By Joseph Pratt
Twenty-five students from Portsmouth High School’s (PHS) French class, and five teacher chaperones, recently flew to Europe to tour England and France for an eight-day trip. The participating students were students from French II, III or IV classes, and also took extra studies in language outside of the classroom.
The group departed from a Cincinnati airport and landed in England on March 24, where they stayed for two days.
In London, they took a walking tour of the city and saw the Strand, Trafalgar Square, the Globe Theater, Covent Garden, Big Ben, Houses of Parliament, Piccadilly Circus and St. Paul’s Cathedral. The group ate lunch at the Borough Market, experienced the changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace, went to Windsor Castle and went up the London Eye at night. Also, in England, they took a tour of Canterbury and visited Canterbury Cathedral.
Since the group added an extended stay in England, one of the teacher chaperones was Leigh Gowdy, 10th grade English and language arts instructor.
The PHS visitors then traveled to France, where they visited many iconic landmarks and ancient castles for six days, before returning on April 2. They crossed the English Channel via ferry from Dover to Calais.
In France, the group visited various regions of Normandy, including the D-Day beaches, American Cemetery, German Cemetery, Sainte Mère Église, Arromanches, Mont St. Michel and the city of Saint Malo. Other French cities the group traveled to were Chartres, Rouen, Dénan and Paris.
In Chartres, the group took a tour of the Chartres Cathedral, and in Rouen they had a guided tour of the city. They then toured the Chateau de Versailles.
In Paris, they visited Montmartre, the Louvre, the Eiffel Tower, Notre Dame, took a cruise down the river Seine and had an expertly guided tour of the city of Paris.
“The trip offers a new appreciation for the culture and architecture, because Europe is such an older country,” French teacher Julie Sanders-Johnson said. “To see the cathedrals, stained glass windows, castles and things that we don’t see here is a great learning experience. It also gives an appreciation of history and what our soldiers did for us in World War II, since we visited six World War II sites. I believe that the students gained a greater appreciation for what they have learned from their teachers and in the classroom. Now that they have actually visited these historic places, they are not just pages or pictures!”
Using language in daily life is paramount in learning a second language and having it programmed into your brain. This trip gave students the opportunity to harness what French they have learned over the years and use it in a country that is dependent on it.
“This was the trip of a lifetime and to be exposed to an authentic speaking situation is insurmountable to the classroom,” Sanders-Johnson said.
Sanders-Johnson has been organizing these trips since 2002 and has arranged six different trips.
“This trip was a virtual classroom for everyone! Every day there were so many experiences and lessons learned. The students were exposed to different cultures, architecture, art and so much more,” Sanders-Johnson said. “By traveling overseas, they have experienced a very rewarding opportunity to learn interactively and hopefully developed a better appreciation.”
Joseph Pratt can be contacted at the Portsmouth Daily Times 740-353-3101, EXT. 287, or by Twitter at JosephPratt03.