By: Precious Mills
BASSETERRE, St.Kitts (Friday 15th February 2019)- The Director of the Alliance Française de St.Kitts and Nevis, Marine Moncaut, is hoping that local students will see the importance of learning a different language during an upcoming student exchange programme to the French-speaking Caribbean island of Guadeloupe for a period of five (5) days.
In a recent interview, the educator who originally hails from France and is fluent in English and Spanish with French being her native language, revealed that it took her two decades before personally realising the significance of such.
The St.Kitts-Nevis group—comprising of 17 students and eight adults including Alliance Française committee members and parents- is scheduled to travel come next week (Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd February) for the programme which comes in partnership with the College St. John Perse in Les Abymes in Guadeloupe.
The trip is expected to include a tour of the island, a cultural morning with traditional dance and music (Gwoka), a visit to The Memorial ACTe museum (Regional Museum of Slavery), the traditional night market at Sainte-Anne and a day at the island of Les Saintes.
Notably, the local students are involved with the Alliance Française but combined are different students from the Federation, mostly from the Basseterre area.
In addressing her view on the benefits of learning a different language, Moncaut talked about building friendships as she highlighted that a male from Guadeloupe recently visited her office with a Kittitian lady whom he met 47 years after having been participants of an exchange programme.
“So that’s building lifelong friendships. As educator, for me, it is for the students to see the point of learning a foreign language. In our classes, sometimes we don’t have enough power to prove the students that it can be good to learn a different language and to speak it,” she remarked.
Moncaut continued: “For me I’m convinced because I’m working with a different language every day. I want them to see [the importance]; it took me 20 years to realise that so if we could give them an opportunity to see it from a younger age they will save a bit of struggle that you have to do when you’re a bit older to catch up so it’s for them to see the importance. The advantages that they can get from learning a foreign language in terms of communication for career purposes , for studies purposes but also for personal benefits; you can meet other people and you can open yourself to different people because language is what can separate people …but when you have information that you can share that is how you build bridges.”
The programme kicked off last month (January) with communication through videos sent by both institutions which according to Moncaut saw “a mix between the language and the culture.”
She informed that local students communicated in French while those in Guadeloupe spoke English.
As gathered, the St.Kitts-Nevis group students presented information about national symbols of St.Kitts-Nevis including the flag and also sung the national anthem in both French and English.
On the other side, the Guadeloupians did a poem as part of their presentation and also a performance of a traditional dance by one of the male students.
“Those in Guadeloupe spoke English because they are students learning English and [those from St.Kitts-Nevis] are students learning French. So when they will meet, they will have two languages that they don’t manage super efficiently but at least, it sets a certain equality in terms of the knowledge of the language; those in Guadeloupe will not be very comfortable with English and the Kittitians will not be comfortable with French…because they will have the same challenge,” Moncaut commented.