Happy European Day of Languages!

RNC Volunteer Stephen Anderson, Ewan, French Teacher Herve, Oscar, Nathan, Hayden and Danielle are sitting around a picnic table with food on it. They are in a park with other tables of people in the background, grass and trees.]

Every year on 26 September at RNC (Royal National College for the Blind) we celebrate the European Day of Languages. There are a range of European languages spoken amongst our students and staff and we would always encourage our students to learn another language; whether it’s conversational, NVQ, GCSE or A Level. Learning a language is not just about speaking it, it is about gaining a greater level of cultural understanding and the best way of experiencing this is to take part in one of the exchange trips we offer every year.

View the gallery from our last French Exchange trip to Lyon in June 2016.


You can read the blog below by Stephen Anderson who was an RNC student (2008-2011), and is now an RNC volunteer;

“There was somewhat a strange sight outside Orchard Hall – students being required to show their passport before being allowed to have their breakfast, let alone sit down. This could only mean one thing – another exchange visit was upon us. All 10 of us, 5 students, 3 staff, a driver and our mascot, Bubblegum, ready to set off for the airport to visit our sister college – CSRP (Citè Scolaire Renè Pellet) in Lyon, France.


After a relatively pleasant flight, we landed in Lyon at approximately 3pm.  We were greeted at the station by Hervè Bourgey (English teacher at their school) who was very pleased to see us.  It was 30 degrees, so most of us were relieved to know that a cold drink and some air conditioning weren’t far away.  The exchange students and their teachers prepared a welcoming buffet for us which was very well received.  It was amazing how quickly some students who thought they were unable to speak any French were suddenly able to ask for ‘une tasse d’eau, s’il vous plait’!  Some former students came by to say ‘bonjour’.  It was a wonderful event.


It was an early night for everyone, especially as the next day was filled with so many interesting things.  Our visit around the school showed us how different our two colleges are.  CSRP offer a range of vocational skills including basket weaving a subject which is less prevalent in the UK.  We were also serenaded by the primary school with some nursery rhymes, some of us haven’t heard these for many decades!  Of course, Bubblegum got a selfie (and very nearly a new home!) with the primary school children.  Our day finished with a meal in the homes of some of the teachers.  We were treated to everything from veal and ratatouille to spaghetti and fromage blanc; what a way to experience French life at its fullest!


Friday saw a tour of the old parts of Lyon, known as ‘Vieux Lyon’, which included a tactile tour of both the basilica and the cathedral!  The rector of the basilica was extremely kind in letting our students explore his religious attire. The day ended with a visit to a summer park festival to mull over the referendum result from earlier that day.


Sunday and Monday saw us devote some time to relax and take in the wonderful sunshine.  Some students even found the time to complete their assignments over a wonderful picnic.  A joie de vivre, some may say.


There are so many benefits to this exchange – as a former student I can vouch for that.  One of our current students put it best though, when she said that “coming here has boosted my confidence, both generally and in my French studies.  Meeting French people has helped me feel ready for the future.  I fully intend to use what I’ve learned beyond RNC.”


This exchange would never have happened were it not for the tireless work of the staff at both RNC and CSRP, as well as those who have donated to enable this year’s exchange to take place.  Merci à tous – thank you to you all!  These experiences are invaluable and do not come about easily.

As I said 6 years ago, ‘I had the time of my life’.  6 years on, I don’t regret nor retract one word of it.”

End of blog by Stephen Anderson.


If you want to find out more about studying languages with us, view the RNC course pages.

If you have any questions, or would like to book an informal tour of the RNC campus, please call our Student Enquiries line on 01432 376 621 or email info@rnc.ac.uk


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