Summer Study Abroad Program 2011 in Canada
A group of LSU Eunice students and language professor Dr. Olivier Chatelain participated in the university's first Study Abroad French Immersion in the Francophone city of Montreal, Canada, this summer.
The students arrived in Montreal, Quebec in early July and took possession of their individual apartments in the St. Cathy's luxury student residence in the heart of the city. They met with fellow students from McGill, Concordia and UQUAM universities who lodged in the same residence building.
For the remaining month, the students attended three hours of class every morning, took an exam every Friday and completed a comprehensive final exam at the end of the course.
The first weekend was spent by the students getting acquainted with the city and its public Metro transportation which they took to their first French class on the Plateau du Mont Royal neighborhood. Chatelain, the organizer and founder of the LSU Eunice Study Abroad Program, greeted the students at the immersion class, where they signed the contract/pledge to speak only French for the next four weeks.
Students spent the mornings in French class and in the afternoons, they were assigned cultural activities in French that were discussed in class the following morning.
As part of the cultural activities, they took a tour in a double-decker bus of the city of Montreal, visited old Montreal with a tour of the City Hall and Cathedral Notre Dame, shopped along Boulevard St Denis, and spent an afternoon at the beach in the Park Jean Drapeau on Island St. Helene.
The group also visited the underground city and the third largest North American city of the dead at Cemetery Notre Dame on Mont Royal; the Red Path Museum at McGill University (the Canadian Harvard); the Montreal's Fine Art Museum and a special exhibit by French Fashion designer Jean-Paul Gauthier; the biosphere, an architectural structure offered by the United-States to the city of Montreal for the International Exhibition of 1967 and converted today in an environmental museum; the Oratory St Joseph; the Lachine Museum, a 400 years old and oldest construction on the island of Montreal devoted to early life in the settlement; and they took a cruise on the St Laurent River aboard cruise ship "Cavalier Maxim".
During the evenings, they lived a lifestyle similar to other Canadian and international students. They did their grocery shopping and cooked in the common kitchen of the residence hall. They went to festivals, ate at fine restaurants, caught a show at the cinema, and rode bicycles around the city with their Bixi Bicycle passes.
The last weekend before returning to Louisiana, The LSU Eunice students were invited to a French Quebecquoise family reunion, where they were able to practice their language skills and socialized with the family members. The students commented that the Quebecquoise family reunion was very similar to the family reunions existing in Southwestern Louisiana.
The understanding and oral level of French of the LSU Eunice Students participating in the French Immersion Study Abroad Program went from non or limited comprehension on day one of the immersion, to understanding of the language when spoken at regular pace with a good capacity to answer in French. Chatelain noted that his students can now hold conversations in French and talk with their Louisiana French speaking relatives.
"This unique experience had been perceived as intellectually broadening and life changing for the students," said Chatelain. "Some of them have already expressed a desire to participate in the university's Summer Study Abroad Program 2012 that will take place during June 2012 in Montreal and July 2012 in France."
The French Immersion Study Abroad Program is listed as French 2300 in the academic catalog and is a four credit course.