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Active Learning in the French Riviera

By definition, the idea of active learning refers to several models of instruction that focus the responsibility of learning, on learners. Whether this means thinking and discussing, watching and creating multimedia, and immersing oneself in the subject, active learning is everywhere. Studying abroad, in itself, is quintessential of active learning. Especially for those who are studying the language, culture, or history of the country in which they live, studying abroad truly is the way one takes control of their learning. In a study abroad experience, learning comes on a daily basis. From getting groceries, to even speaking English with people all over the world, we are learning new skills and concepts just in normal day-to-day interactions.
           
Though walking to the market on a hot day in Antibes may seem as though it is simply for leisure, every day studying abroad becomes an active learning experience. At my school, I take a French Contemporary culture class, and I see examples of all that I learn in everyday interactions and happenings. Going to the market is much more than it may seem. Speaking and dealing with people of a different culture helps one see and understand the differences between people of the world more than reading a textbook ever will.
 
I then further immerse myself into the French culture, not only through attempting to speak French, but also by doing such things as going to the local movie theatre. We have the ability to watch movies dubbed in French or English movies with French subtitles. Both foster the understanding of the French language. The student government also poses another opportunity for active learning. They set up a “French buddy” program where we can meet and interact with French speakers, therefore, improving our conversational skills in a more relaxed, social setting.
 
Another aspect of active learning is the idea of debate and discussion. Many times, French people ask my opinion on American history and the political system. Discussing and debating the topics we learn in history and business classes implements the concepts in our mind, while opening up new perspectives from foreign friends. Even sticking up conversation with someone from another country opens a window into another culture and way of life. A simple conversation can teach one about the ways of another country and even interesting elements of it. It’s fascinating what you can actively learn from one conversation.


Danielle Zolotnitsky is the Fall 2012 CEA MOJO in the French Riviera

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