Shane H. Université de Montréal
Newfoundland & Labrador to Quebec
I will forever be appreciative of my time spent at the University of Montreal in the summers of 2009 and 2010. Until my first session with Explore, I had very little training in French. In the days before my scheduled flight to Montreal, I was nervous and questioning my own potential for the Explore program. Despite the nerves, I arrived in Montreal to a welcoming group of fellow Explorers waiting for a shuttle to U of M. Everyone came with a different level of expertise in the French language, and each person did their best to ensure the success of friends and fellow students. After arriving at the U of M residence, a fabulous group of people (les animateurs) gave information and highlighted events scheduled for the first evening. The initial test administered on the first Monday of the session helped to group us (students) into levels based on our oral and written fluency. The unique thing about U of M (and I assume for other institutions) is the different levels and how each level interacts with and assists the learning of the other levels, whether higher or lower. For example, each level will have classroom-based instruction where students get to feel comfortable among others with the same knowledge base — but outside of class are sociocultural activities that students from all levels take part in. It’s in these sociocultural activities that you see students helping students. The sociocultural activities help to harness and foster friendships, which, in turn, help aid second-language acquisition. You may see an Explorer from a higher level asking an Explorer in a lower level whether a noun is masculine or feminine. Then you may see an Explorer in a lower level seeking pronunciation help from a friend in a higher level. You will find that Explore life is fun-filled, energy-packed stimulation, both inside and outside the classroom. You will make friendships with fellow Canadians and continue to stay in touch for years to come. I can’t think of a better way to be social, develop second-language skills, and watch yourself mature than the Explore initiative offered through the Council of Ministers of Education, Canada. Make a move. Complete the application. Explore. Life without cultural boundaries. You’ll be thrilled with your accomplishments.