So as the gazillionth lockdown finally came to an end just in time for spring, I was delighted that my first class back teaching face to face at the British Council would be the intensive HEC Prepa course.
Every June the British Council welcomes HEC prepa students for a week-long intensive course to improve their English.
So first things first; Who is HEC? What is Prepa?
HEC is a prestigious Paris business school; one of the few select schools that owns the elite title of a grandes école. Prepa (short for préparatoires) refers to courses taken by some students usually in the two years after the baccalauréat. The aim of these courses is to prepare students for entry exams into Les Grandes Ecoles such as HEC.
So by the time our students reach the British Council they have completed their intensive preparation study for HEC and you would imagine probably want nothing more than to go to sleep for a month! Oh contraire! Incredibly, they arrive every year full of curiosity, energy and focus, ready to make the most of this great opportunity to improve their English.
The course at the British Council
The course runs from Monday to Friday. Each day students work through a variety of activities aimed to improve reading, listening, writing with a particular emphasis on speaking. As part of the course students also do a cool vlogging project which they must create during the week in groups and present on Friday to their classmates and teachers.
What do the students get out of it?
After a very intense year of sit down study one of the main objectives we have is to get the students up and out of their seats, working in groups all the while being as creative as possible. Through a plethora of activities aimed at drawing out their personal interests, passions and opinions students broaden their cultural knowledge of the UK and immerse themselves in all that is British! Students are also invited to get to know their teachers, ask us questions about the UK, British culture and our experience of living in France. By the end of the week the students leave the British Council feeling much more confident in expressing themselves in English, whether it be by giving a presentation, taking part in a debate or class discussion.
What do we as teachers get out of it?
As a teacher with a background in drama this is an opportunity for me to utilise my skills as an actor to help students build confidence and improve oral expression. Perhaps because the style of teaching we offer is in such contrast to what the students are used to, they are very open to drama activities which is wonderful for me as a teacher as I can be spontaneous and try new ideas.
Second to that is the way the course is designed, the material is bountiful and as teachers we pick and choose day by day what we think the students will benefit from the most. Teaching on this course is a liberating experience, whilst at the same time very focused as we have just five days to give these students a meaningful language learning and cultural experience. Personally, this is my favorite way to teach; intensively but with a huge amount of freedom and a group of students who are open to learning “outside the box.”