French exchange group in front of Eiffel Tower

Teacher’s Perspective: School Exchange

For French and Spanish teacher Ryan Q., traveling to France on a high school group exchange was the initial spark that ignited his life-long passion for exploring languages and cultures.

Now, 20 years later, Ryan is paying it forward by taking his own students on the same group exchange to Rennes that he participated in as a student.

We sat down with Ryan to learn what it’s like participating in an exchange as a former-participant-turned chaperone.

Why do you believe this exchange is such a valuable experience for your students?

Exchanges offer students a much higher level of comprehension and language immersion. We want our students to live in the culture and put their language skills into immediate use as soon as they get here. We make clear to our students that this is not a vacation, it is just like schoolwork but more enjoyable.

French teacher from Massachusetts on bike tour of Paris with his students.

For students on the fence about participating in a group exchange, what do you tell them?

I can´t think of a single student in the past who has ever regretted doing an exchange, mainly because they see so many things, get to live in a different place, and build relationships with their French exchange partners. Many of them tell me at the end of the experience that this is life-changing for them.

Ryan and his students in Paris during their spring French exchange trip.

What are the benefits of organizing an exchange with a company?

It gives us a lot of flexibility. If there are any cancellations or unexpected issues, our Tour Manager, Monia, is always able to respond appropriately to our needs. Monia has taken us everywhere and is vigilant in keeping track of the students especially in busy situations like the metro. She knows an incredible amount about this city and has helped us as teachers. When our students are more low energy, she is great about switching things around, even last minute, to accommodate us.

High School French Exchange in Paris

What factors do you suggest teachers consider when choosing a tour company like Forum?

Forum gives us the best peace of mind, they are always willing to work with us, their availability is great, and they always keep good records, so we don’t have to keep repeating what we do every year. They also have done a great job in handling difficult situations, like when our flights were cancelled due to weather.