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French Exchange- top tips please!

(17 Posts)
Ollycat Sat 13-May-17 09:35:59

Ds's French Exchange student arrives next week (they are Year 9). This is our first exchange- ds will go to France in about a month.

We are all very nervous- can you share your top tips for exchange success please? I'm in the process of removing all the clutter from our spare room so that hopefully it will seem like a welcoming bedroom as opposed to a dumping ground for stuff we don't know what to do with!

OP’s posts: |
nothruroad Sat 13-May-17 10:16:09

I run a French exchange and there are a few things that I would watch out for. Remember your DS and his partner might both need a bit of chill out time on their own. Watching a film is quite good for this, you can stop interacting but not look rude.
We've found that generally French teens are more rigid about mealtimes and eat far fewer snacks than our pupils. We've had a couple of issues with partners complaining they weren't fed lunch at the weekend. When we investigated it turned out they had turned down brunch at 11am fully expecting a full lunch at 12 or 1. Our parents tend to tell the partners to help themselves to anything in cupboards or fridge but they are really reluctant to do so.
We encourage our pupils to meet up with friends who also have partners as much as possible for the first couple of days. Yes, they tend to split into French / British groups but it's less intense and by the middle of the week it's usually lots easier to spend time alone.
Finally if your DS hasn't been in touch on social media yet then definitely encourage this. It's much less nerve wracking for the partner to arrive somewhere they feel they already know through Snapchat!
Bonne chance!

Leeds2 Sat 13-May-17 11:22:57

Try and do some typical English (or Scottish, Welsh or Irish, depending on where you live!) meals for the boy.
Try and have something planned for the weekends, to at least break the day up. When my DD's Spanish exchange was here, about ten families met up with their exchanges on both Saturday and Sunday. Spent Saturday in London shopping, bus tour etc and in the evening went to the theatre. On Sunday, we all met up at Leeds Castle. Probably wasn't as good for learning English as they were with their Spanish friends, but we did try to make them speak English all the time!
Try and have some things in mind that the DC can do in the evening. Board games, washing the car, going to pick something up from the supermarket for you, going swimming etc. I think they find it easier to talk if they are actually doing something.

Ollycat Sat 13-May-17 22:26:09

Thank you both really useful pointers.

We've got something arranged for the evening they arrive and various things on other evenings- parties, BBQ type things and they have a joint French / English day out with school on one day including theatre. Saturday the majority of them are going on a big day out together to a theme park so they should be kept

Trying to figure out what to make him for packed lunches - I'm guessing sliced white bread won't go down too well!

Now need to do some meal planning.

OP’s posts: |
nothruroad Sat 13-May-17 22:38:16

We tell our parents to make a HUGE packed lunch. French teens eat a lot at lunchtime. When we go to France we get about 3-4 times more than I'd normally eat in our packed lunches.

swingofthings Sun 14-May-17 06:38:20

At the same time, they might not be big eaters or not traditional. I would think the best thing to do is ask them. They are coming to speak English and learn about custom, so I would think explaining what the hours for meal are more commonly in the UK, but what normally goes in a lunchbox and then say that if it's not enough, you are happy to add anything, that's the best way to do both.

I was a French exchange student once upon a very long time away! It was actually adapting to the local customs that I loved. The family I stayed with was wonderful because they made me feel like I was just another sibling in the family not an exchange.

Just one more thing, do consider that they might be the type of person who might need some time for themselves. If that's the case, it might not be that they are not happy, but just that they need to have retreat time to do things that relaxes them and also most likely communicate with their friends/family at home.

Seeline Mon 15-May-17 08:30:17

We 'did ' the French exchange just after Christmas, and despite my dreading it, it went very well. My DD is only Y8, so the girls were a bit younger. Exchange partner spoke very little English so I had to dredge up my 30 year old O level French, and did a lot of miming grin
She wanted to try English stuff, so I tried to have a variety of English meals - Shepherds Pie, traditional roast etc, but spag bol went down well, as did a pasta bake. She wanted to try fish and chips so we went to Brighton over the weekend with several other pairs which was a great success. She also wanted to try a full English breakfast!
Packed lunch I just did cheese and ham sandwiches - her request (opened the fridge door and lots of pointing!!) then standard crisps, fruit etc. Tunnocks caramel wafers very popular, as was jelly!
She and DD spent some time on the Wii as that didn't require much knowledge of English, and several board games proved popular.
Oh and wifi pas word as soon as they arrive - she skyped her parents most evenings. Google translate was up permanently on the pc too.

MrsSchadenfreude Mon 15-May-17 08:37:12

Tell them to help themselves to shampoo and shower gel. Run them a nice bath if necessary and offer to wash clothes. DD2's exchange contained a couple of real stinkers, who had a marked aversion to showers or bathing. The legend of Smelly Fanny will go down in history.

mousymary Mon 15-May-17 08:50:38

I have done two - the second a few weeks ago.

My main tip is BE FLEXIBLE. Boy no. 1 spoke exceedingly good English and was keen to try typical English dishes, eg toad in the hole "crapaud dans le trou" and enjoyed cultural day out at weekend. Boy no. 2 spoke zero English and was very shy. We soon realised that hanging out with the other kids (eg going bowling) was the way to go.

The Playstation is your friend. It is an international language! Don't force boardgames etc unless you are sure the French person can keep up, otherwise it's awkward and embarrassing for them. Make sure you have a few films (eg Harry Potter) with French subtitles. Quite a lot of films have every foreign subtitle under the sun except French.

Agree with pp - frogmarch young person to shower - in friendly way! "Tu veux prendre une douche? Qui? Ici la douche et une serviette..." and start running shower for them before they have time to say "Non merci." grin

Dinners that went down well on recent trip were chicken pasta bake and two extra helpings were requested of Eton Mess!

Lunchbox - those Capri Sun things he liked (frozen so good as ice packs in packed lunch) and I did cheese & ham baguettes plus a yoghurt, piece of fruit, packet of crisps.

Ancienchateau Mon 15-May-17 16:49:12

Standard packed lunch in these parts is baguette with ham. They seem to love Pringles. They love Fish and Chips. They are mostly averse to spicy food. They are good eaters overall so don't worry too much. Smaller portions than us but they are used to 4 courses ...

NotHotDogMum Wed 17-May-17 13:11:14

Our French exchange student spoke very little English.

He ate very well, everything we offered him. Loved all things chocolate (hot chocolate, Nutella, coco pops etc.) I made huge packed lunches (baquettes with ham & cheese) fruit, crisps, biscuits, sausage rolls and more chocolate!

Roast dinner,Fish & chips ,Full English breakfast were all on his list of things to try.

The only thing he didn't eat was a pork pie in his lunch (fair enough) my DS said French boy and his friends found said pork pie hilarious and threw it around the school bud laughing hmm

I would have some French movies or subtitled tv available, also iPad so they can watch French iTube etc. They do need some down time as they have very busy and exhausting schedules. And yes to wifi password so they can stay in touch with family.

He didn't seem to shower much, or change clothes, but I just left him to it and didn't nag.

His family sent over some local Delicacies for our family to try, and I sent back some too (English tea in a fancy tin, Union Jack mug and some Scottish shortbread)

It was a very positive experience and my DS French went Up a grade. Enjoy and good luck

Slumberlabd1 Sun 24-Jun-18 09:00:32

Currently on French exchange and the exchange student is bullying DD. My DD warned me that she was horrid and that she had an awful time in France. Now she tells me that she is worse in uk than when she was there. Eg one word answers when my daughter attempts to speak to her and then she immediately walks away, (she speaks perfect English so this is not an excuse) she fails to take any interest in the shops that my daughter visits but disappears for hours in department stores of her chose much to the distress of my daughter. Making no attempt what’s so ever to make any conversation with DD unless of course me or DH are there. Then she appears to be the sweetest thing.
Refusing to go to a party that my DD was invited to because she would not know anyone (not true- as there was another French exchange student there) when DD went to France she was immediately taken to a family party and was totally ignored until she called me in tears in the first day.

DH wants to confront her as he cannot believe someone would be so rude and scheming to treat someone like that in their own home. We have one more full day until it is over and we all cannot wait. Bloody rude child😤

I have someone

BeautifulWintersMorning Tue 26-Jun-18 16:46:16

French teens eat a lot at lunchtime. When we go to France we get about 3-4 times more than I'd normally eat in our packed lunches.
Can i ask what would be in a french packed lunch? We have a french teenager coming next school year

Needmoresleep Tue 26-Jun-18 17:38:09

Board games are great. The exchange is forced to communicate, and is included. I think it is worth insisting that your child also thinks through and takes responsibility for their guest. Our German exchange was happy to tell us who were poor hosts, leaving the exchange kid on their own whilst their own child spent the evening playing video games.

Also worth ensuring food is separate. So plain grilled chicken with a sauce that can be added. Sausages etc. Plain veg. That way the child can eat what they want. That said we had one child who refused to eat anything...till she spotted a greasy hot dog stand, and wolfed a huge portion down.

And if you sense problems speak to the teachers. It became clear before one exchange arrived that the mother was ‘odd’. The teachers in France did some checking and proposed that the return trip was spent with a different family altogether. The poor girl then let slip about some of the issues at home. I am glad we were able to give her a break. It is also clear that this was not the first time something like this had happened, and accompanying teachers were prepared to pull a child out quickly if this were necessary.

SoftBallSophie Tue 26-Jun-18 17:57:47

I packed the following in our French exchange students lunches:

Ham & cheese sandwich (baguette type bread as opposed to sliced)
Packet of crisps / popcorn
Piece of fruit
Fruit juice
Bottle of water
Muffin or cake or biscuits

They seemed to enjoy the lunches the most. Also on days out I gave my DC enough money to buy their French exchange a coffee or macdonalds or ice cream etc. Which they really appreciated.

We had a very easy boy who ate anything and was very polite. He enjoyed trying English food and enjoying local outings. His family were wonderful on the return trip, it was such a positive experience for my DS.

And then a couple of years later a very rude girl who treated my DD badly, barely ate or spoke, just sat in her phone all day. All she wanted was to meet up with her one French friend. She openly laughed at and mocked my DD when she tried to speak French. One afternoon the family went out and left my DD alone in their flat, it started to get dark and she was alone and scared in a strange country in a strangers home :-(

KittyMcKitty Tue 26-Jun-18 18:06:21

When my ds was in France on his exchange last year all the French hosts gave people those pouches of apple purée in their lunch.

Needmoresleep Tue 26-Jun-18 18:17:58

Not just the French. We effectively adopted a second German girl when we realised her family intended to leave her alone in a large house in Kensington for a whole weekend with only a housekeeper for company. I tried to phone the family for their permission but the phone number given was just for the girls room.

The two German girls were banned from speaking German to each other and it worked out fine. Somehow having two of them was less strain on DD. And both were happy with the standard Top Shop, M&M world London tour. Brick Lane also goes down well. As did a drive in Krispy Kreme.

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