In a joint venture between Somerville House and St Hilda’s Anglican School for Girls in Perth, recently, language students in Year 10 participated in an innovative bi-coastal French lesson via skype. 

The lesson aimed to give students from opposite sides of Australia the opportunity to learn from and communicate with one another in a novel way, helping them to build confidence in conversational French.

Somerville House Head of Languages, Mr Clayton Forno, said the skype lesson idea came to fruition from his recent staff exchange to St Hilda’s and serves as a trial run to gauge its suitability in becoming a collaborative language curriculum assessment between both schools.

“The idea that students of a similar age, who are not native French speakers, are collaborating with one another means they are less likely to feel intimidated and will give them a lot more confidence to go out into the world and hold conversations with native French speakers,” Mr Forno said.

Passionate about girls’ education, Mr Forno said that the skype lesson plays on research that has shown girls like to collaborate, allowing them to consolidate what they have learnt in class over the last three years.

“Research presented by the Alliance of Girls' Schools Australasia points to the fact that girls like to collaborate and connect with each other in their learning and Somerville House and St Hilda’s are two schools with similar philosophies on girls’ education as well as girls’ leadership,” Mr Forno said.

During the lesson, students introduced themselves, asked questions and had the opportunity to get to know one other with a view to doing this again in a more embedded and structured way next year.

“This will give way to a lot more collaboration between our schools with things like pair work, for example, setting a skype session for homework with a partner or group presentations during class,” Mr Forno said. 

“The possibilities are endless for what we can do and how we can collaborate,” he said.