Driving around town talking French.  Is there really a benefit in that?   

Obviously one can have a series of lessons in the classroom in which your students only speak French.

The only problem is that some students will occasionally phase out of the on-going conversation and stop forcing themselves to think in French.

However recent research undertaken by a team at Yale University has revealed that intellectual activity in new and different places stimulates the brain to a much, much higher level than otherwise would be the case.

As a result, if the instruction that all conversation is to be in French is given when the lesson is taking place in a different environment, then the focus on speaking and thinking in French tends to be grasped much more thoroughly than when the lesson takes place in the regular classroom.

Of course, if the conversation can also be related to something in the environment, then the learning becomes even more deeply embedded.  But even without that link, the mere fact of being in a different place stimulates the brain so much that the focus on the language is much more intense.

One way to do this is simply to take a group of students for a walk around the school grounds, with the students in pairs, being instructed to converse all the time, but only in French.

However if the students can experience a new environment, then the opportunity to develop the conversation grows dramatically when they are instructed to converse on the subject of what they see around them.

And one way to do this is by taking a short trip in the school minibus.

The research on learning in different environments from Yale University is reported in more detail on the Outside.Education website, and there is no doubt that the simple diversion of removing the conversation from the classroom to another environment does enhance learning dramatically.

As for the issue of having a minibus available, this problem has been overcome via the increased availability of leased minibuses which allow more groups to be taken out. For a minibus taken on a lease is paid for month by month until the lease ends, rather than being paid for in full at the start of its use.

If you are interested in the idea of leasing a minibus to enable the school to run more trips outside the classroom there is information on that here. Alternatively, you can get in touch by calling the Minibus Team on 01753 859944 or by dropping us an email – minibus@benchmarkleasing.co.uk – and we’ll do our best to help!