Hors Pistes regularly works with schools and especially with medium high school in order to make students aware of other foreign languages and European cultures. A team of European volunteers works directly in class with the students to create interactive and fun animations in a chosen language.
The languages we regularly propose are: Italian, Spanish, English, Arab, and German. Other languages are also possible, depending on the volunteers we receive.
This action was proposed in 2013 and then developed in collaboration with the Var Department that wishes to promote and support the pedagogical practices of learning foreign languages in medium high school.
In May 2018, the international volunteers presented their languages and cultures in ”the languages week”. Here is a newspaper article that contains feedback and the testimony of Julie, the volunteer who facilitated the workshops.
”The 15-18 May week, the national week of languages, represented the occasion to escape my routine and find myself in a place that reminds me of my childhood years, the college. During three days, Karim, Emma, Anne and me had the opportunity to facilitate linguistic workshops with children aged 11 to 15 years old, students of the Eluard medium high school. On the first day, with a little bit of restraint, but lot of enthusiasm, I asked myself if I am capable of coordinating a class of 25 children and keep their focus for an entire hour.
The first class welcomed me with an energetic ”buenos días” and with eyes full of curiosity. My schedule started with an activity meant to help them learn the animals in Spanish and to also break the ice: they all had a small piece of paper and had to make the sound of the animal drawn on their paper in order to find the others that had the same animal and then form the groups. The farm simulation was a good sign for me, since the students’ laughter could be heard all along the corridor. More confident, I continued with a quiz on Spain. The class, now split in groups, was more enthusiastic and engaged in answering the questions. I was quite sursprised to discover that they already knew most of the answers and the spirit of competition immediately took hold. The rest of the activities varied according to the students’ level of Spanish. With the intermediate ones I did the “el abecedario”: I wrote an alphebetical line on the dashboard and the kids were supposed to write within a limited time a word that began with each letter of the line. Through this activity, the students got to be aware of their vast vocabulary in Spanish and the teachers had, therefore, the occasion to see the fruits of their efforts despite the students’ busy schedule that leaves little room for learning other languages. For the students who were in their first year of Spanish or those who have never studied it, I prepared a game through which they could learn how to give directions in Spanish. Within the activity “el ciego, el sordo y el mudo”, a student was blindfolded and had to search for a thing hidden in the classroom. Another student, “el sordo”, had to give directions in Spanish to guide “el ciego”, but withouth looking where is the object. The rest of the class, “los mudos”, the only ones who could see where the thing is hidden and the direction taken by “el ciego”, had to give directions through gesticulation, without speaking. The hour passed faster than I expected during the linguistic games, the animations, and the laughter.
This experience strengthened my opinion towards the importance of languages and their learning as soon as possible. It was motivating to see how the kids enjoyed and were interested in languages. They quickly learned the new words I taught them.
I myself have studied for more years in a French bilingual college and even though in the beginning the idea of learning French did not attract me at all, now I realize how lucky I am to be able to communicate with people from other countries and cultures.
All the weeks should be national weeks of languages!”