Explore

*Avant de commencer cette pièce, je voudrais dire que le français n’est pas ma langue maternelle, alors bien que j’étudie et travaille en français et en anglais, il y a probablement plusieurs erreurs. Mais, la seule façon d’améliorer une autre langue est de l’utiliser! Merci!

Pendant l’été vous, comme étudiants du Canada, avez l’occasion d’améliorer vos compétences en français (ou en anglais) en participant dans « Explore ». Ce programme vous donne une expérience immersive dans laquelle vous pourriez recevoir des crédits universitaires. Le meilleur aspect? Tous les coûts sont payés par le gouvernement fédéral du Canada (sauf que le moyen de transport et des excursions).

Pendant le programme, vous devez parler en français tout le temps. Bien que ceci soit difficile la première semaine, vous allez trouver que la langue est plus facile d’apprendre après plusieurs jours d’immersion.

J’ai participé dans « Explore » deux fois : une fois après l’école secondaire et avant que j’aie commencé à Glendon et une deuxième fois l’été passé après ma troisième année de l’université.

Ces deux expériences ont été très différentes, grâce à l’endroit où j’ai étudié et la façon de vivre. Ici, je vais expliquer les positifs et les négatifs de chaque expérience et les raisons pour lesquelles je les aime.

“Explore is a five-week intensive French-immersion bursary program that is offered during the spring or summer for people with any skill level in French…. You will discover another region of Canada while learning French in classes adapted to your language level.”

http://www.myexplore.ca/en/

2013- L’Université Laval à la ville de Québec

L’Université Laval is a large university located less than thirty minutes away from Québec town centre. As a campus, it is self-contained, next to a large mall with everything you need including a large grocery store.

Overall, I’d say I enjoyed this program and the university. However, although it consolidated my french language skills from high school, it was too easy for me as a younger, more nervous student fresh out of high school to hide away and not improve my communication skills.

Positives:

  • you can opt to have cash for food if you live on-campus, rather than a prepaid meal plan
  • great opportunity to have a large university experience
  • very close to beautiful (and historic) old Québec
  • easy to get to- the university offers a shuttle from the airport and there is a train and bus station near by
  • wide variety of students in terms of language level and academic/professional background
  • interesting course structure, with more independence and level-breakdown for students (ie/ linguistic courses and grammar courses can be adjusting for the correct level)
  • wrist-band French competency system separates students into beginner, intermediate and advanced to help native speakers adjust their vocabulary and speed to the students
  • tons of interesting excursions

Negatives:

  • residence living means many students break the “french only” rule
  • larger university size means that it is easier to get lost or avoid communicating with native speakers (can easily fly under-the-radar)
  • especially in the downtown core, people automatically speak to you in english when they hear a non-french accent (less immersive)

2016- Western University à Trois-Pistoles 

This small town barely qualifies as a town. Here, the only option is homestay, you are 30 minutes from the largest town (the lovely Rivière-du-Loup) and you are situated next to the gorgeous St. Lawrence river.

I think it is important to note that I do not believe this program is adequately accessible. The large majority of excursions require you to rent a bike, and if you do not rent a bike you must walk everywhere. The program is run on the assumption that you will pay to rent one while you are there.

Overall, I’d say this program is much more useful for beginners/intermediates in french and is a much more successful immersive experience. That being said, I would not recommend this program to more mature students (at least from my experience in the summer session) as it is clearly geared towards 18/19 year olds in terms of activities and the treatment of students.

Positives:

  • homestays mean you are always accountable for your language participation
  • interaction level is higher due to the size of the program
  • there are many scenic walks- wonderful if you enjoy walking down to the water to read or sketch like me
  • you’ll definitely get fit riding you bike or walking everywhere!
  • one of the most beautiful locations (in my opinion)
  • there is a weekend excursion to Québec City to break up the stay
  • the instructors are very actively involved in the program and are helpful in every way
  • the program is almost a community event- everyone is friendly and talkative and there to help you improve

Negatives:

  • the small town gets smaller the longer you stay (although this may be a positive if you’re not a city person!)
  • levels and classes are less diverse due to the smaller number of students
  • there is a large inconsistency in giving out warnings for non-french language use
  • the website is unclear on this, but 99% of the time you will be sharing a room in your homestay, with cleanliness and amenities varying greatly
  • many activities are mandatory, despite being un-useful or aimed at teenage students

A final piece of advice…

Quand vous achetez votre relevé de notes (transcript), demandez une autre copie pour vous-même, pour l’occasion d’appliquer aux autres universités ou programmes (comme une maîtrise) plus facilement dans l’avenir. Écrivez votre numéro étudiant et autres formes d’identification scolaire et les mettez dans un endroit sûr pour la même raison.

Applications this year (2017) are due February 15.

Bonne chance / good luck!

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