another language for fun, everyone has different wants and needs when it comes to the host family and the programme as a whole. The organisation HLI – Home Language International – therefore offers a portfolio from which students can choose their own host families. ‘What’s great about this one-on-one tutoring programme is that the tutor can tailor their lessons to the student and their goals. The lessons are very much made to measure,’ says Kreyer. During his week in Provence, Tim also went on excursions with the family and explored the French Riviera. ‘My host parents had so much knowledge of the region that we could give the big tourist traps a wide berth and take in idyllic places in-stead,’ remembers the 13-year-old. Now that Tim’s little brother has heard so much about the experience, he also wants to visit the host family in southern France next year. Regardless of whether English, French or Spanish – or whether in Europe, America or Asia – a language course abroad is always an ex citing adventure. But language trips are not just aimed at children who have already come into contact with the language. ‘The language courses can be adapted to the needs of everyone, from absolute beginners to virtual experts, especially when they are based on the immersion method,’ points out Kreyer.
In order to guide customers through the confusing world of language holidays, Lydia Kreyer set up her Edulingo travel agency in 2013. Edulingo advises potential customers on various kinds of language trips and acts as an intermediary between travel agencies and language schools. The international trips are aimed at children aged seven and older. For more information, please visit www.edulingo.de.