MINISTERE DE LA JEUNESSE DE L'EDUCATION NATIONALE ET DE LA
Inspection générale-Groupe des Langues vivantes
Délégation aux relations internationales et à la coopération
Language Colleges ( England) and Sections Européennes ( France)
London, January 17th 2003
"Friendship is a disinterested commerce between equals"
Oliver Goldsmith ( 1728-1774)
A few facts :
- first " wave" : 32 schools involved on each side
first conference in Paris : January 18th 2001
- second " wave": 33 schools involved on each side
second conference in London : January 17th 2002
-the majority of schools were committed to making the project a success and have been working
hard to overcome the initial difficulties.
They still show determination to make the most of the partnership.
On the whole, it is a success. Despite some initial difficulties
Main obstacles :
- on the human level :
The head of department in English school has not an exact counterpart in the professeur
coordinateur in French schools.
The whole burden of the partnership relies quite often on the goodwill of an individual
There is strong need to develop team spirit and have other teachers in the school share some
However, on the whole, great capacity of both teachers and students to cope with the
differences ( be they cultural or personal) of the partner. Those differences are very often said to be
a bonus as they force partners into being more inventive, more tolerant, more self critical. They lead
to an awareness of cultural and individual differences which is part of the project as far as
"education" is concerned.
- structural problems :
matching ( mis-matching) problems : different ages of students, different aims on the
teachers' side, lack of involvement of the Heads of the schools ( their lack of support can emphasize
discontinuity : French teachers do not have the same class over two consecutive years
different dates of vacation ( hence : loss of time)
different dates of exams at the end of the year
- technical hurdles :
different technical capacities ( video conferencing is not as widespread in French schools as
it is in English ones)
regular problems with computer hardware, Internet Access, not to mention simple problems
with the post, lost packages.
technical details still need to be cleared up. Yet, the need to communicate abroad can boost
up equipment too.
The concept of the " project":
- general agreement on the fact that private/individual letters are irrelevant as they cannot be
used in the classroom and create division rather than cooperation
though: having a collective E-mail address is fine
- general consensus on the fact that there must be a project to work on as a group
scale of the project : it is generally admitted that a small project involving just one class is
the best course
- project contents : on towns, festivals, historical events, debates about the monarchy, music,
films, sciences, geography, the environment.
All topics enabling comparisons within a concrete and realistic field of research
Common topics are fruitful too as they integrate exchange of material but also the dimension
of time and research
Lists of topics established right from the beginning help teachers to pair the students
according to their interests ( and can be linked on the French side with TPE or IDD)
Topics should not be imposed on students but chosen by them ( psychological factor)
- of material:
- material is regularly exchanged according to a strict agenda ( which must be realistic too).
A lot of information is exchanged about cultural stereotypes and helps them move towards a
better understanding of each other
- videos : filmed lessons that can be used as teaching material
- various brochures, leaflets.
- photos of students ( digital photos as attachments), places.
- of teachers :
- teachers' E mail correspondence to build the project
- teacher's material
- teachers' assessment of their students' expectations or assessment, sometimes difficulties
in communicating or disappointment.
This can be used as a means to regulate the partnership as far as human relationships are
- " physical" exchanges :
- meeting of teachers has started with a few schools : preparatory visits of the coordinators,
planning, scheduling, exchanging ideas, meeting the partner to increase mutual understanding
- some meeting of students too, whenever financial help is provided by the schools, school
associations, local authorities, regions
Physical exchanges are not a prerequisite in the setting up of a partnership though.
- opening up to another foreign country broadens the mind and erases geographical and mental
- new technologies extend visions and make it possible to travel abroad
- mobility is encouraged among our students who are gradually becoming citizens of the world
- education systems play their part through partnerships such as ours in making students more
sociable, more flexible, more able to adapt to a changing world
- incorporating another " european" partner, in Germany or Spain, has already been done by a few
schools and thus they foster the awareness of a european culture
Prospects for the future:
- schools are now keen and ready to make up for the shortcomings of the preceding starting year
- they will work jointly on their shared experience to improve relationships : projects are in their
infancy and ready to grow
- the initial conference was a success in launching the project and it is admitted that a once-a-year-
conference is a must
The joint projects, once started, prove very positive to establish a culture of cooperation, exchange,
tolerance and mutual understanding.
There is shared confidence that once the foundations are established, progress will be quicker and
more colleagues will be encouraged to join in.
The whole process is already constructive in language learning but also confidence building and
We are very grateful to teachers for the amount of will, determination, confidence and energy they
have already put on the project. We are much impressed by what they have already accomplished.
On our side, we'll carry on providing the help of the institution we represent to extend the
partnership as we are fully convinced we are working together in the right direction: towards
foreign partners who are our neighbours and becoming our friends .
" The only reward of virtue is virtue; the only way to have a friend is to be one"
Ralph Waldo Emerson, Conduct of Life
Mireille Golaszewski, inspecteur général d'anglais, Ministère de l'Education Nationale
Renaud Sauvage, Bureau Europe et ouvertures internationales à la DRIC