Jillian McCarthy

Jillian McCarthy, study abroad participant in Belgium

Participant in study abroad program in Belgium

I’ve always enjoyed speaking languages more than taking language classes, which was what drew me to the CHS French classes offered at my high school. The class was an immersive language experience that prepared me to spend a month in Belgium with a French-speaking host family. It made me comfortable conversing in French and cemented vocabulary, grammar, and conversational skills that I had learned throughout high school.

When I arrived in Belgium, it was both exhausting and exhilarating to speak French full time without the option of speaking English. As is pretty typical of immersive language experiences, there were moments when speaking French felt like wading through mud, where every sentence was a struggle to put together. At other times, the language flowed effortlessly, almost as if I had been born speaking it. Without the conversational experience that my CHS French class provided, this transition would have been much more difficult.

My CHS French classes were great preparation for college as well, where classes were conducted entirely in French, and where professors expected students to be able to complete outside work independently and come to class prepared. My CHS teacher had these same expectations, so when I arrived at school as a first year, I was better able to handle the coursework than students who were majoring in French in their sophomore and junior years.