French Immersion Day

During the holidays, Catmose College became a French Secondary School for the day, hosting a language immersion experience due to COVID preventing trips to France. We were greeted in French, and our teachers introduced themselves in the language – some even taking different personas. We were then split, with 3 groups taking on different timetables for the day; challenges spread between music, art, drama, cooking and free time activities. In music, hosted by Madame Leuchars, we studied the famous French slam poet GCM (Grande Corps Malade, AKA Big Sick Body), who after a life-changing accident, became an influential and topical rapper. We listened to his music, and rewrote a chorus in his style – which ended up with some funny results! For drama, hosted by Mademoiselle Hollander, we took on a French script, rehearsing and acting out short scenes for our peers. This allowed us to come into contact with different vocabulary, and step out of our comfort zone speaking the French language – très bien! Art was taught by Madame Chidlow, where we ventured into the Musée-d’Orsay, researching 5 French artists, listening to snippets about their lives and forming our own opinions on their work. We even got to see a real souvenir from the museum – an Ours-Blanc! Each of the lessons were finished with a reward for those who had engaged with the subject – a pain au chocolat.

We spent break time enjoying classic French snacks, namely Orangina and BN biscuits! It was then time to resume lessons. Cooking was taught by Monsieur Coupe – we practiced using French recipes to bake biscuits using biscuit cutters found in France. We were encouraged to speak French freely, and work together to recreate the sweet treats, and then were shown a much more advanced recipe for profiteroles, a renowned French patisserie. We were allowed a free period during the day, which gave us the opportunity to play pétanque – a form of bowls originating from France. We also played French card games, including Happy Families, and a range of board games, available alongside French cartoons, music and calligraphy. In the middle of the day, we enjoyed a well-needed lunch break. The teachers had spent the entirety of Monday preparing a delicious 4-course-meal. For starter, we were invited to try the French delicacy les escargots (snails). While they are an acquired taste, many of the students went back for more. The main course consisted of beef ragout, made with carrots, shallots, bacon lardons, beef (of course) and mushrooms, and was paired with green beans and potatoes. The dessert was a chocolate mousse, and we ate the biscuits we had baked as a group. The meal was finished with 3 French cheeses and baguettes!

Throughout the day, we had 10 quizzes to complete, ranging from cultural knowledge for example about famous French people to questions tailored to each session. The 3 students with the highest accumulative score won Amazon vouchers as a reward for their efforts, along with the 3 students who spoke the most French. The day allowed us to immerse ourselves in French culture, answer questions and talk with peers and practise all the essential aspects of the French language; listening, reading, writing and speaking. We cannot thank the teachers enough, and hope future years enjoy this too!

Sam Wensley and Maisie Diep