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Junior French Course Feedback: Montpellier

Cactus recently sent a 13-year-old boy on a Junior French Course in Montpellier. Here, his father gives feedback from a parent’s perspective and describes the importance of giving a child the gift of another language.

“Caspar attended the school at Montpellier when he was 13 (he will return for a fortnight this year). It is, and was, a big step for him – his first taste of semi-independence and that within an foreign culture. He had doubts before going, but thoroughly enjoyed. His words to me were ‘At home I am Caspar with the shocking blond hair, and am treated according to what people think I am. In Montpellier, I could be what I wanted to be. It was freedom’. The cultural experience was / is as important to me as the linguistic experience – there were students there from several countries and continents.

He stayed with Mme Meson, an excellent guardian who took care of Caspar. He will return to her this coming Summer. She has little English; or rather she chooses to use little English, thereby offering a semi-immersive experience in a home environment.

Junior French course MontpellierRegarding Caspar’s French, he had only a very basic knowledge before last year’s course (and his French is still elementary). However, he came away with a nascent understanding of grammar and a basic ability to understand spoken French, but lacking the confidence to communicate in the language – this bridge obviously takes some time to cross. He said that those who had spent several weeks at Montpellier had indeed succeeded in crossing into fluency – a matter of time and money.

My son is not overly gregarious. However, I hope that returning for a fortnight, to a familiar regime and place will give him further confidence to open up and attempt to communicate. On the back of this year’s course he will fly straight from Montpellier to stay with a family in Nantes. They have little English and so he will be forced to use the skills he will acquire in Montpellier.

Would you recommend a Junior French Course?

Junior French course Montpellier - Montpellier schoolYes, I would recommend the course as it offers a young adult both a personal and socio-linguistic learning curve within a regulated environment. Caspar was not the youngest student last year: there were 12 year olds at Montepellier, some more confident than others. It’s all a question of maturity. Any 12 year old will be amongst 14 / 15 year olds and there is, as you know, a huge difference in slight age differences during the teenage years. To be honest, I was more nervous of letting him go last year, than he was of going – both vigilance and homesickness were issues. The same is true this year; he is only just 14. There are always risks. But, these, we felt, were minimised last year as we always had the assurance that a family friend lived in Beziers (a short drive away). I also had some email correspondence with Mme Meson prior to his visit and she seems a good sort (which through experience, was proved and she was a delight to meet).

This year, he will fly out alone and without a family friend in close proximity. However, he will be  returning to familiar territory. We also feel more confident as we have faith both in Cactus (Laura is always helpful) and Mme Meson. Plus, he’s truly looking forward to going – which is a motivational triumph for a 14 year old boy.

Obviously being a minor poses logistic problems as only certain airlines allow children to travel unaccompanied. Air France do and they have a buddy facility (for which you pay extra) which ensures their safety, easyJet also allow children but, correct me if I’m wrong, not if under 12 and unaccompanied. Last year, Caspar travelled out with our family friend and I picked him up – an opportunity to meet Mme Meson and practice the limited French I possess.

The gift of another language

Our hope, when sending Caspar to France, is that we are giving him the gift of another language. We in Britain are bullishly monolingual which, in our opinion is not a good thing (Caspar is also studying Japanese). I’m sure this is partly why you might be considering sending your child to Montpellier. Whatever you decide, I hope they will, one way or another, realise your linguistic ambition for them.”

Thank you to Ian for taking the time to give us his valuable feedback on Caspar’s Junior French Course. We look forward to sending Caspar to France again this year.

Caspar took a Junior French Course in Montpellier with host family accommodation. There is also the option to take a Junior French Course with residential accommodation. Both courses include 20 French lessons each week, an exciting programme of activities and excursions, all meals and full supervision. Contact us or visit our website to find out more about our Junior language courses and summer camps.

Junior Holiday Camps in the UK

Any parent with children of school age will be familiar with the task of keeping them entertained during the school holidays, no more so than during the long summer break. To find something social, active and educational is ideal – and that is exactly what a junior language holiday, or camp, in the UK offers.

Taking place during the summer holidays, a junior language holiday gives under 18s:

• A unique opportunity to learn English where it is spoken

• The chance to mix with others of the same age in a safe, fun & international environment

• Quality English language tuition in small group classes – leading to a natural increase in fluency & confidence

• A varied & exciting activities programme – the perfect way to try new skills & make new friends

• Safe & comfortable accommodation – with local host families or in residences

• Full in-country support & on-site supervision – meaning that youngsters feel secure & parents can rest assured their children are in good hands

• Motivation on returning home to keep up the language they have learnt and achieve better grades – whether at school or applying for a British university.

UK Locations

The UK is a popular destination for a junior English holiday as it offers a fascinating variety of cultures, landscapes and traditions. With this in mind, Cactus offers a range of programmes in both England and Scotland to suit different tastes and budgets, for children aged 8 -18 years.

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London Camps

• Camden

• Kingston

• Regents Park

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Seaside Camps

• Brighton

• Southampton

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University City Camps

• Cambridge

• Oxford

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Real England Camps

• Cheltenham

• Nottingham

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Scottish Camps:

• Edinburgh

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Football Camps:

• Manchester

• Liverpool

Special English & Football Courses

Worth a special mention, Cactus’ English and Football courses in Manchester (15–18 years) and Liverpool (12-17 years) are a must for any sports-mad teen. An absolutely brilliant way for your child to combine his or her love of football with an English language holiday, these football summer camps offer young sports enthusiasts the chance to improve their English whilst receiving FA qualified football coaching in partnership with two of the country’s premier clubs – Manchester City or Liverpool FC. A sure-fire recipe for success both in the classroom and on the football field!

Safety & Welfare of Students

Most parents sending their children away will have understandable concerns about their safety and welfare. However all junior programmes are fully supervised to ensure not just the security of the youngsters but also their general wellbeing whilst they are away from home. All programmes offer excellent staff/student ratios, emergency contact numbers for students and parents, and on-site medical support. On top of this, supervisors and staff are friendly and approachable, with many years’ experience in dealing with younger students; they maintain a close eye on students at all times and provide support should a student be missing home or have any concerns. All of this ensures that students derive maximum benefit and enjoyment from their stay.

Support from Cactus

Having visited and vetted all the locations and schools that we work with, parents who are unsure where best to send their children can call to discuss their wishes with one of our multi-lingual advisors, and at the same time benefit from in-house academic support. Knowing that you can always call about any aspect of your child’s trip and speak to an experienced member of staff is a valuable benefit – especially when for many this might be their first time away from home alone.

Whichever junior language holiday you choose, you can be sure that your child will do much more than just sit in a classroom learning verbs. Every summer camp offers something different, but they all have these key benefits in common: they offer your child the unique chance to improve their English in a safe and friendly environment, try their hand at fun new skills, socialise with others of their age from all over the world and, most importantly, come back refreshed and confident in the language. A summer holiday well spent, for sure.

Please refer to our website for a full list of English junior holidays, prices and further information.

Cactus specialises in organising language courses for individuals and groups, having done so since 1999 for clients all over the globe and for diverse needs and budgets. Our expertise in the field of face-to-face tuition is second-to-none. With an extensive network of approved teachers and a strong in-house academic team, we are able to tailor a language course to suit your specific learning needs, anywhere in the world and whenever is convenient to you.

We offer language courses for Under 18s in many languages and locations across the world.