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Tips for learning French

Friday, April 11th, 2014

visit groupe ParisThere is no better and more appealing way of learning the French language than as a foreign exchange student in France in one of our Homestay Programs. The opportunity to become immersed in the wonderful French culture, meeting new friends and gaining  first hand experience of new and different points of view is an amazing opportunity of a lifetime.

While enjoying the many exciting events of your educational travel program, meeting your host family, new French pals and sampling the delicious foods, it is an excellent chance to become skilled with the language and pick up much more without any extra demands or hard work at all.

Here are some tips for making the most of your time during your educational program in France.

  • Take every chance to speak the language – not only with your host family but when shopping, sightseeing and out and about. Ask directions, order food and buy tickets. Take a step out of your comfort zone and strike up conversations with locals, being careful to be always be polite and friendly. This will greatly boost your speaking skills.
  • Watch a bit of TV – the fun of watching a popular program in French is a great way to pick up more vocabulary and improve those listening skills.
  • Listen to radio – trying to keep up with the fast paced news and listening to French pop music will give you a boost to improve your understanding of the language.
  • Grab a copy of your favorite magazine in French and your reading will immediately reach new heights.
  • Most importantly, remember to socialize with French friends and not make the mistake of hanging only with your own country mates – be continually open to the great opportunities that your visit can offer.

Since 1957, Nacel’s programs have provided young people with the opportunity to discover new things about themselves and the world around them in safe and fun learning environments.  Contact us for more information!

Planning your School Year Abroad: Nacel’s Checklist – Step 2

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

GET READY

Before considering a school exchange abroad, you need to do a bit of soul searching to answer some essential questions described in more detail in Step 1:

  • Do you speak the language well enough?
  • Are you between 14 and 18?
  • Do you think you can live away from home for several months?

By now, you’ve discussed these with your family and are now researching your options. In this section we cover some key issues you should consider to help you choose and apply for a school exchange.

There is much to learn during a school year abroad, such as how to adapt to new situations, integrate into a new culture, learn a new language and discover a new perspective on life. However, this is not your school and so it’s not business as usual in terms what courses are offered.

Use the following checklist to help you determine which type of program is right for you.

Research your destination
Choose your program, its length and the country you are going to visit!

If you want to learn Spanish, will you go to Spain or South America? Not only is the local culture completely different, but so is the natural environment and of course the accents. Learning Spanish in Spain could be compared to learning English in England, whereas Spanish in Argentina might be compared to English in Australia!

How long do you want to go for? Some schools offer short exchange periods for one term or one semester, while others only accept students for a whole year. If you’ve never traveled without your family before, you may want to try a summer program first, such as a homestay, where you experience living with a family in a foreign culture and find out how well you cope away from family and friends for a few weeks.

Do you need to convalidate? This is a process where you translate the grades and credits you earned during your exchange with the host school, for credit in your high school back home. Convalidation requires that you submit official, signed and sealed school transcripts to receive a seal of validation (apostille) from identified agencies to certify your grades as authentic. You can then provide the grades to your high school for transfer credit.

Do you want to graduate abroad? Some schools offer this option if you are prepared to follow a two-year course of study, such as our A-level programs in England, or by taking 12th grade in the Nacel International School System (NISS), where you can graduate with the American high school diploma and advanced placement courses.

Once you have decided on a program, gather as much information as possible about the school system, courses, grade system etc. … With this information, you can create a simple report of your program abroad, with the classes you expect to take.

Ask your school
You will need your school’s support before the trip and after you return.

Your school counselor can help and advise you about your plan to study abroad. You need to prepare a clear and objective presentation of your study abroad program, to negotiate for transfer credits with your school. You can also speak with your language teacher and try to involve him/her in the procedure, especially if he/she encourages you to study abroad or has a good knowledge of the educational system abroad.

Remember that school’s in most European and Latin American countries follow a fixed curriculum with mandatory subjects. You can’t pick and choose the courses you take, and each country teaches literature, history and geography from its own perspective. Don’t expect to read American literature in Chile!

Add it all up
Work on an overall budget for your trip abroad.

You will need to factor in the following costs:

  • Cost of the program
  • Medical insurance
  • Return flights
  • Trips and excursions
  • Visa and immigrations requirements
  • Pocket money

Apply to the program
Nacel’s school exchange programs are selective.

Before you apply, we organize a phone interview to discuss the program with you and ask you a number of questions to determine whether you have thought through all the points discussed so far, in this article. We also ask to speak with your parents and even with your siblings, to help us understand if your family is ready to see you leave home for an extended period of time; to make sure they will help you through difficult times, while you are away from home, without giving in to the temptation of shipping you home at the first signs of homesickness!

You will then need to fill out the application form, get your school transcripts for the last three years and a recommendation from your language teacher. These will make up your application file that will be presented to your future school principal who has the last say in your grade placement. A good academic average will increase the likelihood that you will be placed in your corresponding grade. This in turn will make it easier to transfer the courses you take into matching credits in your home school.

Congratulations!
You’ve been accepted on the program.

Now the real work begins. In the next article, read how to prepare for your upcoming trip and anticipate the inevitable challenges that you will confront during your time abroad.

Homestay Matchmakers – Your Host Family in France

Thursday, May 2nd, 2013

When we receive a request for a homestay, we delve into resources developed over a long period of time. It’s a matchmaking process that requires information collected and catalogued about the host families who apply to the program, but most of all, that requires human insight and understanding that come from years of experience in matching a child, a teenager or a young adult to the right family.

French Homestay Family with their guest

French homestay family with their guest

Families, in Nacel’s French homestay program, volunteer to welcome a child from another culture into their homes. Very often, they’ve heard about a Nacel homestay from a friend of theirs, or someone in their village. Maybe their own children met the “stranger” who shared their classroom for a few weeks. Word of mouth, spread through the enthusiasm of host families, is a key factor in making the decision to apply.

Once they’ve submitted the application form, the family is contacted by our agents in France to discuss the Nacel homestay program. This first interview, conducted over the telephone, aims to explain the goal of the program and to ensure that the family understands their responsibilities. This screening process identifies the families who are ready to fulfill their role and provide the immersive experience that our participants are coming to enjoy.

The next step is to interview the whole family. This is carried out by Nacel representatives, local to the area, who will visit the home, collect information about each member in the household, including professions, interests and hobbies. An inventory is taken of living arrangements, pets and activities available in the home as well as the local area. One of the most important discussions is towards setting expectations: what to expect of the children and what they expect of the family in return. A full written report is handed back to the Nacel team who decides if the family’s living conditions and motivations are suitable for the program.

And once they’ve been approved, they wait for a match. In 2013, Nacel has over 700 families in the program who trust in our reputation established over 50 years.

In another country, a program applicant is also filling out a form, thinking objectively about what they enjoy doing. A graded response from ‘not at all’ to ‘very much’ identifies the measure of participation in each activity. There’s also the medical information: allergies, illness, vaccines, medication, everything a host family needs to keep their guest safe and healthy.

Students also write a personal letter to the host family in which applicants talk about themselves and choose photographs to showcase what’s important in their life. Their anticipation of the upcoming adventure is clear.

When the application is received, it immediately goes to regional representatives who review individual preferences and identify the families who fit the profile. The top criteria are finding families with children close in age and with similar interests.

Recently, an American mother sending her daughter to Spain on her first homestay, recounted her own youthful homestay experience with Nacel. She spoke of that moment when first introduced to her family, how nervous she was in those few moments waiting to find out who they were. On the way home, she compared her experience with the other participants. It turned out that they all felt the way she did; that “her” family was a perfect match and she couldn’t have wished for anyone else.

Study Abroad Student in Japan Shares her Story on the Quake

Sunday, March 13th, 2011

A study abroad student from Notre Dame, Massiel Gutierrez currently studying at the University of Nanzan tells about her experience during the earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan on Friday.

She said “I was in a second-floor computer lab when I felt like I was coming down with an intense case of vertigo”, “It took someone getting up and looking out the window to realize that it wasn’t just us…”, “it was still about a 4 on the Richter in this area.”

Click here to read more about Massiel’s experience during the earthquake and tsunami.

Longevity and quality are good!

Wednesday, January 5th, 2011

Nacel proposes its services since 1957: language travels have always been appreciated by parents and children. Today we can say that Nacel saw several generations, one after the other. Parents spent good time with those programs, so they want their child to make this type of experience. Indeed, it’s the mean to make them discover a new culture, new horizons. It’s a real chance for everyone. Those programs change the life of the participant. Travel in a completely different country may be an advantage for studies, allow to meet people and determinate for the future.

Here is Francis testimonial! Francis has gone during a month for a language travel in the United States when he was 16: I would like to share with you a little story, mine, which Nacel has played an important role. During the summer 1981, I was 16 years old and I took part in a trip to the USA organised by Nacel. During a month I stayed with an American family from Colorado and even went back the following year. This short time spent abroad linked me to the American culture which had a strong influence on me and the rest of my life. After the “Bac”, I enter the French-American school in Paris. Two years later, I was admitted at the Hartford College. During these studies, I met the one who became my wife. Today, we have two teenagers. I’ve got 45 years old and 80% of my life is the consequence of this simple language travel which, on the moment, bored me.”

This testimonial shows that we should use all opportunities. We can do what we want and go where we want.

Most young people or parents who use Nacel services recommend Nacel to friends or family. Their customers are their best advertisement and they thank them very much for that. Their goal it’s to satisfy them and to supply them with the quality of the service and the assistance they deserve.

Host family and host family: why are they so different?

Thursday, July 22nd, 2010

A “typical” host family with 2 lovely children: that could be what comes to mind when thinking about what a host family is. However, it exists various types of host “families”, generally depending on which kind of program abroad you’re taking part in. This is a crucial factor to take into account when choosing your language course program.

On the one hand, host families participating in the Junior Homestay program welcome a teenager like a new member of their family so that interaction is intensive. They supervise the student and immerse him in their family and daily life.  The family is really eagger to share a lot with the student and learn from his culture too, even if level of integration in the host family life still depends on each host family of course. They can either be a family with children or retired people. In this kind of homestay program, the student does not attend any language course, it’s a pure immersion program generally for juniors during summer holidays.

On the other hand, host families hosting students attending a Language school program offer room and board, it is a mere type of accommodation. Students of this language school program are usually young adults and must be quite autonomous, since this kind of host family is not asked to organize activities for and with the student. Students organize then their leisure time freely, go to school to attend language courses and participate in optional activities. They go back “home” to have a rest, to study, to have their meals and to sleep…

In this kind of program, students usually do not spend so much time in the host family during the day and prefer staying with their schoolmates or visit the town. In opposition to host families for homestay programs, there might be no intensive interaction with the members of the host family and it may mainly deals with daily issues and daily conversation. These host families can either be a family with or without children, a single-parent family, retired people, a woman living alone…

Now that you know the main differences between host families hosting students for Junior Homestay programs and host families for Language school programs, you’re ready to go abroad!

How to deal with culture shock when going abroad

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Three weeks ago we talked about “culture shock” and tried to understand better what it deals with. Here are some advices to make the culture shock less important and the recovery easier when going abroad.1) Cultural relativism: focus on the idea that no one culture is “right” or “wrong”. So don’t use your own standards to compare and judge other cultures with, but try to understand why the way of doing of the other culture differs from yours, and vice versa.

2) Get prepared: learn the language! Culture and language use are strongly linked. This will give you not only some control in the new culture once you get there, but also the opportunity to meet people and socialise. Making friends as soon as you can is important. Don’t forget to find out about food, customs and so on before you go, not to be unpleasantly surprised or even shocked.

3) Work on yourself: raise your self-awareness and listen to yourself! Be observant on what’s going on around you, and try to notice behavioral differences. Try not to lose your temper, keep your sense of humor and reserve judgement when you get frustrated.

4) Be sensitive, open and tolerant: when something goes wrong take a new look at yourself, try to understand if you might have done it the “wrong way” within the other culture. Don’t dismiss things you don’t know about. On the contrary, try to put yourself in the shoes of the other culture to better understand how their world is and why.

5) Be social and extrovert: even if you tend to be shy, adopt a new identity and be the person you’ve always dreamed to be. Forget stereotypes! You blind yourself to all the other charateristics peculiar to the other culture when you focus on stereotypes.

Some situations to avoid!

A common reaction to difference is seeking things you are acquainted with. This is part of the critical stage 2 in cultural shock process: you tend to over-idealise your own culture and as a result, to make the gap between both cultures become more important! So be careful, this generally leads to super ethno-centric moaning situations in which you tend to downgrade the benefits of your host culture. Don’t forget that the main objective when going abroad is not to entirely replicate your home country, do you think it would be worth going in a foreign country then? ;)

In a nutshell

Enjoy differences! See the positive side of this experience, and make the decision to adapt your habits and behaviour by changing them a little bit to better match the culture you’re in. You will be surprised on how fast things will pleasantly evolve. People will apreciate the effort you make, and you’ll enjoy a lot this unique and rewarding experience!

Have you ever experienced cultural shock? What happened and how did you cope with it? Tell us about it!

Not feeling good abroad? Moody, anxious, down in the dumps? You might experience culture shock!

Friday, June 4th, 2010

Going abroad and leaving your country, the one you’ve grown up in, your culture and traditions… that’s not easy for anyone. You can even quickly feel homesickness, due to what’s called “culture shock”. This mainly happens in a case of a long stay (several months) in a different culture. Culture shock has been divided up into a process of 5 main different phases. Let’s see them with Rebecca Fong, a teacher of intercultural communication at the University of the West of England.


1. Euphoria or exhilaration

This phase is also called “the honeymoon period”. It usually takes from a few weeks to a few months depending on your personnality and the cultural distance, that’s to say how different both cultures are. Everything is new and great, you see it as an exciting experience and you tackle your problems with good humour. Actually you’re too busy to get depressed.

2. You realise that you’re an outsider

You start to experience the differences between both cultures and to face some problems: trafic problems, you don’t like the typical food there… Even if people are pretty kind to you, you just feel like you’re a misunderstood person. This is a critical stage because you begin to over-idealise your own culture and make the gap between both cultures become more important. Lots of people give up at this stage after having suffered it for a while.

3. Recovery and acculturation

This is the learning process, your language skills definitely improve and, as a result, your contact with the culture also improves and you integrate better with it. You also make more efforts to be part of the community, making friends and being interested in typical manners and customs of the country. You’re on the right track to recover from your culture shock! However, in this stage, you might still want to impose your own ideas rather than accepting the one of the host culture…

4. You adjust properly and appreciate the other culture

You really start to understand the norms and values of your host culture for what they are, and feel pretty integrated and comfortable with it. You might even believe that some of your host culture’s values are better than your own! =)

5. Going back home

Going back home can be quite a challenge too. Indeed, you might face some difficulty to re-adapt to your own culture after a long period spent abroad!  This might be considered as re-acculturation or re-entry shock.  But don’t despair, as Rebecca Fong says; “there is a light at the end of the tunnel, and the more times you experience culture shock, the easier it’s going to get.” (get more information about Rebecca Fong’s studies on culture)

Now that you know this 5-stage-process better, we’ll give you some advices on how to deal with culture shock when going abroad, how to acculturate and adjust properly to the other culture, making the culture shock less important and the recovery easier! In the meanwhile, you can have a look at these useful advices for students going abroad. See you next week!

You don’t know what to do this summer? Learn French while practising sports in a great summer camp in France!

Friday, April 30th, 2010

You want to impove your French skills but don’t know what to do… Well, there are so many different ways to learn French in France like we’ve seen in the previous articles! But if you like practising sports and if you have free time in July or in August, then the French and sports summer camp in France is definitely made for you… Let’s mix study with pleasure!

Nacel Summer Camps in France are incredibly popular! It seems indeed that summer camps organized by Nacel, a well-known language travel agency that has been existing for more than 50 years now, have a big success within young people! Bookings for these programs don’t stop to increase year after year… and many of the sports camps are already full!

What are the keys of this awesome success?

Sports camps in France are organized in Vichy since several years now! Their success comes mainly from word of mouth, since students who take part to the summer camps even advise their schoolmates to book a place in the same program! It seems that former participants are very enthusiastic about the fact that sports summer camps in Vichy combine French language courses and sports activities. Indeed, many different sports are available such as Tennis, Basketball, Soccer and even Rugby and Golf! Some of these camps are really popular and get full very quickly.

Here is Pablo’s testimonial, a 16 year-old Spanish boy who took part in the program: “I enjoyed the experience very much and it was great that everybody at the camp was so friendly and helpful to us. It was a very enjoyable way to learn French. Thank you.”

The students who take part in the summer camp in France mainly come from English-speaking or Spanish-speaking countries. This kind of French and sports summer camps enables them to improve their French skills while having fun through sport! They also enjoy sharing a lot with the French-speaking chaperones who supervise them during the sport activities. Many times chaperones are professional sportsmen or women.

Even if most of the camps are full, I advise you to book the last available places of the Sports and French summer camp in France if you want to make  a lot of friends from everywhere and spend an unforgettable summer!

Have a look at what is still available!

>> Tennis + French:

July 29th – August 11th: 2 places

August 12th – August 25th: 1 place

>> Basketball + French

July 1st – July 14th: 2 places

July 15th – July 28th: 2 places

July 29th – August 11th: 2 places

>> Multisports + French

July 1st – July 14th: 1 place

July 15th – July 28th: 3 places

August 12th – August 25th: 8 places

>> Football + French

July 15th – July 28th: 3 places

August 12th – August 25th: 5 places

Get further information about this French and sports summer camp in France and book your program now! Be sure you’ll enjoy the variety of the camps!

Learn French and get immersed in French culture while discovering Paris!

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

Does a program combining French lessons, homestay in a French speaking family and discovery of Paris through activities exist? Yes, it does. Discover the Summer Language Camp in France

If you want to make new friends from all over the world and to improve your French level dramatically in less than one month while enjoying Paris, then this program is for you!

1) Language courses in your tutor’s home: you will attend some French lessons with 3 or 4 other teens from different nationalities in the morning. All the group has more or less the same level in French, so that tutor will adapt his teaching to you.

2) Activities: visits, excursions… discover the area of Paris and the French culture in the afternoon! It will give you the opportunity to use what you’ve been learning in the morning!

3) Homestay in a French host family: you spend the evening and the week ends in a welcoming French-speaking host family. This family can welcome more than a student, often from a different culture from yours, so enjoy!

Don’t want to attend French lessons but prefer sharing the daily-life of a host family and getting fully immersed? Read more about the French Homestay in France!

Interested in studying abroad? Let’s go to Canada!

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Combining secondary school studies and homestay in an English speaking or French speaking host family… it’s the best way to dramatically improve your English and/or French language skills, don’t you think?! Maybe you should consider enrolling in an Academic Year in Canada… 

Canada is not only famous for its natural scenic beauty and wonderful landscapes, but also for its ethnic diversity and warm-welcoming people. Just enjoy the video!

Maybe one of the greatest experiences of YOUR life? Improve your English with an English Academic Year! Or your French with a French Academic Year! And why not both at a time with a Mixed Academic Year?! Come on!!!

Host Family in Germany: General Advices to Get Along with your German Host Family

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

Here is some advice about life in Germany, especially in a German host family.

Inform the family
Inform the family and tell the members when you will be at home, when you need to wake up… so that they won’t be worried.
If you want to rest, tell the family that you are going to your room: don’t isolate  yourself without advising your family. They could think you are feeling bad in their home.

Be thoughtful
A little present, like flowers for your hostess or a round of ices for the family, will show your hosts that you are generous. Your gift will be highly appreciated.

Be open to German activities
If your host family offers you to participate in activities, accept! If you say no because you are too shy to say yes, your family may take your “no” seriously. So say yes if you want to do something. Bring with you some clothes adapted to sports since German people love sports. Bring also clothes adapted to rain!

Children
If there are children in your host family, try to spend time with them. Try to communicate with them, but never reprimand the children.

Open up

Bring pictures of your family, home town… so you will be able to speak about your life home to your German host family. They will be very interested in discovering your life.

Always be polite
Always be polite with your host family. Don’t forget to say “Bitte” and “Danke” when you ask for something.

Vocabulary
When you try to communicate with your German host family, try not to use expressions that could be misunderstood. Instead of expressing things from a negative side (Ich will nicht, Ich mag nicht, etc.), try to use positive expressions (ich möchte lieber, es würde mir gefallen…).

Food

Try to taste everything your family offers you. Don’t do comparison and always congratulate your hostess.
Breakfast is really important in Germany: don’t neglect it!
If you want to cook a meal from your country, ask to your German host family their authorization, as well as how do electronics work.

We hope these advices have been useful!
Share your German experience with us!