July, 2006

Jul 06

Foreign Language Education in the U.K.

Time flies so fast! This time last week I was making a presentation to French teachers in the U.K. I got to meet a lot of fascinating people and stay in a really beautiful spot.

Did you know that the government in the U.K. has spent absolutely billions of dollars on foreign language education? Every single class has a “whiteboard” where a teacher, using a computer and projector, can include the entire class in online learning. Also, according to Stéphane Derône, my host and the president of Linguascope, each school in the U.K. has TEN computer labs which teachers are free to use with their students. WOW! That’s all I can say.

The trip was interesting and an education in itself. The most important thing I learned was that electrical power in the U.K. differs from the rest of Europe. I had thought I’d packed the right adaptor for the occasion. What a surprise, complete with sparks flying and a walloping bang (at the electrical store) as they tried to outfit me with the correct type of adaptors. Luckily, no harm was done to the equipment with the exception of a power bar that was fried in the process.

On July 14th, Danièl Eychenne, Julien Colot and I made presentations to secondary school French teachers teaching in the U.K.

Danièl, a French teacher in Denmark and co-author of the Avante Garde textbook series and Julien, the director of a language school in Helsinki, made presentations that were most interesting. Danièl shared some great ideas of how to make learning French more meaningful for students. Julien has created a website chock full of free activities teaching French. His website is REALLY great. You can check it out at www.maisondequartier.com.

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Julien Colot [left] and Danièl Eychenne [right] presentations.

Stéphane Derône, president of Linguascope.com planned the day so well that everyone had a memorable time. Stéphane never mentioned that his office is also located in this beautiful location known as Westwood Park. When you look at the pictures of the gardens below, you will know just how lucky Stéphane is to come here to work every day! Not a bad life!

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Stéphane and the gardens of Westwood Park.

Of course I made a presentation too. You can check out my presentation as well as class participants here.

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When we weren’t busy making presentations and chatting about the state of foreign language education, Stéphane drove us about. Talk about scary! This is when the right side of the road (as we know it) becomes the wrong side!

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Little Horkesley (where the conference was held) is just outside of Colchester, England. Colchester is known for being the oldest town in the U.K. Here you can take a look at the main street and some of the beautiful gardens.

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Stéphane Derône is a really interesting character. While teaching French in a school in the U.K., to students who were disinterested for the most part, Stéphane began creating online games to make the learning of foreign languages fun. His websites are now famous in the U.K. and all over Europe. To learn more about the workshop and Stéphane’s websites, please visit: