Hampden Street School teacher Rebecca Armstrong is leaving behind her year two class to teach in France for 10 weeks. Photo: Kate Russell.

Teacher’s French adventure


Nelson teacher Rebecca Armstrong is about to say au revoir to Hampden Street School and bonjour to France.

This week, she is leaving behind her class of six and seven-year-olds for ten weeks of French life after winning the Ministry of Education Language Immersion Award.

Rebecca is heading to Jeumont, a small village of 4000 people, three hours north of Paris on the Belgium border.

She will be teaching at a Catholic high school, Sainte Bernadette, and staying with two different host families during her time there – neither of which can speak any English.

Rebecca says she has “always loved” the French language and has had quite the journey to get to where she is now.

“After learning it for a couple of years at high school, I applied to do Transforming Practice in Language Teaching programme in 2017.”

The one-year programme is funded by the Ministry of Education and helps teachers to gain internationally-recognised language qualifications and accreditation in language teaching.

After scoring 96.5 per cent in her proficiency test, she was encouraged to further study the language and attend weekly night classes.

During the course, she was able to attend Stage de Noumea – a two-week French immersion experience in New Caledonia where she was immersed in classes and cultural activities, and only French was spoken.

Rebecca says she has fully embraced her Hampden Street School students in the culture too, with them doing at least one hour of French a week. “We do songs, technology, games – lots of hands-on stuff. They are like little sponges.”

She says she is filled with “excitement, nerves and pure terror” ahead of her trip, leaving behind her husband and two teenage children.

“It’s definitely a brave move, a huge learning curve and out of my comfort zone. It has taken a lot of blood, sweat and tears to get to this stage and, of course, heaps of support from my family, friends and school.”

You can follow Rebecca’s trip through her Facebook blog, ’10 weeks in France’.