Falkirk languages student says 'oui' to a dream exchange trip to Paris

Two top students – one learning French and one learning English – will both be experiencing life in a foreign country to mark Languages Week Scotland.
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Laurieston Primary School pupil Johanna Ekokota, 10, is about to enjoy the trip of a lifetime as she prepares to fly off on her own to Paris. Meanwhile French pupil Niels Rudolph, 10, is now adapting to life in Scotland.

Johanna and her family met Niels at Edinburgh airport and the youngster is now attending Laurieston Primary with Johanna and her sister Amaris, 6. He will be on these shores for two weeks before Johanna joins him on the flight back to France to start her Parisian adventure.

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The exchange ties in with Languages Week Scotland – a celebration of language learning and multilingualism in Scotland, with the theme for 2023 being “languages for a peaceful world”.

Niels and Johanna will be heading over to Paris in a couple of weeksNiels and Johanna will be heading over to Paris in a couple of weeks
Niels and Johanna will be heading over to Paris in a couple of weeks

Laurieston Primary School headteacher Beverley Keith said: “It’s a pleasure having Niels in our school community and he has enjoyed a variety of activities as well as timetabled lessons. Overseas connections are so important in today’s world.

“Not only do pupils get educational and cultural enrichment – speaking in the chosen language day in and day out, enables pupils to learn much faster, without realising it. We are now all very excited about Johanna’s visit and cannot wait to hear all about her time living in Paris.”

Johanna’s French Club teacher Sandra Kasparek, who helped facilitate the exchange, said: “Johanna is a natural linguist with a real passion for French, so this is such an amazing opportunity for her and for Niels too.

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"It’s fantastic they both get to share their daily life, plus experience each other’s culture and practice their language skills. Unlike going on holiday, the pair get to immerse themselves in home life and appreciate not only the differences but also the similarities between their lives as well.”

As well as joining in with school life, Niels has also had the opportunity to soak in Scotland’s cultural heritage and contemporary culture in his visitor experience.

He said: “I am so happy to be here in Scotland, coming in on the plane and seeing the landscape and scenery was so exciting. School life is amazing and everyone is so friendly and I love being able to speak and practice my English all day.

"It is very different to back home in France. I was astonished we got to use iPads in some of the classes and even lunchtimes are a surprise. At my school we do not

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have a choice of foods like here at Laurieston, there is just one option whether you like or it not.”

While staying with Johanna and her family in Falkirk, Niels has also been able to visit some of the area’s attractions and landmarks.

He said: “We have visited some really interesting places since I have been here. I enjoyed exploring Edinburgh as there is so much to see and do there. Recently we had a trip to Helix Park and I saw the Kelpies sculptures – I was shocked to learn they are 100ft tall.”