exchange during the school year programs

Exchange Programs During the School Year

“Current events clearly show how much more interconnected all of us are to the whole world. This gives schools ever more impressive reasons for accepting international exchange students enthusiastically and using them as resources to broaden student and community perspectives on the world.

Youth exchanges provide foreign exchange students with an American experience, giving them a more balanced understanding of our country. They encourage new perspectives for the school’s own students that open their minds to the world. More importantly, these ‘connections’ help teenagers on both sides of exchange grow and gain maturity.

The concept of exchange programs began more than half a century ago with the Fulbright-Hays Act. High-level officials have supported international student exchange every year since. These cross-cultural experiences offer unique opportunities for American schools to help their students and communities:

  • Learn first-hand about other cultures and customs
  • Create life-long friendships across cultures
  • Gain new perspectives on our country and the world
  • Begin to understand how tightly connected the peoples and countries of the world are to each other, something our world seriously needs
  • Open young minds to the importance of understanding other languages and other cultures, particularly with respect to career and personal opportunities

International exchange students offer an exciting resource. Many schools have created special events and programs to encourage all students to get to know these guests from other cultures and expand their own horizons and interests. Such efforts also help exchange students feel comfortable in an all-new life by taking full advantage of their opportunities.

International youth exchange programs internationalize American high schools – one exchange at a time. Thank you for your support of these seminal programs. You are helping to mold our next generation of world leaders.”

Vistas In Education organizes exchange programs during the school year between American schools and French schools. If you are interested in learning more, contact us today.

CSIET, a national non-profit foundation, is dedicated to promoting quality international youth exchanges that enrich local high school communities. The Model School Policy on International Student Exchange can be found at csiet.org and has been endorsed by: National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP); National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and American Association of School Administrators (AASA).

Jumping off Bench

Having Humor in France

When traveling, it’s important to be an ambassador of your country. What does this mean? It means wherever you are, you are an American and whatever they think of you is what they will think of all Americans. If you strut your bikini top and leggings while you’re walking down the Champs Elysée, the French are not very likely to have the best impression of Americans. However, if you dress as they do, ask for things quietly and politely (even if you must ask in English), smile, and say “please” and “thank you”. You’ll leave them with a nice impression of Americans and thus be an ambassador of your country. It’s important to show respect to their culture, their traditions and their people just as you would if they were to visit your home town. 

That being said, it’s also important to have a sense of humor when traveling. Traveling is predictably unpredictable and if you don’t have a sense of humor about it, then having to take a two hour taxi ride instead of the planned 20 minute train ride due to a strike will send your mood down the drain pretty quickly.

 To put you in the laughing mood, here’s an excerpt from “Wicked French for the Traveler” by Howard Tomb.

 “France has found favor with painters since Neanderthal times. Some of the greatest artists, Picasso and Van Gogh among them, left their native lands and moved to France permanently. Some historians believe that French sunlight has special qualities that bring colors to life for artists. Other experts insist that certain painters had simply bounced too many checks in their own countries. Whatever the reason for their presence, artists have left millions of paintings and sculptures in France.  You won’t be able to avoid seeing some of them during your stay.”

 Art museums have been idea pickup spots for centuries, since they naturally screen out the unwashed, thereby ensuring that the pool of potential mates is held at a relatively high intellectual an social level. But simply entering a house of worship such as the Louvre or Pompidou is not enough. Nor is the ‘knowing what one likes’ and gawking at it. Once muse en mettre plein la vue like Philippe de Montebello to be sure to impress one’s fellow art lover and prospective victim.

Note: Do not attempt to pronounce van Gogh. It sounds something remotely like ‘van gohjgkhh’. Stick with Vincent, ‘van-SAHN’.

Humorous phrases (with French translation) to use in the museum: 

Notice how the fruit is dramatically outlined in black.

Remarquez comme le fruit est soulingé en noir d’un façon dramatique. 

Cézanne’s little limes almost leap into your mouth.

Les petits citrons verts de Cézanne vous sautent pratiquement dans la bouche.

Have you noticed Monet’s bold use of blue here?

Avez-vouz remarqué l’audace du bleu dans ce Monet?

 The lone water lily signifies the essential loneliness of existence.

Le Nénuphar isolé incarne la solitude essentielle de l’existence.

Let’s talk about it over a cup of espresso.

Parlons-en tout en prenant un café express.

And  while you’re out at the café with your new beau or belle from the museum, you should follow some important café etiquette with your new beau or belle from the museum, you should follow some important café etiquette:

No matter how many espressos you drink while you’re there:

  1. Do not sing, even if you suddenly realize how to speak French.
  2. Do not make political speeches or announcements
  3. Do not slap strangers on the back
  4. Do not force-feed strangers or their dogs

 

Enrich your life

10 Ways Being a Foreign Exchange Student Will Enrich Your Life Forever

When studying abroad, especially while staying with a host family, there are the obvious advantages: learning a new language and making new friends. But there’s so much more to it. This experience of being a foreign exchange student and living as the locals do will serve you for the rest of your life.  Here are the top 10 ways it will change your life: 

1. Breaking out

The decision alone to be a foreign exchange student is HUGE! It can be frightening, exciting, worrisome, thrilling all at the same time. Just getting on that plane and taking that step into the unknown is amazing in itself, and not many people have that ability to just go and see where it takes you.

2. Experience a new way of thinking

Living with a host family will give you the opportunity of seeing everything from their eyes and it’s often different than what you learned growing up. Some examples may be: Seeing that bread is a staple in their daily lives and it comes straight from the bakery, not the grocery store. Lunch is a more important meal than dinner. It makes more sense to take public transportation than drive your own car. You need less space than you may think to live. Fresh meals are more important than frozen or pre-packaged meals. Cheese can be a dessert.  School days can be extremely long and rigorous, and sports are often not important in education. After seeing another perspective, in future careers, you’ll be able to see both sides of the coin and facilitate discussions between parties.

3. Respect diversity

People are different everywhere, yet they are also the same. Until you spend some time in another country, it can be hard to understand this. Maybe you’ll feel called to continue with a career along these lines, or doing volunteer work when you return to the states.

4. Become more independent

When traveling abroad, you learn to be very independent very quickly. You learn to speak with strangers to get directions, because you can only pretend you know where you’re going for so long. You learn to read maps, in other languages. You learn that you can do whatever you put your mind to. This is HUGE!

 5. Language Immersion

Yes, if you immerse yourself in another language, you will learn another language. You’ll also pick up slang words, speech patterns, sentence structure, accents, and favorite phrases of your host family. Maybe you’ll even learn to distinguish the different accents of the country depending on which region you are in. You’ll learn the language taking the bus, going to the grocery store, going to the bank, ordering a meal, telling people about where you are from, and when making new friends. And you’ll learn it all much more quickly than learning from a book or language learning podcasts. Your language skills will become remarkable and impressive.

 6Adaptability

 You need to be able to adapt to anything, and without letting it fluster you. Buses will be late, trains will be late, you’ll be wearing the wrong thing, you’ll misunderstand someone about a meeting time or place, you’ll have to eat food you don’t particularly like, you’ll have to wear damp clothes because you didn’t realize they don’t use a dryer and hanging everything to dry takes longer than you thought. Make no mistake about it, this is a SKILL that a lot of people don’t have and it will serve you well in your future careers. 

7. Learn more about your own culture

You may be amazed at how often people will ask you about where you came from while you are living abroad. Sometimes they may even know more than you! You may also be surprised to find that they may ask questions like the population of your state, what the transportation like, what the #1 import in your state is, what the economy and housing market are like in your state, what is your policy on immigration. You will become a walking resource for your state and country!

8.Become a local

 When you’re able to spend some time in a new country and become part of the community, it will go beyond what the famous monument for that city is, or where the best restaurant is. You’ll know the shortest route from your bus to your home. You’ll know which market is the best for cheese and where to buy a pastry or flowers when you’ve been invited to dinner at someone’s house (or even that you SHOULD bring a pastry or flowers when you’ve been invited to dinner!). You’ll learn where the pharmacy is and what to do if you get sick. You’ll learn how to set up a bank account. While doing these things, you’ll also become part of the community… your community. You’ll have an understanding of the country which is much deeper than anyone who just spent a 2 days there on a bus tour.

9. Stories for a lifetime

When speaking with people who have been a foreign exchange student abroad, whether it was 5 years ago or 50 years ago, they still have stories and often they still have friends abroad whom they are still in contact with. These are stories to pass down to your children and maybe even your grandchildren.

 10Travel bug

 The Travel bug is a real thing. Not real in that it’s a real bug, but that it really does exist. Once you’ve traveled abroad and learned ALL the skills above and you realize how amazing it is to discover new cultures and new places, you’ll want to keep traveling. There’s so much to see in this big world of ours, and so much to experience. You’ll no longer be satisfied with learning about a culture on the internet. You’ll long to be part of the culture and to experience it for yourself.

Enjoy the journey!

Student taking pictures in France

Educational Tours in France

Whether you’re passionate about art, culture, history, architecture or exotic food, France has everything for those who love learning. Even before a college study abroad program, there are dozens of educational tours to help middle and high school students get the most out of the unique and interesting country of France.  

Enjoy coffee at a chic cafe at the Champs-Élysées, or an unforgettable meal in a brasserie hidden in Paris’ Latin Corner. Stroll the beaches of Normandy and stand on the battle site where Allied forces landed to liberate occupied France.. No matter what site or region piques your interest, France has plenty of gorgeous and educational destinations for students of all ages.

Explorica – Best of France Tour

Explorica, a travel company based out of Boston, offers plenty of opportunities for educational travel in France. For those students looking for an overview of the country, try Explorica’s Best of France tour. The 15-17 day trip introduces students to the culturally rich and diverse regions of France. From the chic shops of the Champs-Élysées to the historic Gothic châteaux in the Loire Valley to the picturesque beaches of the French Riviera, students will be able to explore the best sites in the country.

Prométour – French Classes & Homestay in Nice

Prométour Educational Tours have a few different options for students traveling to France, including their French Classes & Homestay in Nice tour, which lasts eight days. Throughout this educational tour, you’ll visit four cities in the southern part of the country: Nice, Monaco, Cannes and Eze. In each city, the students partake in a three-hour French class, where they learn the language, lifestyle and culture of France. Additionally, students are allowed to explore the cities and learn about the history of each place.

Education First – Paris in Depth Tour

Education First offers a comprehensive tour with their eight-day trip, Paris in Depth. With all-inclusive benefits, like round-trip flights, transportation throughout the trip, accommodations, a dedicated tour director, meals and activities, teachers can rest easy knowing everything is taken care of. Students will have the chance to take guided tours of popular attractions like the Eiffel Tower, Arc de Triomphe, the Louvre and Notre-Dame de Paris, among others. On day four, students are allowed to explore Paris on their own.

Jumpstreet Educational Tours – France Class Trip

If World War II history sparks your interest, Jumpstreet Educational Tours offer a 10-day trip to Paris, Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley. The trip starts in Normandy and Brittany, where you’ll retrace the roots of the Second World War. An afternoon can be spent exploring the beaches of Normandy at Longues-Sur-Mer where you can learn about the battles that happened during World War II, as well as the fortifications of the Atlantic Wall built by Nazi Germany. Of course, the tour also offers more than just war history – on day three you’ll visit Leonardo da Vinci’s home, the Clos Lucé, and the next day you’ll visit the expansive Palace of Versailles, among other adventures.

Vistas In Education – Family Stay & Custom Tours

VIE and their French partner APEC use their expert knowledge of France to offer custom educational tours throughout all of France, including standard tours of Normandy, Brittany and the Loire Valley; the Côte d’Azur and Provence; and Reims, Alsace and the French alps. Touring with a French government-certified guide allows travelers the opportunity to immerse themselves in French culture, enjoy authentic regional cuisine, and brush up on their French language skills before the capstone of the trip, a stay with a French family and a group dinner at the Eiffel Tower.

With the Family Stay, Vistas In Education gives students the unique opportunity to immerse themselves into the culture and become more than just tourists. Students make the most of what they’ve learned in the classroom and apply it to real life. Each student is welcomed as a member of their French host family and experiences the French lifestyle firsthand.. French host families will have a teenage son or daughter living at home and American students will have the chance to attend school when in session.

Son Tours – France History Tours

Son Tours strives to bring the enchanting past of France back to life with their History Tours. From imposing gothic cathedrals to royal medieval castles found in Burgundy, Anjou, Picardy, Champagne, and Alsace – students will be transported back to the time where kings and queens ruled supreme. Give your students a chance to learn about the age of the Renaissance, the time of the ancient Greeks and Romans or even back to the prehistoric period in Aquitaine, where cave paintings still exist from Europe’s earliest humans.

French Links – Unexplored Paris

French Links offers the self-proclaimed “Francophiles’ Delight” with its Unexplored Paris tour. Ideal for a week or long weekend trip, the main intention of this tour is to take you away from the standard tourist-flooded attractions and let you see another side of Paris. These hidden gems will educate and delight the student traveler, as they travel through the Marais District, the Covered Passages and the Bercy District, as well as little-known museums, art studios and more. With several different types of guided tour offerings, such as A Women’s History of Paris, Celebrities in Stone, the Middle Ages in the 21st Century and even a private cruise on the Seine.

Educational Advantage Tours – Rome Florence, Nice, Paris

This 10-day tour from Educational Advantage will give students an in-depth look into some of the most historical places in France. The Rome Colosseum will introduce students to the majesty of Roman architecture and learn about their culture. After three days in Rome, students will head to Florence and marvel at the most famous sculpture in the world, Michaelangelo’s David. On day seven, they’ll explore more of great works of classical artists, when they visit the Chagall and Matisse Museums in Nice. The trip concludes in Paris, where students can wander the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, Palace of Versailles and the Eiffel Tower.

ACIS – Le Grand Voyage Tour

With this educational tour of Trouville, the Loire Valley, Paris, Provence and Cote d’Azur, students will have an action-packed 10-day tour of the most visited regions of France. Students will be tasked with learning about the appeal and impact tourism has had in France over the last 150 years. They’ll also have the chance to explore a number of different historic sites, such as the Pont du Gard Roman aqueduct and the Château de Chenonceau.

Travelbound – Normandy-Château du Molay Food Technology

With this culinary-themed tour offered by Travelbound, student groups have the opportunity to learn about the rich culinary heritage and traditions of Normandy. Highlights of the tour include an exquisite frogs’ legs and snails tasting at dinner, some quality time with goats at a cheese farm, bread baking courses at a boulangerie, and French food preparation and ingredients training. Those students interested in learning about the food of France will relish in the chance to take expert cooking lessons at a local restaurant or culinary school.

Anglo Educational Tours – Tour The Somme

Anglo Educational Tours offer many options to the student traveling to France. One of their most popular choices, however, is the tour of the Somme. Here, students can explore some exceptionally interesting sites and enrich their learning by visiting the places read about in books. As the location of the largest battle of World War I on the Western Front, the Battle of the Somme, this tour will take students through the history and outcomes of this major international upheaval. Visit the Museum of the Great War and learn how the Allies fought off the Central Powers in 1916 during the four and a half month battle, in which more than one million soldiers were wounded or killed.

ProActive Travel – Educational Tour to Paris

With ProActive Travel’s Tour to Paris, students will be thrown into a rich and cultural experience that they can’t find in a classroom. Students are guided through all of the best attractions, like the Eiffel Tower, the Louvre, the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée Marmottan Monet. Students can also easily combine their trip to Paris with guided tours of other cities, such as Normandy and the chateaus of the Loire Valley.

CEI Europe Tours – West France Tour

This tour, offered by CEI, is ideal for student groups interested in history and culture. With customizable itineraries, students can learn about some of the most intriguing attractions in the Western France region. From famous castles to the breathtaking Mont Saint-Michel Abbey, CEI offers an unforgettable experience at an affordable rate.

Rocknroll Adventures – Educational School Tours to France

With Rocknroll Adventures, students will be whisked away and immersed in the French culture on a completely custom trip. To ensure that the student group enjoys every moment of their trip, Rocknroll offers a healthy balance of outdoor adventure with historical and cultural experiences. With a designated program every day, they take the stress off of the teacher or group leader and do all the organizational work for you.

Bon Voyage!

Whether you want to take a stroll along the Seine River, look out upon Paris from the top of the Eiffel Tower, cook up some local cuisine or learn about the solemn history of WWII, there’s no shortage of educational tours for students in France.

Whether you’re a teacher or student looking to travel to France, there are learning opportunities for learners of all ages. With a France’s rich heritage in art, culture, history and architecture, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful country. There’s plenty to see, so what are you waiting for? All you need is a sense of adventure!

Schedule Your Tour Today with Vistas In Education!

If you’re dreaming of traveling to France, while learning all about the country’s history, culture and language along the way, reach out to Vistas In Education today. We offer a number of different opportunities for teachers and students alike. We’ll take the stress and hassle of organizing a student trip off your shoulders, giving you peace of mind knowing that everything like flight tickets, transportation, accommodations and meals are well taken care of. From personalized Family Stay programs to custom educational tours, we offer our clients an experience that they will never forget.

Find out why our clients continue to put their trust in VIE – get in touch with us today!

 

Easy tips to Learn French

How to Learn French Faster: 10 Tips

Bonjour ! Êtes-vous prêt à apprendre le français ?

As one of the most beautiful and romantic languages in the world, learning French will benefit you in more ways than one. Learning the French language will let you converse with over 220 million people and ensure that your trip to France will go smoothly.

Learning a new language can seem daunting, however with the right strategy, you can build confidence in your French in no time. Whether you’re preparing for a trip, hosting a French exchange student or just want to learn the language of romance for fun, here are 10 tips to help you learn French faster.

1) Understand How You Learn

The first step to learning French faster is to actually understand how you learn – are you a visual or auditory learner, or a combination of both? In other words, do you learn best by looking at something yourself or hearing something spoken by an instructor? This will dictate how you approach learning the language. Flash cards may be the best for you if you’re a visual learner while listening to an audiobook may be the better option if you’re more of an auditory learner.

In the majority of courses, you will do a lot of French writing, but most likely less speaking. If you’ve taken foreign language classes before, revisit those materials and try to distinguish which learning tactics worked well for you and which ones didn’t.

2) Learn the Language Structure

As you begin learning French, it may seem overwhelming. However, as you pick more and more things up, things that you learn in the beginning of your training will make much more sense as you improve.

A solid foundation is the key to getting started. The first thing you need to learn is the structure of the French language. You should know how verbs, adjectives and nouns work in conjunction with each other, and learn to distinguish present, past and future verb tenses. When you can apply basic grammar and proper pronunciation to your sentences, you’ll sound much more intelligent when conversing with a native speaker.

As you learn French nouns, always include an indication of its gender, such as a flashcard for le crayon to remember that the French word for pencil is masculine. The gender of nouns in French is not based on an object’s inherent masculinity or femininity, but rather on the ending of the word itself. Analytical learners will appreciate research done by linguists that list which endings are more likely masculine or feminine.

Proper pronunciation is incredibly important when speaking French. From an English-speaker’s perspective, the rules governing which combinations of letters indicate which sound, also known as phonetics, is not intuitive. For example, the French language has vowel combinations like “-oi” that are pronounced, “wha”, and “-eau” which is pronounced “oh”. Learning the basics of French phonetics will take out much of the guesswork in French phonetics.

3) Learn how to Read and Write in French

This is a basic function for anyone who wants to be proficient in French. Learning to read and write will help reinforce the terms, sentences and phrases that you’re learning, as well as teach you new ones. If you’re not ready to pick up a French novel, try something a little simpler like a children’s book (after all, they are designed to help children learn the language, so they can help you too!). Another tactic is to pick up one of your favorite books in a French translation and try reading a few passages here and there. Knowing the plot and literary context will make it easier to take in the grammar and new vocabulary. If you can’t find a book that’s suitable for you, try writing your own. Write in French as much as you possibly can, even if it’s just a few sentences a day or putting together your grocery list in French – this will let you track your progress as you develop your skills.

4) Speak in French as much as Possible

One of the best things you can do to learn French quickly is to speak it as much as possible. No matter how poor you are at the beginning, speak with confidence until you start to grasp the unique sentences and phrases that make the language so compelling. We all had to start out somewhere, but as the old adage goes, practice makes perfect.

If you’re searching for ways to inject some French into your everyday conversations, try some of these approaches.

  • Narrate your everyday life in French – if you’re taking out the trash, doing the laundry, mowing the lawn, writing down a grocery list or driving your car, try speaking some French out-loud to yourself as you complete these day-to-day tasks.
  • Interact with a French person – there are plenty of websites and programs that connect students with native French speakers to work on their communication together.  
  • Join local French clubs, organizations or schools – if you’re in a larger city, there are conversation groups, meet-ups and networks for students of French to meet one another. Use these resources to your advantage by becoming a member and connecting with others in your local area who share your passion.

5) Listen to French

Whether it’s a TV show, a French film, an audiobook or some French music, there are plenty of things you can listen to in order to improve your auditory understanding of the language. When you find something that catches your ear, mimic what it is you hear to reinforce French pronunciation. Professional translators and those who grew up bilingual swear by this method, in which you “shadow” what others are saying. Absorbing French culture by listening not only reinforces pronunciation and intonation, developing a taste for French music, film or television can make learning more fun and engaging.

Listening to native French speakers will let you understand the many nuances of French usage and intonation. The more things you can listen to, the better you will get – so on your morning commute, instead of NPR, put a French audiobook on. Rather than watch your favorite program in English when you get home from work, stream the French version online instead (and turn on subtitles if necessary in the beginning). In the long run, you’ll benefit from hearing how people interact with one another and be better able to apply it to your own way of speaking.

6) Practice Often

You won’t get anywhere without practicing those words and phrases that you’ve learned. You can learn proper French quickly with the proper amount of practice. Here are some strategies to help you shorten the time it takes for you to learn the language.

  • Turn the language of your browser to French – browsing Google, Facebook, Twitter and other social media will help you understand more of the casual, informal intricacies of the language. It also helps you apply what you’re learning in a practical way.
  • Try thinking in French – if you have a loud inner voice, make an active effort to think in French instead of English. This will only further your ability to say words out loud.
  • Learn 30 words and phrases every single day. If you stick to this schedule you will learn about 80 percent of the language in only three months. The most common words make up the largest amount of conversations, so start by memorizing the basics.
  • Attach labels to household items with the French word and make sure you say the words out loud whenever you use them. From blowdryer to kitchen sink to television, you’ll learn some important nouns quickly after you’re exposed to the labels for a few days.
  • Make yourself a stack of flashcards and use them when you’re on the subway, during advertisements while you’re watching TV or whenever you have some time to yourself.
  • Never, ever give up – throughout the process, you may sometimes feel like you’re never going to grasp the French language. If you’re struggling, try switching up your learning methods. As long as you diligently practice, there’s no reason you can’t become a fantastic French speaker.

7) Learn the Basics of the French Language for an Upcoming Trips

If you’re preparing for an upcoming trip and are trying to cram some French words and phrases into your brain, start with some of the most commonly used ones in the language. This will help you interact with the locals, order food, find directions if you’re lost or communicate with emergency personnel.

8) French Salutations

These are useful phrases and words to start with, since most people begin and end an interaction in similar ways. Here are some of the most popular ways to say “hello” and “goodbye” in French.

  • Bonjour – Hello
  • Comment allez-vous ? — How are you?
  • Quoi de neuf ? – What’s up?
  • Coucou ! – Hey there!
  • Allô ? – Hello? (when answering the phone)
  • Salut ! – Hi/Bye-bye!
  • Au revoir ! – Goodbye!
  • Je suis désolé(e), mais je dois y aller – I’m sorry, but I have to go.
  • Bonne journée ! — Have a nice day! (often said to shopkeepers when leaving a store)
  • À plus tard ! (À plus !) – See you later!
  • À tout à l’heure ! – See you soon/see you in a while!
  • Je m’appelle  – My name is…

Remember to thank the people who help you. Say “merci” or “merci beaucoup” which means “thank you” or “thank you very much.”

9) Ask for Help in French

This is important when you’re traveling the country, as you may likely need to ask for directions or help along the way. Here are some of the most popular ways to say ask for help in French.

  • Parlez lentement, s’il vous plaît –  Please speak slowly
  • Désolé(e), je ne comprends pas – Sorry, I don’t understand
  • Desolé(e), je ne parle pas français (très bien) – I’m sorry, I don’t speak French (very well).
  • Excusez-moi, pouvez-vous me dire où est… ? – Excuse me, can you tell me where ______ is?
  • Pouvez-vous me diriger vers… – Can you direct me to…
  • Excusez-moi de vous déranger – Excuse me for bothering you

10) The most Common French phrases

Learn the most common French words to cover the basics. Here are ten survival words & expressions that are a must know:

  1. Oui / Non – Yes/ No
  2. Bonjour – Hello
  3. Au revoir – Good-bye
  4. Merci – Thank you
  5. Pardon / Excusez-moi – Excuse-me
  6. Parlez-vous anglais ? – Do you speak English?
  7. S’il vous plaît – Please
  8. Je voudrais – I would like (use along with ‘Please’)
  9. Combien ça coûte ?  – How much does it/this cost?
  10. Où sont les toilettes ? – Where are the restrooms? (use with ‘Please’)

Bon Voyage !

Now that you know some tips and tricks to learning French faster, you should feel more comfortable about traveling to the country. If you’re dreaming of learning the language of romance, try sharpening your French with any of the above tips today!

Profitez de votre voyage en France !  Bon apprentissage !

La fête de la musique!

Ernest Hemingway écrivait en 1964 « Paris est une fête ». Depuis le 21 juin 1982, la France entière devient une fête chaque année à la même date. En 1981, Jack Lang, alors ministre de la Culture, nomme un nouveau directeur de la musique et de la danse, Maurice Fleuret. Ce dernier souhaite alors créer un évènement d’envergure qui permettrait une rencontre de toutes les musiques, « sans hiérarchie de genre ni d’origine ».  La Fête de la Musique naît ainsi la même année et se déroule depuis plus de trente ans le 21 juin, jour symbolique du solstice d’été, le jour le plus long de l’hémisphère nord.

France24

La Fête de la Musique est un évènement national, gratuit et sans but lucratif. C’est majoritairement une manifestation de plein-air, des concerts sont organisés partout en France. Des représentations sont également organisées dans les prisons et les hôpitaux, afin de ne laisser personne en marge de cette célébration.

Asso-florine.com

Le succès de cette célébration a permis à la Fête de la Musique de s’exporter dans le monde entier. Elle a d’abord séduit l’Europe grâce à la charte de « La Fête Européenne de la Musique » signée à Budapest en 1997. En 2016, la Fête de la Musique a été célébrée dans 120 pays. Afin de faire vivre l’esprit de la Fête de la Musique tel qu’il a été imaginé en 1982 par Maurice Fleuret, chaque pays doit respecter la Charte européenne de la Fête de la Musique dont les principes sont la gratuité, la date du 21 juin, la diversité des pratiques musicales ou encore les concerts organisés en plein-air.

La ville de New York a adopté cette tradition. Organisée par Make Music New York, la Fête de la Musique est célébrée depuis plusieurs années dans la ville qui ne dort jamais, de Times Square à Greenwich Village en passant par Staten Island.

MMNY

Si vous avez la chance d’être en France à cette période de l’année, ne manquez surtout pas cette opportunité de profiter du soleil, de la musique et de la convivialité à la française !

map of france's cities

The Students Guide to Exploring Different Regions of France

Are you getting ready for the trip of a lifetime? For students travelling to France, you’ll be embarking on an adventure that you won’t soon forget – full of history, art, architecture, and of course food.

Every region in France is unique and features different opportunities for days of sightseeing and adventures. If you’re hopping the pond and heading to France, be sure to research the country’s most popular areas so you can make the most of your time abroad.

We’ll help you out by highlighting some of the top regions and départements (the French equivalent of an American state) that we think you should explore.

Île-de-France

Surrounded by rivers including Essonne, Epte, Aisne, Eure, Ourcq, and the region-spanning Seine which separates the two sides of Paris, the Ile de France region is where the country as we know it was born. In this temperate basin, the most popular cities for student tourists include Paris, Versailles, Fontainebleau and Giverny. With lively culture abound, you’ll find trendy bistros, quaint cafes and quirky bookshops mixed with medieval monuments and ancient landmarks around every corner. If you’re looking for old-world charm and the epitome of French culture, Ile de France is the region for you.

The Loire Valley

This region boasts two ancient provinces, Anjou and Touraine, which were adored by French royalty and nobility. Before Henry IV moved his court to Paris, kings, princes and barons built the most gorgeous castles in the Loire Valley. Some of these castles include Chambord, Cheverny, Amboise, and Villandry. Many are available to tour for a small fee.

Brittany

Extending into the Atlantic Ocean, Brittany occupies the westernmost region of the country, where rocky coastlines, celtic heritage, rainy weather and a regional language and history define the culture.

The area is home to many ancient archeological wonders. In fact, one of the oldest hearths in the world has been found in Plouhinec, Finistère, and is still standing at an age of 450,000 years old.

Carnac, the area’s most historic city, is home to one of the most extensive Neolithic menhir (ancient, massive standing stone) collections in the world. Celtic tribes inhabited the region following the prehistoric era, and ties to the Gaelic tongues of Wales and Ireland can still be heard in the local language of Breton.

This region is also a popular destination for French vacationers who visit the sandy beaches, jutting cliffs and relatively affordable lifestyle.

Normandy

Since we’re on the subject of historical places, Normandy, located in northern France, is home to one of the most famous sites of World War II: the D-Day landing beaches. But with over 370 miles of coastline and a thriving tourist industry, there’s plenty to see beyond the 1944 invasion site. It’s a favored getaway spot for those retreating from the congestion and pace of cities, and many hotels, restaurants and shopping centers are frequented by tourists year-round. A few other fantastic attractions in the region include the Rouen cathedral, the abbey of Jumièges, the island abbey of Mont St. Michel, and medieval Bayeux with its famous tapestry.

The Ardennes & Northern Beaches

Often overlooked by American tourists, this northern region is known for its beach resorts and historic sights. This region, bordering Belgium, features one of the most embattled areas in France, with its best known port, Calais being a contested military stronghold for centuries.

Today’s port is more peaceful, filled with ferries instead of battle ships for tourists to travel along its waters. If you’re interested in historical architecture, try visiting the Notre-Dame Cathedral in Amiens, the medieval capital of Picardy, featuring the highest nave in France at 138 feet high.

Lorraine

Located in the northeast corner of France, Lorraine borders Germany, Belgium, and Luxembourg. While Lorraine is the famous for being the birthplace of Joan of Arc and the countless wars it has experienced, those aren’t the only things that draws students to the region.

The peaks of the Vosges forest is the nearest thing to an extensive wilderness area you’ll find in France and offers pleasant hiking trails for the outdoorsman.

With renowned cuisine — especially the signature foie gras et choucroute (fattened duck or goose liver and sauerkraut) — wines and beers, Lorraine is a hotspot for foodies from all over the world.

Champagne

Champagne offers historical sightseeing like no other region in the country. A significant amount of France’s history is tied with the region’s holy site of Reims, where every French monarch since A.D. 496 has been crowned. Any invader wishing to take Paris would have to first go through Reims and the Champagne district. Even all the way up to World War I, the region has been exposed a large amount of brutal battles.

If you’re a student of age (legal drinking age in France is 18), here’s a fun fact: The 78-mile road from Reims to Vertus, one of the Routes of Champagne, is home to a trio of winegrowing regions that produce 80 percent of the world’s champagne.

Burgundy

If you’re looking for leisurely time off from your studies, head to the Burgundy region of France, which is filled with incredible cuisine – local specialties include dijon mustard, boeuf bourguignon, coq au vin, and wines coveted the world over.

You’ll also find stunning old-world cities, like the capital, Dijon.  Known as the “City of a Hundred Towers”, Dijon  was once the Roman crossroads between the Mediterranean and northern Europe and was home to the mighty Dukes of Burgundy.

If you’re interested in religious history, head to the region’s Fontenay Abbey, where churches, cloisters, dormitories and more have been preserved for centuries. This gives visitors a chance to glimpse into what life was like in a medieval Cistercian abbey.

Wine Regions of Bordeaux

Another area that sees fewer American tourists is the wine regions of Bordeaux. While the area mostly offers flat, fertile land, it is home to towns that were pivotal in French history. Saintes, for example, has noteworthy Gallo-Roman, medieval and classical heritage, making it a popular tourist destination and a member of the French Towns and Lands of Art and History.

Active in wine and liquor production, the area’s villages also produce such celebrated libations such as Cognac, Margaux, St. Emilion and Sauternes. With abundant wine growing areas, varying widely in size and sometimes overlapping, the region is centred around the city of Bordeaux.

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes

Occupying the lower-eastern portion of the country, Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes is a newly-formed region that features the country’s second-largest metropolitan area, Lyon. Just a short, two-hour train ride from Paris, it’s relatively easy to get to the place known as France’s “Second City.”  As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Lyon is known for its historical and architectural landmarks and its role in the history of cinema.

A good time to visit the city is during its famous light festival, Fête des Lumières, occurring every December, allowing Lyon to claim the title “Capital of Lights.” From Lyon, you can travel north to explore through the Rhône Valley toward Provence. Travel south of Lyon and you’ll be able to see medieval villages and ancient Roman ruins in Pérouges and Vienne.

The French Alps

Bordering the Rhône-Alpes and Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur regions, the French Alps offer some of the world’s best skiing. With snowcapped mountains, ancient glaciers and crystal-clear alpine lakes, the French Alps also feature some of the world’s most breathtaking scenery. While the region attracts some of the most affluent people from all over the world, if you’re a student on a budget, we’ve got some good news. Lift ticket prices are a fraction of the price that they are in the United States. Chamonix, a famous ski resort facing Mont Blanc, western Europe’s highest mountain, has one-day passes that range from $47 to $67. If you’re travelling to the French Alps during the summer, you can visit indulgent spa resorts including Evian and the relaxing 19th-century resorts at Lake Geneva.

Provence

Home of the French Alps and bordered by Italy on its eastern side, Provence has often been considered the playground of the rich and famous. With premier destinations like Aix-en-Provence, associated with Hemingway and Cézanne; Arles, the city known as “The Soul of Provence” and captured in a famous painting by Vincent van Gogh; Avignon, the 14th-century capital of Christianity; and Marseille, the country’s third largest city, after Lyon and Paris. The unknown beauties of the region include Nostradamus’s birthplace of St-Rémy-de-Provence and Les Baux de Provence.  Nature enthusiasts will find a myriad of options for hiking and camping.

Côte d’Azur – The French Riviera

The majesty of the Azure Coast makes it a tourist hotspot in the country of France. It’s an affordable option for students who want to travel to its famed beaches and coastal resorts. Nice, the region’s biggest city, is a popular destination for French tourists that want to visit the Mediterranean Sea.

Since the Renaissance, the picturesque surroundings of Nice have attracted not only those beach-goers and sun-bathers, but some of Western culture’s most notable painters like Henri Matisse, Arman and Marc Chagall. Their work is proudly displayed in the city’s many museums, including Musée Marc Chagall, Musée Matisse and Musée des Beaux-Arts.

The Dordogne

The land of delightful foie gras and delectable truffles, found in southwestern France is also home to some of Europe’s oldest settlements. Dordogne offers gourmet eating and wine-tasting, gorgeous chateaux, villages and historic sights, making it one of the most popular vacation destinations in France. In the Périgord, the cave paintings at Les Eyzies have shown traces of Cro-Magnon (first early modern human) settlements.

The Pyrénées

Located along the border with Spain between the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, southwestern France features one of Europe’s most unique cultures. The region’s hidden villages, beach towns, and culinary traditions are ripe for discovery for anyone travelling through France.

Biarritz, on the Atlantic, features some of the best surfing in France. Toulouse, a major city and the regional capital of Occitanie, boasts two UNESCO World Heritage sites — the Canal du Midi and the Basilica of St. Sernin, the largest remaining Romanesque building in Europe and an important stop along the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route.

Throughout the year, millions of Catholics make annual pilgrimages to the City of Lourdes, located on the edge of the Pyrénées. In the small mountain villages and towns, the old folkloric traditions, filled with Spanish influences, are still prevalent.

Have Fun Travelling to the Regions of France!

Crossing these regions off your travel list will give you the chance see everything France has to offer as a cultural and historical destination. There is so much history and culture to learn by visiting the towns, villages and homes of the French people. Now that you know more about these regions and départements, you can pack your bags and plan your travels accordingly.

For students travelling to France, we hope you have a fantastic trip — Bon voyage !

How a Séjour en France Can Change Your Life

Meet our guest blogger, Elise!  We asked her to share her story of French adventures, which all started with a Family Stay as a teenager.

« Douce France                                                                  “Sweet France
Cher pays de mon enfance                                              Dear country of my childhood
Bercée de tendre insouciance                                         Cradled in tender carelessness
Je t’ai gardée dans mon cœur »                                       I have kept you in my heart”

Charles Tenet, 1943

I didn’t actually spend my childhood in France, but in high school I was a Rotary Youth Exchange Student and spent my junior year in a lycée in Brittany, France. Staying with a family was an incredible experience, which I will discuss more in a future blog post, on its own; it also motivated me to study abroad in France, an experience that changed my life.

Like a master key that unlocks all doors, learning French revealed for me cultures and peoples all around the globe. 

French is the official language of 29 countries.  Its romantic overtures have been weaved into music and works of art for centuries. As a language of diplomacy, luxury, love, and fashion, knowing French has considerably broadened my horizons and deepened my understanding of the world around me. At university, I studied Political Science but was interested in expanding the scope of my studies beyond the political status quo in “the West.”

Because I had learned French, I was able to spend 6 months in West Africa analyzing international development in the country of Mali.

I was fortunate to spend several weeks with a club of mothers in the town of Segu where I faced the realities of colonialism and global poverty. Working alongside the mothers, I experienced the triumphs and pitfalls of women’s empowerment projects.

Halloween: l’histoire d’une fête Celte

Sources: france.aulumni.columbia.edu, allofamille.fr; lefigaro.fr; frenchculture.org; tailsofwonders.com

Halloween, l’histoire d’une fête Celte

C’est une fête celte extrêmement ancienne, qui portait le nom de “Samain”. Elle annonçait le début de l’hiver et représentait le moment où le monde surnaturel et le monde rationnel se rejoignaient. Les êtres fantastiques étaient donc tout proches des hommes.

Elle se déroulait à peu près dans la nuit du 31 octobre au 1er novembre – les Celtes utilisaient un calendrier différent du nôtre et dépendant de la lune. Vers le 9e siècle en Europe, cette fête a pris le nom de “All Hallow’s even”, littéralement : “la veille de tous les saints”. C’est de là que vient le nom “Halloween”.

Cette fête était légèrement différente de la fête d’Halloween que nous connaissons aujourd’hui aux États-Unis. Elle n’était pas aussi macabre, même si elle était liée aux êtres surnaturels.

Elle accordait une grande place aux processions d’enfants, qui portaient au bout d’un bâton des lanternes faites dans des cucurbitacées légères. Lors des tournées d’enfants, les gens qui leur ouvraient leur porte leur faisaient des cadeaux, de crainte de la malédiction des enfants. L’ancêtre du “trick or treat“, en somme..


Photo Credit: Meredith Mullins, oh-i-see.com

Pour les enfants, la fête connaît un certain succès en France, notamment en province. Les enfants continuent à se déguiser et à aller frapper aux portes pour demander des bonbons.

Au lieu de dire “Trick or Treat”, on dirait:

  • Des bonbons ou un sort ! = Candies or a spell
  • bêtises ou friandises = Mischief or sweets

Halloween Vocabulary:

  • La Toussaint – All Saints Day
  • Le trente et un octobre – October 31st
  • Un déguisement – A costume
  • Un cimetière – A cemetery
  • Une citrouille – A pumpkin
  • Les araignées – Spiders
  • Les hiboux – Owls
  • Les corbeaux – Crows
  • Des bonbons – Candies
  • Une sorcière – Witch

Sources: week-people.com; paris-friendly.fr; evous.fr

Halloween au Manoir de Paris : S’il y a bien un lieu de la capitale qui se devait de fêter dignement la fête de l’horreur, c’est le Manoir de Paris, dédié aux légendes parisiennes les plus effrayantes. A partir de la mi-octobre, tout le Manoir de Paris passe en mode Halloween. Il s’agit d’un spectacle inédit, dont le niveau de peur est fortement revu à la hausse ! Nouveaux décors, personnages, effets, scènes, sons… le Manoir est totalement changé pendant la période d’Halloween. Préparez-vous à une expérience effrayante et intense !

Ten French words you’ll never pronounce right

(The following list is from Oliver Gee’s article we saw in thelocal.fr….)

French may be beautiful sounding language – but some of those Gallic words can be a real ordeal for us foreigners to pronounce. Our readers have picked out their most unpronounceable French words. How many can you (confidently) say?

We put the shout-out on social media and we were flooded with responses.

We gathered what we thought were the best responses and the toughest words – from beginner level to extremely advanced. And a warning: Number ten is really hard.

Without further ado:

1. Mille-feuille


(If you can’t get your mouth around the word, get it around the cake instead. Photo: Alpha/Flickr)
Fancy some custard slice? Well not if it’s mille-feuille, says Facebook fan Deborah Adams Kutch. “It’s physically impossible for me to pronounce correctly,” she says.

“I have had more than one session with several obliging patisserie ladies trying to teach me, much to their hilarity.”

2. Brouilly


(Welcome to Brouilly itself, with some vineyards in the background. Photo: JaHoVil/Flickr)
Another item that’s top of the unpronounceable list is “Brouilly“, a type of red wine from the area bearing the same name in the Beaujolais region. Lynn Segal on Facebook says: “I don’t drink it anymore because I’ve been laughed at so many times! I can’t figure out how to say the B at the front of the mouth and the R at the back.”

3. Rouen


(Photo: Thomas Hammoudi/Flickr)
Another answer that got people talking was “Rouen“, a town in northern France. Iris Weintraub Lachaud says it’s hard to pronounce “unless you’re a goose”.

But it’s not just us foreigners who think it. Facebook follower Onürb Öhn is a Frenchman who describes himself as “nearly Rouen native” – but he says that the town’s name “is still a mystery for me to pronounce… rouan, wran, roin, roan, rouen”.

4. Bouilloire 

(Photo: Cheryl Harvey/Flickr)
Tweeter Richard Milne says that “without a doubt” the hardest French word to pronounce for him is bouilloire (which means kettle).
“It’s got so many vowels/soft sounds that I sound like somebody is strangling me when I say it,” he says.
5. Pneu

(Photo: Oriolus/Flickr)
Another common response was “pneu“, which means tyre. Ruth Trevanion on Facebook says she “just can’t get to grips with that one at all”. That seems like a pun Ruth, and we salute you for it. But you’re not alone. A number of people said they couldn’t pronounce the word either, with one follower saying it’s the “least French sounding French word” they know.
6. Heureuse

(Photo: Liz West/Flickr)
Yet another common response was “heureuse” (meaning happy). Karen Hermann laments: “It doesn’t sound like a word when I say it, it sounds like I’m trying to speak through a piece of gum stuck in my airway.”
7. Froid

(Photo: Laszlo Ilyes/Flickr)
On Facebook, Shelby Marcus Ocana says the toughest for her is the word “froid” (which means cold). And it sounds as if it’s that pesky rolled r in the middle that’s causing all the problems.
“My kids always crack up when I say “J’ai froid” – they say I pronounce it like “foie” [which means liver].” She then has to endure inevitable series of jokes about foie gras from the little ones, she says.
8. Grenouille

(What a frog would look like if it tried to say grenouille. Photo: Yamanaka Tamaki/Flickr)
This word, which means frog, popped up a lot. In fact, many readers sent in words ending in “ouille”. Jay Fogler on Facebook says the problem with the word grenouille is the complex rolling of the r and the combination of the ou i and ll. Enough to drive you hopping mad!

9. L’eau


(Photo: Gib3102/Flickr)
Catherine Gheribi on Facebook says it’s one of the simplest, yet most important words of all that she gets tangled up on.
“When I say l’eau – no one ever understands what I mean,” she says.
In fact, she says that even when a waiter asks whether she would like water or wine and she responds “L’eau s’il vous plait” – they still look at her blankly.
“I want to shout ‘I DIDN’T SAY DU VIN DID I? – SO IT MUST BE THE OTHER ONE’!!. She says that she’s learned to order ‘une carafe’ now.
10. Serrurerie

Photo: Susan S/Flickr
Brace yourself: The hardest French word to pronounce is the word for locksmith – “serrurerie“. It was the most commonly repeated response. Blogger Polly-Vous Francais even sent us an entire blog entry about the word.
She says: “Forget it. It is not happening. It requires too many mellifluous, throaty French r’s in too short a time frame (…) I find that I’ve barely recuperated from rolling out the first r when the next r and the next r need to come flying out of my tonsils.”

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Remember, when you register your group before June 15, all early registrants dine at the Eiffel Tower for FREE! Plus, they receive a $100 discount off of the program price!

Click here to start creating your 2016 travel program with our new online system. (https://www.vistasineducation.com/contact-us/)

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Vistas In Education est la seule organisation de programmes pour adolescents spécialisée sur une destination : La France. En plus de la découverte touristique et culturelle, un séjour inoubliable dans une famille française attend aussi vos élèves !

L’équipe de VIE à Minneapolis travaille en étroite relation avec notre bureau parisien situé dans le quartier de l’Opéra. De ce fait, VIE garantit des guides certifiés, de bons hôtels, des restaurants authentiques et des visites intéressantes qui correspondent à votre attente.

Copyright © 2015 Vistas In Education, All rights reserved.


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