International Language and Culture Camp in a New Mode
Every year the Department of German and French Languages arranges Language and Culture Camp for foreign students learning French at the Institute of Foreign Languages and students of the Lycee Jean Dautet (La Rochelle, France) learning Russian.
This year students of PetrSU traditionally had to spend two weeks in France, however, in view of coronavirus outbreak the trip was cancelled. At the same time, the organizers did not give up and, albeit virtually, but held the camp.
30 students of the Institute of Foreign Languages (groups No. 112 and 132, educational program "Teacher Education", specialization "French Language" and "English Language"), as well as 20 students of the Lycee Jean Dautet from La Rochelle got acquainted, communicated, practiced language and design a joint project in April and May.
To provide insight into new culture, a variety of lectures have been prepared for the participants of the project: Madam Claude Joubert, a member of "Friendship" society (La Rochelle), told about the main mistakes made by the Russians in learning French, as well as current coronavirus situation in France and attitude of the French people towards it, made some comments on satirical cartoons in the French press.
The important accomplishment was a virtual meeting with Mr. Michel Vallée, the Senator of the Charente-Maritime department, a member of the commission on foreign relations, particularly, with the Russian Federation. During the meeting, the Senator emphasized the place of French language in the world as well as the efforts made by the French themselves to preserve and spread their language. Mr. Vallée has once studied Russian, he has information about the driving position of French as a foreign language in Russia and appreciated the high level of language of PetrSU students.
The topic for the international camp is always associated with the study of the educational systems of the two countries. This year, following the recent signing of the agreement on cooperation with the La Rochelle University, thematic seminars were organized where the head of the international office of the French university outlined the specific features of foreign student studying process in La Rochelle, about living conditions and the proposed programs. Sanitary conditions permitting, 3rd year students Maria Terentyeva and Veronika Zaitseva will go to the University of La Rochelle in September for a semester study. The students have already received confirmation from the French side.
Despite the virtual format, the camp was not limited to open lectures via Zoom. 1st year students of the Institute of Foreign Languages and 2nd grade schoolchildren (corresponds to the 10th grade of the Russian education system) of the Lycee Jean Dautet on the padlet platform created a project of introduction, where they told not only about themselves and their interests in the language they learn, but made insightful and creative videos about their favourite place in hometown, so that foreign friends could acquaint with the sister city at least virtually.
In addition, the students of the Institute of Foreign Languages joined the Russian language classes at the French Lycee, could communicate in French and also act as Russian native speakers that greatly motivated the French students to talk.
Some of impressions provided by students of the Institute of Foreign Languages, participants of the International Language and Culture Camp, are outlined below.
"I will keep in mind the recent joint project of our Institute and the Lycee of La Rochelle. Not only because it was the first one during our studies. Communication and meeting with new people are always interesting, but it is especially exciting when these people represent completely different culture and are the native speakers whom language you learn. Communication with high school students via Zoom has given a great experience, because it is one thing to communicate with a teacher and practice listening, "live" communication is completely different, when you had to answer questions related to different spheres of life.
The project also included a video giving the city overview (Petrozavodsk and La Rochelle) which was also exciting, especially for me, as a person who is fond of travelling and excursions. I really enjoyed everything!"
"I was lucky to join a meeting with students from La Rochelle via Zoom, where we answered each other's questions and gained experience in communicating with foreigners. It was an unforgettable experience, I looked at French from a different angle. All the guys were very nice and funny. I am very grateful and hope that there will be more such meetings".
"This is, undoubtedly, an insightful project that provided a little closer look at the real French people and their way of communication! The teachers and the guys turned were very nice and funny which affected the atmosphere and nature of our meeting! Listening to live, unprepared speech is a great pleasure and of much interest! Thus, please accept my sincere gratitude for the opportunity to participate in such a meeting allowing to entirely fall in love with France and its culture!"
"A joint project with schoolchildren from La Rochelle was a great opportunity for us to communicate with French native speakers and learn more about their hometown. During the project, we could represent our creativity through sharing videos of our favourite places in our cities. We also did not miss a chance to develop our oral and written communication skills in French. For this reason, we used distance learning technologies like Padlet and Zoom. The idea of the project evoked a profound response in our hearts, it was very interesting and comprehensive. We are looking forward to developing the project in the next academic year with new content and in new formats".
The Department of the German and French Languages encloses special gratitude to Madam Alexandra Nantet, the English language teacher at the Lycee Jean Dautet, and Mr. Patrick Ancel, the adviser to the President of La Rochelle University, for assistance in organizing the camp in a new mode.
The camp participants are making plans for the coming year which may become special: sanitary conditions permitting, a delegation of students from the Lycee Jean Daute will arrive in Petrozavodsk in February, and in April, students of the Institute of Foreign Languages will go to La Rochelle trying not to waste the opportunity which this year was missed.