Culture Connection

As a French teacher in a majority-English region of Canada it is often very difficult to find opportunities to practice and learn French. I have managed to visit Quebec City to participate in a teacher bursary program through the University of British Columbia (UBC), and I have studied in Montréal as part of an M.Ed. program of UBC. I have also found opportunities to volunteer at a guest house in Normandy, France. Each of these trips have provided me with both formal and informal practice of my French.

Beyond the spontaneous use of French, they afford me opportunities to ask questions about culture and daily practices. In Québec, I have been able to as French Canadians how they feel living in a bilingual country like Canada, do they see Canada through this lens, or do the efforts to preserve language and culture change how they view Canada. I have found that Québécois and Québécoises are often surprised that an Anglophone from Western Canada is curious about such things and wanting to learn more. I value their answers to my questions and the extras they provide me with.

In France, I am often asked about stereotypes of Canadians. I enjoy sharing what British Columbia is like, how I live and the differences I notice between British Columbia and Normandy. Here is where I see the more noticeable cultural differences. From la bise to drinking morning coffee from a bowl, and hugs to coffee mugs there is an energy in the conversations. As well, new friends are made. Through these connections, and with the bonus that Zoom provides, my classes can have virtual conversations with native French speakers during the school year.

I am always looking for other French teachers with whom to connect. I have been able to connect with French teachers through Facebook pages and have been able to have flip grid video exchanges, I’ve connected with French speaking businesses and had interviews via Zoom with my classes. The sky is the limit if you are able to put the time in to find resources.

I’m happy to help with ideas and /or make connections for my classes with other classes. Reach out. Let’s make some plans!

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