There is nothing more rewarding for language students than connecting with peers across linguistic and national borders. This year, Tabor’s French 4 students had the opportunity to experience this by partnering with a class at the Institut d’éducation motrice in Couzeix, a small town in central France. We first met their instructor Madame Stenger via an online forum. At the time we both had thirteen students eager to participate. Our primary goal was to communicate with francophone students in French. Most groups mostly want to practice English, which makes finding a good match challenging. Madame Stenger’s interest was cultural. She wanted her students to learn about America in their own language. It was a great fit.
The exchange started with two rounds of e-mails. Each Tabor student was paired with a French peer with whom they discussed topics ranging from music and sports to family and relationships. These letters bled directly into the French 4 coursework. Cultural differences apparent in the correspondence acted as the catalyst for rich class discussions. We learned about new French artists and listened to them in class. The new words and structures from the letters became the source of vocabulary lessons.
Our partner class in Couzeix took this model even further. They completed research projects on the development of Eastern Massachusetts, the geography of the Southcoast, and the history of Tabor itself. They then displayed the results in the halls of their school.
During this communication, we learned that the students at Tabor and Couzeix share a common bond—a first-hand experience with boarding school life—with one critical difference: the IEM school serves teens with different types of motor impairments. Living on the grounds is critical for making progress.
We are now in the process of producing videos that will help us better understand cultural differences. Each Tabor student recorded a discussion of their thoughts on living in America followed up with a question for their French partner. The Couzeix class created an amazing video for Tabor students-- it's a tour of a typical week of school, which you can watch here (dust-off your French vocabulary!)
With the end of the school year rapidly approaching, our ambitions for the exchange are running up against time constraints, but we are looking forward to more fun and meaningful communication before June. Tabor is fortunate to have found such a dedicated partner school.