From Australia to France, via Bili

Bili has been connecting schools across the world for nearly two years now so we wanted to share with you the experience of two partner schools on Bili. These featured schools tell you the impact that Bili has had on students and their language learning experience, and how it helps them in their teaching.

Montmorency South Primary School and Collège Jean PerrinAlmost 10,000 miles physically separate our first pair of schools to be featured, but Bili has helped them make that journey much shorter. The Montmorency South PS near Melbourne, Australia, and the Collège Jean Perrin near Paris, France, have indeed been exchanging since April of last year on Bili and have learnt to successfully overcome the challenge that living in different time zones represents.

In December of last year, Charlie, Bili’s founder, had the chance to meet Helen in Melbourne, right before summer holidays to discuss how Bili has made their exchange with a French school possible.

Montmorency South Primary School

Teacher: Helen
Location: Montmorency, Melbourne (Australia)
School size: 640 students
Number of students on Bili: 66
Bili member since: April 2017
Language taught: French
Technology at the school: “Students have access to a variety of technology; class iPads for P-2 and in year 3-6 each student has their own iPad.”

Collège Jean Perrin

Teacher: Fanny
Location: Paris suburbs (France)School size: 300 students
Number of students on Bili: 66
Bili member since: April 2017
Language taught: English
Technology at the school: “The Académie (education authority) in our region offers each kid a laptop for his/her studies. That allows them to properly use a computer and learn about the Internet safe use.”

Fanny and Helen met during Fanny’s time as a French language assistant at Montmorency South back in 2013. When she got back to France, they decided to start a pen pal exchange between their schools, but soon, they were faced with the many setbacks that come with an exchange via mail.

The problem

Helen: After launching our pen pal project, we both found the process time-consuming, expensive and quite an in-effective way for the students to connect.

Fanny: The year before, we were collecting the kids letters and sending them via email. Then we had to print them one by one. That was a slow and long work to carry on.

The solution

Helen: I had been searching for an online program to speed up our exchanges and engage our students, that was completely safe and could be monitored by the teacher. I came across a promotion for Bili in an ALLNET newsletter and started exploring its possibilities.

Fanny: Bili allows me to work more quickly, it’s very efficient, easy and well done! Plus, the help via mail is very helpful and quick when you have a question, that’s perfect!

Bili can indeed help you accelerate the pen pal process, make it more lively and maintain regular interaction between students. It’s a safe space where teachers are in control and can supervise all messages sent and received by their students, assigning tasks to structure their students’ exchange.

“I can follow the kids’ progression very easily and help them with comments.”

Helen’s and Fanny’s teaching experience with Bili

Helen: We have a strong focus on ensuring our students are cyber safe and many exchange opportunities I have investigated require the students to use email addresses; Bili however, allows the students to interact without giving out any personal contact information. Bili encourages the students to drive their own learning for a purpose, to make themselves understood by native speakers and they are loving the challenges and the achievements they are making. Charlie and the team at Bili have also been an amazing support as I learn the platform and what it and our students can achieve together.

Fanny: Bili is very helpful! I like the fact that many different topics/tasks are already registered, that’s very useful. But it’s also very nice of being able to create your own. I can follow the kids’ progression very easily and help them with comments. The link to an online dictionary is great too! The fact that the teacher needs to approve each kid’s message is also very good!

Bili provides you with constant support throughout your entire exchange. This starts with setting up your account to adding in your students and assigning tasks. Our team will also train you, if you want, so that you can get the maximum value from using it with your students.

“Learning from peers offers students memorable,
real and effective learning.”

The sustained contact with native speakers

Helen: I think it is very important for the students to have regular contact with native speakers for many reasons, but these are my top 3. Firstly, I am currently the only teacher in the school and I am not a native speaker. Secondly, Australia offers quite limited exposure to French speakers due to our geographical location and percentage of immigrants speaking French. Lastly, learning from peers offers students memorable, real and effective learning; learning from and teaching native speaking peers not only supports their French learning but also leads them to think more critically about their own skills in English.

Fanny: This contact with English speakers has been a very popular news among my three year 7 classes. I teach them different themes throughout the year and being able to speak to an English speaking person allows them to use “for real” their knowledge. They are very proud of being able to communicate with an Australian friend who is their age, it gives them self-confidence ! They have to re-use what we’ve learnt in class and that’s a good way for them to memorize the new vocabulary.

What do students have to say about Bili?

Helen: The students are so excited to be using Bili as they now have a purposeful use for the language skills/capabilities they are learning. They enjoy correcting the work of their international peers and playing the role of teacher and look forward to the responses they get. They love learning more about the French students and their lives/likes/dislikes and finding similarities to themselves.

Fanny: What they love about Bili is of course the fact that they can choose their own avatar with cute animal faces haha! They also like the fact that it’s pretty easy to use. Taking the time to write a message where they talk about themselves (which is a privileged moment for them) is much appreciated. They enjoy using their computer and talking to their down under mates!

Now that you’ve read about this fabulous partnership, sign up to Bili today to find your partner school for an online exchange!

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