GHS French students beginning outdoor adventure in Quebec City
GREENFIELD — A group of French students from Greenfield High School will spend their vacation this week tobogganing, dog sledding, snow shoeing and exploring the cobblestone streets of Quebec City.
Teacher Tamara Grogan will lead 17 students and another adult chaperone on a four-day excursion to Quebec, beginning today. It’s a chance for her students to practice their French and explore their neighbor country to the north.
In a time when interest in learning French is dwindling (enrollment went from 106 last year to 69, in part because both eighth-grade and advanced placement classes were cut from the curriculum), Grogan feels it’s essential for New England schools to continue teaching the language.
“In this community, there are so many people who still have ties to French-speaking Canada,” she said. “You can get in the car and drive to Montreal and be there in under five hours and it’s the second largest French-speaking city in the world.”
Some of the students on the trip are seniors who aren’t taking a class this year but still wanted to participate. And junior William Borcy, whose father came from France, has been speaking the language his entire life.
But for others, it’s their first year learning the language and their first trip outside of the United States. Students have spent time brushing up on key phrases — like “Ou sont les toilettes?” (Where is the bathroom?) and “Est-ce que tu parles anglais?” (Do you speak English?)
Grogan, who has organized four trips to Canada and four trips to France, likes the Quebec trip because it’s cheaper than traveling to Europe. A trip to France costs about $2,400 per student, while this one cost $860 — before students brought down the price by a few hundred dollars through fundraisers.
Students will be traveling with the Immersion Tours company and spending four days in Quebec City, one of the oldest cities in North America. Grogan likes taking students there because, unlike Montreal where residents are comfortable with English, students will be forced to speak French more often.
And since they’ll be spending most of their days doing outdoor activities, Grogan collected five bags full of warm clothes (like hats, gloves, coats and boots) for students to bring with them on the trip.