Modern Languages Trips & Exchanges

[ Spanish Exchange ]

Andalucía Trip 2016

On the final day of the October Half Term, a group of fourteen pupils from Years 10 and 11 headed to Granada in Southern Spain for five days of sun-soaked cultural activities and excursions whilst putting into practice all the language they had learned back in the classroom.

Andalucia, 2016     Andalucia, 2016

Granada is one of the most visited cities in Spain with the Alhambra Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, being the highlight of any trip. Andalucia, 2016Described in Spanish poetry as “un conjunto de perla en Esmeraldas” (a pearl set in emeralds), pupils enjoyed an extensive tour around the 13th century palace and gardens, learning about Moorish rule in Al Andalus and how it’s legacy is still reflected in many aspects of Spanish language and culture.

Other excursions included a trip to Málaga for paella making, a tour around the city’s Old Quarter, bowling and shopping in the city centre. Pupils also took part in a bespoke language course at the Interlingua Centre with a teacher who claimed to be Enrique Iglesias’ aunt (!). They perfected the use of the gerund and the imperfect tense and took part in various games, which enhanced their speaking and listening skills.

It was a rewarding and enjoyable trip. Thank you to all the pupils for indulging my penchant for playing Happy Families in the hotel and for their excellent behaviour and to Mr Hernández García for organising and leading “un viaje inolvidable”.

CRH

Paris Trip 2016

Paris, 2016Blundell’s Year 11 Francophiles left for Paris on Wednesday of half-term. The Eurostar took us from St Pancras straight to Gard du Nord, and our ‘Auberge de Jeunesse’ was about a 10-minute walk away, so our location was perfect!

We spent the two mornings at a language school for intensive French lessons on a variety of topics, making sure our speaking was up to scratch for all of the fast-speaking French waiters as well as to help other tourists find their way around! It must be said that not everyone realised immediately that we were English...

We were able to see the majority of the classic sights from the Pompidou Centre to the Eiffel Tower, ticking off the Musée d'Orsay and the Louvre in between. On our final morning, we visited Sacré Coeur where we enjoyed pottering around and watching the famous mime artists before surveying the whole city from its highest point outside the beautiful Basilica.

Paris, 2016     Paris, 2016

We departed midday on the Saturday (with considerably more luggage than we started with!), and left Paris with many memories and a hope to return.

KJW

Christmas Markets of Berlin December 2015

On the last day of the Autumn term, a group of seventeen pupils from years 9 to 11 accompanied by Ms Scott, Mr Lecharpentier and Miss Hall headed to the Christmas markets of Berlin. Berlin - marketThe trip offered the pupils the opportunity to practise the German they have been learning at school whilst also enjoying the famous weihnachtsmarkte and exploring the city’s varied sights and museums. For many pupils it was their first visit to Germany and, armed with a phrasebook and a list of “10 things to look out for in Berlin” they were encouraged by how much they were able to say and understand and how much they learnt about the history and culture of one of Europe’s most vibrant capitals. The benefits of a language-focussed trip are numerous and it was wonderful to see the pupils become more confident and spontaneous in their speaking as the trip progressed.

The first record of a December market in Germany is from the 14th Century when people stocked up on supplies of wood and food ahead of the long winter months. This tradition later spread to other parts of Germany, Austria and Eastern France. Today there are more than 60 markets in Berlin alone selling Christmas tree decorations, winter clothing, snow globes, bratwurst, glühwein, crepes and currywurst to name just a few! Berlin - Brandenburg GateOur visit to Potsdammer Platz was a high point due to the outdoor ice rink where Mr Lecharpentier demonstrated some impressive figure skating.

As well as the Christmas markets, we were lucky enough to explore some of Berlin’s famous sights, starting with a trip to the Brandenburg Gate. We climbed to the top of the Reichstag dome and saw the city landscape by night, visited Checkpoint Charlie, the Berlin Wall Museum and the GDR Museum. Many pupils named the GDR Museum as a highlight of the trip due to an informative tour from a former resident of East Berlin and the quirky, interactive activities on offer: pupils were able to walk into a Stasi interrogation room and prison cell, put on headphones and watch East German television, sit in a Trabant and even vote in a rigged election!

Everyone was impressed with Berlin’s public transport (especially the trams) and discovered a new found passion for the beloved Ampelmännchen – the pedestrian crossing signs in East Berlin which are one of the few features of East Germany to survive today and have become a souvenir item for tourists.

This was the first Blundell’s trip to Berlin for many years and certainly a great success.

Normandy Trip June 2015

Normandy, June 201555 year 8 pupils, accompanied by 5 staff left Blundell's on Thursday 25th June bound for Normandy for another 4 days of adventure, activities and frogs legs! Chateau Beaumont is situated in the countryside near Mayenne, on the Normandy boarder. Normandy, June 2015

We spent our first day in very hot Paris; visiting the Eiffel Tower and enjoying a wonderful open top boat trip along the Seine complete with informative audio guide. We arrived at the Chateau at 6pm and all the pupils got excitedly settled into their dorms. Pre-bed chocolat chaud went down very well!

Saturday began with an early rise to visit the beautiful market town of Laval where the pupils got an opportunity to practise their French. Bags of delicious red cherries were bought, local cheeses and saucisson tasted! The afternoon was spent back at the Chateau were pupils did a range of activities; archery, zip wire, swimming (much appreciated in the scorching heat) and blindfolded obstacle course through the woods (made more 'interesting' by Mr Marshman's accurate water pistol work!). Quick change into "French themed night" attire and into the dining hall to enjoy cuisse de grenouille and escargot.

Sunday was yet another jammed packed day; pupils were treated to a tour of Mont St Michel in the morning followed by a dip in the sea and a bit of sunbathing in Saint Malo! Just what we all needed to feel a little cooler in the heat. Normandy, June 2015The talent show that evening could have given The X Factor a run for its money... not a buzzer in sight as pupils sang (?), danced (?) and strutted their stuff. The staff's contribution (an even funkier version of 'Uptown Funk') composed and arranged by Mr Fisher was ecstatically applauded by the pupils. The excitement of almost getting home was slightly diminished by the announcement of a ferry staff strike at Calais; we had just all got through customs and were about to board! After a night in La Premiere Classe hotel in Paris and a Pizza Hut feast, all pupils had a rude awakening at 2.30am as we headed off at 3am for the port of Caen; with a new ferry booking in hand. Not quite how Tilda Huntingford had expected to spend her birthday but an exciting adventure nevertheless! Almost 24 hours late, a weary set of travellers arrived back at Blundell's. A Year 8 camp no one will forget in a hurry.

I'm sure I speak for each and every pupil when I say that Mr Marshman's relentless enthusiasm, unfailing patience and witticisms in the face of several sans-prévus situations.

KJW

Barcelona Trip March 2015

In March, a group of Y10 and Y11 Spanish pupils headed with the choir to Barcelona to embark on an intensive language course combined with cultural activities, which included supporting their fellow pupils’ impressive concert at Gaudí’s famously unfinished cathedral, La Sagrada Familia.

Barcelona, March 2015The pupils were lucky enough to be enrolled on a bespoke Spanish language course in central Barcelona, tailored to the demands of the IGCSE course. The course, run by experienced native speakers, focussed on speaking skills and authentic communication and all the instruction was given in Spanish, as it is for IGCSE. As well as practising their presentations and general conversation questions, pupils were given guidance on their accents, pronunciation and intonation which also contributes to their overall speaking mark. The IGCSE speaking exam took place in the first week back after the Easter holidays and there is no doubt that the Y11s felt better prepared and more confident following this additional practice. The exposure to native speakers also provided a good preparation for the listening exam, which also took place shortly after the Easter holidays.

Barcelona, March 2015The Y10 pupils also benefitted from undertaking a language course with the Y11s, as the fast paced lessons demonstrated the high the standard required at IGCSE. However, as the course was designed by the language school with their level in mind, pupils were familiar with the majority of the topics covered and were able to show how much Spanish they can already understand, having only been studying the subject since the beginning of Year 9!

When not grappling with verb conjugations, adjectival agreements and the intricacies of ser and estar, pupils were able to relax and enjoy a wide range of sights: Camp Nou and the accompanying FC Barcelona Museum, Las Ramblas, a hike to the monastery in Montserrat, the aquarium and, of course, La Sagrada Familia. Pupils were also interested to see the bilingual nature of Barcelona, with streets signs in both Castillian and Catalan, which introduced to them the current political issues of modern day Spain where an increasingly powerful Catalan Nationalist movement is never far from the front page.

It was an extremely rewarding and enjoyable trip and plans are already underway for a future journey to Spain!

JHG and CRH

Paris Trip October 2014

In October half term, Blundell’s linguists and artists went on a combined Art and Language trip to Paris. We stayed in a brand new, eco-friendly Auberge de Jeunesse in the North of Paris, a short walk away from Gare du Nord.

For the linguists, the first day in Paris consisted of intensive French lessons working on our speaking skills in the morning and in the afternoon with a long Parisian style lunch break in one of the local restaurants in between, where our language skills were put to the test! It gave us an opportunity to practise all the things we had learnt in class in a real context and use the very useful IGCSE role plays!

After the hard work, we went on to see the Arc de Triomphe and walked on the “plus belle avenue du monde”, les Champs Elysées! Then back on the Métro to meet up with the artist and go to the top of the Eiffel Tower. Seeing the lights being switched on while we were there was a truly amazing sight!

The following days involved a lot of walking with the visit of the Musée Rodin, the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d’Orsay and an evening visit of Le Louvre. The trip gave us an insight into the delights of Paris and we returned to Tiverton thinking of our next visit!

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