On Wednesday, April 13, 13 Lincoln Academy students and two teachers will travel to St. Laurent du Var, France, just west of Nice, as part of a 12-day Lincoln Academy World Languages Department trip. While in France the students will stay with French families in groups of twos and threes, and take immersion French language classes every morning. In the afternoons, they will travel by train to well known areas along the French Riviera, including Monaco, Eze, Cannes, Nice,and Antibes.
This kind of homestay and immersion experience has a significant educational impact on students, says Lincoln Academy French teacher Alison Welch, who is one of two teacher chaperones on the trip. “This kind of travel with a school trip is different for students than traveling with their own families. They stay with host families, and are immersed in the language. They will eat with families, get to know families, have dinner and breakfast with them.
They get so much more cultural experience than if they were staying in a hotel and speaking English most of the time. It also changes the experience when you have friends to share it with.”
Freshman Ezra Smith agrees. “Not being with my family will lend a little more independence to the trip. You act differently with your family than with another group: they are your family and they have expectations. I think it is great to go with the school because it’s a learning opportunity.”
The LA World Languages Department has been leading student trips to France and Spain for more than 20 years. This kind of educational travel to countries whose language students are studying is integral to the language-education philosophy at LA. “Travel improves students’ confidence with language. These trips make them willing to take more risks; they know that they are being understood. Trips get them excited about learning language; they understand that they are learning something they can use,” said Welch. And this, in turn, makes them better language students in the classroom.
“I am really excited,” said freshman Nolan Michael, one of the trip participants. “I have never been to France, even though my sister used to live there. I am happy to be going to a new place other than Maine.” Is he confident about his language skills? “Well, I am just a freshman, so I haven’t actually learned that much yet. But I am not nervous at all.”
In preparation for their trip, participating students have been meeting weekly with language teachers Alison Welch, who teaches French, and Lyn Bass, who teaches Spanish, to review the of logistics of passports, currency exchange, and travel details.
The total cost of the trip is around $2100, including airfare, lodging, museum entry fees, public transportation, and all meals except for lunch. Students held a fundraiser, the annual International Club dinner, to defray the cost of the trip for the entire group. “We try hard to keep the trip affordable,” said Welch. “This is an amount students can earn in one summer. Home stays are cheaper than hotels, provide a rich cultural experience, and we save money by going as a group,” said Ms. Welch. “That’s why we do the trips this way.”
Anyone who is interested can follow the trip’s progress on the Lincoln Academy International Club Facebook page, where the group will post pictures throughout the trip.
“I am excited to go to the romance capital of the world,” said junior Noah Jones, who says his biggest challenge on the trip will be “trying to speak French properly, and not annoy the French people. My goal is to really appreciate the culture. It is a beautiful culture. It will be neat to see the gorgeousness of humanity from an entirely different perspective.”