This article is written by a French exchange student Sonya and her Finnish peer Heidi who took part in the Language Campus school visit programme.
In the morning of November 28th we were two French and a Finn, beginning our school visit day in Viitaniemi’s school. Right away, the French students felt immersed in a new cultural environment: the Finnish school system that Pisa made so famous. The modern architecture of the building and the freedom of movement of the pupils – free to roam around the corridors, eat here and there, shoes on or off – is very different from the French school atmosphere where entries are checked and pupils are found in corridors only for class changes.
We started the day by giving two classes to eight-graders in Viitaniemi and we later did the same with eight-graders in Kuokkala’s school. We also took part in a class with a group of seventh graders in Kuokkala. We gave a similar kind of lesson to each of the groups. The lessons consisted of power-point and prezi presentations where the exchange students presented some of the French regions from where they came or which they knew well. One presentation covered the Basque country culture (south-western area) and the other was on the Northern French area and Brittany (western area). The presentations contained many pictures to help the pupils understand what was said. After that, a quiz about the French culture was organized by the Finnish student, with questions such as “Which one of those people is French: A.Albert Einstein, B. Jacques Chirac, and C. Céline Dion”. In the last class we gave, the exchange students taught the pupils some expressions of colloquial French instead of having the quiz. For example, greetings (e.g., Hey, what’s up? “Salut, ça va?”) and some common expressions of admiration used between friends (e.g., You rock/kick asses! “Tu gères!”) were explained and taught.
At the end of the school day, the teacher showed us around Kuokkala’s school and this was a very nice and interesting visit for the French students. The cooking and the manual work classrooms were of particular interest because there is no such thing in France. The teacher and the Finnish student explained until which grade the manual work and the cooking classes are compulsory and how it could become an option later. It seems that the cooking course is a very popular option among boys. While visiting the cooking class, we could still smell in the air freshly backed pastries. The French students felt really sorry they did not get the chance to bake and have cooking classes such as this one at their French schools.
The day was useful and pleasant for every part concerned. The pupils got a nice change to listen to authentic spoken French and gain knowledge about French culture. We hope that the visit will motivate them to keep studying French! The Finnish peer and the teacher of the groups we were giving lessons to were able to practice their oral French skills and got an opportunity to learn more about the French school system too. Moreover, the French students discovered much about the Finnish school and Finnish pupils, and were very impressed with this other schooling culture.