Thanks to the Principal’s Go Abroad fund I was able to travel to the Loire valley in France to help at an English Library in the local town of Lunay. I was living just outside the town on an estate of unfathomable beauty. Surrounded by forest and tucked away in the middle of nowhere there was a sense of calm that permeated the whole environment. Particularly during the evenings the sky would turn from clear sky blue to shades of delicious pink that would grow more and more intense as the hours went by. Deer would bound across the adjacent field whilst the birds would skim across the lake. It was nothing short of picturesque.
Despite the fact that I was not as heavily involved with the teaching of English as I hoped to be I was still able to learn a lot from the culture of a small French town. The sense of community was extremely strong which came to a climax at the annual town fair named “The Fair of the Plum Tart”. Everyone seemed to know each other and the town just felt very relaxed. I was slightly hesitant that a stranger in their midst, particularly someone who only has moderately good French, might alienate me slightly, however this was not the case at all. In fact, many of the locals were extremely keen to speak to me in English so as they could improve theirs.
Perhaps the most rewarding experience of my trip was helping a local 16 year old student gain confidence when speaking English. It was clear that he was very intelligent and had a great understanding of the language however as soon as he was asked to speak it he would immediately retreat into his shell. I spent 4 hours a day with him for 2 weeks and by the end he was more than happy to not only reply to questions posed to him but actually strike up conversations himself.