Melissa Man case study
My last trip to France with Halsbury work experience was one of the best I've been on. I spent a week in Nancy in the North East of France working at a men's high end clothing shop, and not only did I enjoy every day working there, but I also finally got a chance to put my French skills into practice, learnt about their culture and had a great time too.
At first I was nervous at the thought of having to speak French for a whole week with people who spoke it fluently as a first language, however from the first day I ended up not wanting to speak English! My placement was just a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and I passed many shops and restaurants on the way there as the area was really interesting, so I had no problem deciding what to do on my 2 hour lunch break! The people I worked with were lovely and encouraged me to speak as much French as possible, not only helping me improve, but they also taught me informal speech and phrases they use so I had more of an idea of how people really spoke in France! It was very different and much more laid back than speaking in the classroom, where you are subjected to what you have to talk about, as it was general conversations with not only the people I worked with, but also the customers. Speaking with people I didn't know was not as intimidating as I had thought, and it had helped me develop my confidence in speaking French greatly.
I started work at 10am every day until 7pm, with a 2 hour lunch break in between, and my work mainly consisted of helping to organise stock, labelling clothes and addressing customers. I also had a chance to go out shopping, to restaurants and to generally socialize as group activities were organised by the group leaders. Towards the end of the week I was confident enough to order food in restaurants and speak to shop assistants in French, after being nervous to do so at the beginning, and found that if anything they were happy and understood I was making an effort to learn their language.
All in all it was a great experience and I recommend it to anyone studying French, as it's an opportunity to learn about the culture and language in a way that you wouldn't be able to in the classroom. I can honestly say it's the most useful and enjoyable way to learn a language.