Five Days in Québec: Taking Students Out of the Classroom to Practice Their French

Born in Italy, Daniela Brollo moved to Columbus in western Georgia to teach Italian and French at St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School, the only preschool-12th-grade Catholic school serving southwestern Georgia. It’s her third year teaching and in order to switch things up, she decided to take her students (a mix of high-schoolers mid-schoolers) on a five day journey to Quebec. Her hope is that the trip will help motivate her students to continue learning and practicing French, outside of the classroom. Among the many activities, she and her students participated in, was the Quebec Winter City Carnival, dog sledding, a visit to the sugar shack and various cultural landmarks including the Château Frontenac and the Notre Dame Basilica. With her rigorous education and lifelong travel, we figured it would be a great idea to set aside some time and pick her brain about how she ensures her students are getting what they need to further their understanding of the French culture.


Rick: Why don’t you start by introducing yourself?

Daniela: My name is Daniel Brollo. I work at St. Anne Pacelli Catholic School. I teach French and Italian.

How many languages do you speak?

I speak three languages: Italian, French, and English.

How do you feel that your travels affect the way you teach in your classroom?

I think traveling with students helps students practice what we learn in class throughout the year. Travelling really helps motivate these kids to continue learning a language outside of the classroom. Allowing them to practice the language outside of class is the best way for them to learn because if not, it comes across as something abstract. But by putting it into practice they can see how they can use this knowledge in the real world. Here in Columbus Georgia, there aren’t many people that speak French and while you can find the French language spoken around the world, it is uncommon for these students to encounter a situation where they will need to speak French. Travelling offers them a chance to practice their French thus boosting their motivation and enthusiasm to speak another language.

So, I assume you encourage them to speak French while visiting Quebec?

Absolutely. That is why we are here.

And do they?

Absolutely. The youngest students don’t speak as much French as the older students since they tend to be a bit shy but they at least try. The older students, however, love every opportunity to speak French.

How has travelling changed your view of life and your perspective of the world?

I love to travel and visit new places and I especially love teaching languages in high school and helping the students open their minds to different cultures, situations, perspectives and learn how to appreciate the differences in these cultures. It’s an eye-opening experience for them and something they will hopefully look back at fondly.


Apart from Quebec, where else have you travelled with your students?

I visited Italy last year with some students who participated in an exchange program in Tuscany. It was a homestay program and living with an Italian family really helped make it easier for students to learn Italian. Learning a new language is always easier when the students are constantly surrounded by that language and don’t always have an option to switch to English. By not always giving them the option to speak their mother tongue, they have no choice but to practice the language they are studying.

If you revisit a city or country, do you stick to the same itinerary or do you prefer to change it?

This year, I actually did change the activities and schedule just in case some students who traveled with me last year would return. Unfortunately none of them were able to travel again but either way, it afforded me the opportunity to see and do more things. Since it is impossible to see everything in a few days, I decided to try something new.

What would you say is the biggest challenge when travelling with students?

I’m not sure how to answer this since I’ve always had great students and I usually don’t have problems with my students. The older students are very mature and always responsible and so I don’t have to tell them twice what to do. The only challenge really is that the younger students tend to prefer different activities and so I have to find a balance of spending time at each destination.

Where would you like to travel next? What is on your bucket list?

I would love to travel to France next year, if possible. A few students asked me if I could take them to China but I don’t think that will work since I don’t teach Chinese (laughs). I told them we should stick to French-speaking cities instead.

What would you say is the biggest highlight of your trip so far?

I would say the Quebec City Winter Carnival. The kids especially loved the first day since they had a chance to participate in many outdoor events and play in the snow. I think they were covered in snow by the end of the first day so I guess I would say, it was the winter activities. We are from the south and in Columbus, we see snow once every four or five years.

What is the biggest culture shock you or your students have experienced visiting Quebec?

Well, me personally not much since Quebec is full of European culture and in many ways, is similar to Europe. For the students, however, I would say what really impressed them the most is the architecture. The buildings here, especially the churches are extremely different than what we see back in Georgia.

How do you prepare for a school trip? Are there materials that you’ve found to be useful when preparing to travel with students?

I like to keep the conversation open and we usually just talk about the trip. In other words, I don’t like to show them photos or videos or anything about the destination because I want them to be surprised. If they see something for the first time, I prefer that they see it in real life, up close and personal. So I really don’t show them anything before they visit.

In your own words, what should be the main goal of any teacher when traveling with students?

Make them appreciate different cultures more than anything else. That’s my intent and I think that is the intent of foreign language classes, to begin with.

What is your motivation for teaching?

I really like my students and I like it when the students are very interested in the subject they are learning. I think that spark and curiosity they have helps motivate me. It helps when they are actually interested in learning new things instead of feeling like they have to. I would say it’s always fun and since I do love the French language, I obviously love teaching it.

Why Prometour? What attracted you to the company?

I was actually recommended to travel with Prometour by the former French teacher. She visited Quebec two years before I started working at St. Anne Pacelli and highly recommended your company.


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