Vive la difference!
Friday, 27th June 2008
There's a interesting article in The Guardian this week about how foreign exchange trips are in danger of dying-out because of new child protection rules.
The new regulations will mean that foreign exchange hosts will be more closely screened than ever before. http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,2287330,00.html
This combined with the fact that record numbers of GCSE students dropped languages last year (because the government made studying them voluntary at 14) could spell disaster for young Britons learning languages. We’re yet to see if all the new red tape will simply put parents off welcoming foreign students.
There’s no doubt that the safety of students is of paramount importance, but a balance needs to be struck. Foreign exchanges are a life-enriching experience and offer invaluable lessons about other cultures. More importantly, they offer teenagers a first chance to be away from parents for any length of time, smoke Gitanes and hit the Euro-discos.
The article goes on to round-up the exchange experiences of a range of guardian columnists, from Lucy Mangan’s disastrous exchange in rural France, to Helen Pidd learning German swear words. The exchange experience is one which clearly stays with people for the rest of their lives.