Remember writing to a pen pal, your very own correspondent? While communication these days is easier and more immediate, having a foreign friend in real life is priceless. Hosting French students is a great way for your students to learn about life in France directly from their French peers.
An established French exchange can be the cornerstone of a strong French program. An exchange can also motivate students to visit France as a capstone to their high school French studies. Summers can be a busy time for students, with summer jobs, college visits, sports and other activities all competing for their free time. An Exchange program during the academic year can be a great way to have more students and their families on board to host!
At VIE, we appreciate the importance of an exchange program running smoothly and understand all the work that goes into organizing an exchange. Some teachers are fortunate enough to already have a connection to another school in France or to have a contact who might be interested in setting up an exchange.
The question is: should you plan this program “DIY”-style or would it be more beneficial to work with an established company to help facilitate this exchange?

Things to take into consideration:

1. Time. Let’s be honest. There’s a TON of work which goes into planning a program. We all know teachers are incredibly busy and this is just one more thing on your plate.
2. Liability.
3. Having French national staff on the ground in France whom you can contact 24/7.
4. Purchasing flights – easier and more flexibility with a travel organization who is able to arrange group contracts.
5. Expertise from a company who has arranged student travel, family stays and exchanges for over 40 years. We know the bus companies, the train schedules, the travel time, hotels, and the thousand other details that go into a smooth trip for school groups in France and the U.S.
6. Safety and Security
7. Visas – We assist with the paperwork as an established company with credibility
8. Year-round support in France for your French partner.
9. Assistance with planning outings in both the US and in France.
10. Insurance

 

VIE is available to assist you in arranging either a one-way exchange or a two-way exchange to foster international understanding and language immersion. Whether you already have an exchange partner or are just starting to consider an exchange for your school, we’re happy to work with you!
A One-Way Exchange offers qualified students an exchange opportunity in a host family and the chance to attend school if in session. The chance for your students to host a French friend can be especially valuable for younger students whose participation on a school French trip is still a few years down the road. As one example, VIE has an established program in Minnesota each February for middle school students to host a peer from France for two weeks. This gives the American students more incentive to continue their French studies and more confidence when they travel to France with their high school.
A Two-Way Exchange involves two schools who take turns hosting one another’s students with host families in their school community. Exchange partners normally spend one to two weeks in each other’s country and can choose to add on additional travel as part of the exchange. This unique program allows participants to share their own culture with their exchange partner, while experiencing school and family life first-hand overseas. Typically, these exchanges will take place every other year.

French students choose to come to the U.S., in part, because they want to improve their English skills, a necessity in a competitive, globalized job market. They are very interested in discovering the American way of life and what school is like for American teenagers. The French school system is more formal and structured than what American students are used to. The French school calendar has three planned breaks of 2 weeks each: Toussaint in late October, Vacances d’hiver in February, and Vacances de printemps in April. These are excellent opportunities for French students to travel and stay with a host family.
The students who choose to come to the U.S. are highly motivated and have looked forward to such an opportunity for years. Beyond improving their English and learning about American culture, French students participate in exchanges to share their knowledge of France with their American family, whether that’s through sharing their taste in music, television, or sports, or by cooking their favorite French food.
Give your students a French perspective!

Useful Links

Ministère de l’éducation nationale, de l’enseignement supérieur et de la recherche : http://www.education.gouv.fr/
French School Supply List for 2016 : http://www.education.gouv.fr/cid90446/liste-des-fournitures-scolaires-pour-la-rentree-2016.html
VIE’s Hosting FAQ : http://www.vistasineducation.com/hosting/4546-2/
VIE’s Family Stay in France: http://www.vistasineducation.com/students/family-stay-faqs/