One difference I have noticed between the UK and France is the enthusiasm children have when it comes to language learning. Although children will be children and there a few who lack motivation in classes, the general drive for learning in English in schools over here is something really encouraging.
I started my week with a full day in a school as part of their English Week and taught ten back-to-back English lessons to 300 primary school children across the day. Before arriving at the school, I was told the children were really enthusiastic about learning English but I didn’t prepare myself for how far the school went to show their motivation and excitement for the English-themed week.
Upon arriving at the school, I was shown to the classrooms and briefed on the day ahead. However, what followed this showed me how much the school promoted excitement in language learning. As I left the classroom and headed outside, I walked down the outside staircase to the playground to be greeted by 300 children stood in their class lines performing the very British Queen wave, a giant Union Jack flag being waved from the high window over the playground, and God Save the Queen blaring through the school’s PA system!
Although of course this doesn’t happen everyday in French primary schools, it showed me a spark of excitement in the children’s language learning journey and a difference between most Europeans and the classic “stereotypical Brit” making little effort to speak the local language on holiday. This is certainly not the case for everyone in Britain by any means, but generally some could say the attitude towards learning a second language for English speakers is that English is such a widely spoken language, so is there much point?
So at this sad time for language learners in Britain as we wait to see what comes out of the signing of Article 50 and the exit from the European Union, I think it is becoming even more important to harness this positivity and enthusiasm in learning a second language.
I am off back to a Sunday of blue skies, reading and playing with the children of my host family in the garden. This is the second French-English bilingual family I have had the pleasure of living with, and my envy of their perfect grasp of languages is something any language student can dream of! Watching the conversations flick between languages is really inspiring and shows another side of language learning which I am loving being a part of!
Thank you for reading!