¿Y por qué no un intercambio escolar?/ Why not a student exchange visit?

2014  |  


premios etwinning 2014

2014 eTwinning prize Age category: 12 to 16

Title: Why not a student exchange visit? 

Educational stage: Secondary

Subject: Foreign Languages 

School: La Anunciata-FESD, Tudela (Navarra)

Project coordinator: María Ángeles Rincón




This was a French-Spanish bilingual project with the main aim of establishing regular contact between the two schools, getting to know one another and finally organizing a student exchange visit for two whole weeks. Both for the teachers and the students this work has meant a new way both to teach and learn. The generalized use of ICT tools has made it possible to continually practice the foreign language in a real context, to have documents available at any time of the day, to organize the exchange in a structured and simple way, to work in collaboration, etc. It has also meant an innovation that the teacher herself describes as a few years ago they used cassette tapes and now they use podcasts.    

Added to this has been the encouragement of creativity in the students using activities like the creation of the logo, of the digital book, of the travel diary, musical compositions, etc. 

But we will let the real protagonists of the project, represented by their coordinator María Angeles Rincón, tell us what the development and recognition of the project has meant for the school.

The Colegio La Anunciata FESD school in Tudela has taken part during the 2012/2013 year in the eTwinning programme with the project "Why not a student exchange visit?", as part of the subject of French. The main aim which has been proposed over the last few years is an exchange visit of our 2nd and 3rd year secondary students with those of a French school: the Saint Georges de Salbris school. The central activity of the project has been planning a virtual exchange as a first step and a motivating activity before the actual exchange visit. On previous occasions we put the students of the two schools in contact with one another by letter during the first years and by email in the later years. The discovery of eTwinning made us think that it could be an ideal way to carry out exchanges through the network between the students at the two schools and to exchange information and correspondence before the actual visit. The project grew out of this idea. We decided to take advantage of the virtual TwinSpace to begin to create the links between the French and Spanish students using the tools offered by ICTs.

The coordinating teachers from the two schools proposed as the main objective creating an active and permanent contact between the two schools so that we could get to know one another before the face to face meeting of two weeks, one in each country.

We wanted to use the close and concrete situations which arose from their exchange relations as a tool to motivate the students to exercise their learning of the foreign language. The idea was to really think about the foreign culture by analyzing the information and comments which our colleagues made available to us. Also among our objectives was the encouragement of team work inside and outside our frontiers as well as improving our students' knowledge and mastery of ICTs.



We started the project in September 2012 with the first contacts between the teachers, and it finished in June 2013 after the visits to the two countries. During the development of the activity which lasted the school year, we encountered some difficulties and moments of discouragement mainly due to the lack of time. One class hour devoted to the use of eTwinning as a work tool was too little and neither could we give over the three hours of French per week to the development of the project. Thanks to the collaboration of the crafts and technology teachers and tutors who gave up part of their time or that of their pupils to work "overtime" and to the fact that some activities were related to the work set for the subjects, we were able to progress and get the proposed activities done more quickly. Other difficulties added to that of the lack of time during the course of the project. As we did not want the students themselves to register in the different applications due to their age, we had to work in the classroom using the emails of different teachers which slowed down the completion of some activities. But the hardest part was when we experienced some really anxious moments when we lost a considerable part of the work already done. A student accidentally deleted all the activities which had been painstakingly accumulated in a wiki, and it was impossible to recover them.  At that moment we were tempted to abandon the project because it seemed impossible to recover, but thanks to everyone's collaboration and efforts we were able to do it again.   


For the teachers like us who are not IT specialists, it has been a great satisfaction to discover and learn, together with the students, some of the applications which were so useful and attractive like Sliderocket, Mindomo, Slidely, Issuu etc. The use of the forum and chat were essential at first for the students to find their "pen-friend" and comment on every type of topic so that participation was very active and motivating. The game of "Who's who?" using the VOki to give a physical description of oneself, was especially enjoyable. An exchange of presents at Christmas and the videos which we made to say thank you were very special moments. The use of the application Wallwisher (Padlet) was very useful for the exchange of information about the school. The logo competition was very entertaining, as was the exhibition of these works with Mixbook, as well as the subsequent vote and prize giving during the visit of the French students to Tudela which were enjoyable and emotive occasions for us all.  


The continuity of the participation of the students in both schools during the school year was unequal. The intervention in the forums and chats of the more communicative students was very intense, but was more limited in others. Participation in the different tasks, depending on the subject matter and the attractiveness of the task was also varied, although in general participation has been satisfactory.

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The use of the TwinSpace has been a great novelty for the students, because they have been able to learn French to continually use it in practice to get to know their fellow students before going to their country. The majority thought that "this year they felt more comfortable going to France because they knew more about their colleagues, their families and their customs; and they had even talked to them". "It was much easier to communicate with our French colleagues, we really enjoyed the many activities which we carried out and we also made friends" say Aura and Marta, two students who took part in the project. For all these reasons we think that the objectives have been more than achieved.

Personally the prize we have been awarded gives me great satisfaction. It is the reward for laborious but gratifying work which has meant the introduction of this methodology as well as a dose of encouragement to continue to work in the line of collaboration and innovation. Of course it has been good news for the school and the educational community. Other teachers are becoming interested in eTwinning, some have registered and intend to start projects in the near future. But the people who have benefitted most have been the participants because we have worked intensely on the learning of a language, we have enhanced our world of relations and also we have had great fun.

Image source: The project TwinSpace and an NSS photocomposition using a free image from eleganthemes.com 

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