Our current 'English Immersion' student is a very serious,intelligent, hyper-active, young Parisian from a middle class family.
Well educated, with a good grasp of grammar and English vocabulary, but little motivation to actually speak. Coming from a family of mathematicians, engineers and scientists we find the conversations have to be formulaic and topic based.But today we saw a different person when he was taken outside his 'comfort zone' and had to rapidly learn new practical skills.
We visited Jublains, a Roman fort and surrounding town, to watch what we thought was to be a demonstration of Roman music .We ended up sitting on straw bales each making a real set of Pan Pipes from wild bamboo canes. Forget the Health & Safety; hacksaw blades, files, sail makers needles and hot wax, but this is where France wins out
The expectation is that children & young people, will take responsibility. So, our young guest applied himself and completed the task admirably and made some splendid Pan Pipes. As a musician himself he was fascinated with the notes & the practicality and forgot about his uncertainty of talking. Meanwhile we watched as the French teenagers struggled with physical skills that their English counterparts would have found relatively easy.
Strange, less skill knowledge, but more responsibility.
Home again and little by little we see the curiosity & intelligence of the young man overcoming the reluctance and disinterest of the teenager.The contradictions & anomalies of the learning process and culture in France continue , but some things, 'adolesence', are the same the world over