Meurthe-et-Moselle has already taken in more than 800 refugees since the Russian invasion began. A hundred children are taught in the department. In Nancy, Guynemer College has a full-time teacher who teaches French to allophone students.
“In the future I would like to become an artist or a designer“. Yeva has been attending Guynemer College since Monday March 28, 2022, just a few days after her arrival in France with all the women of the family: “my brother, father and grandfather stayed in Kyiv“.
At the age of 11, the teenager already has a good knowledge of English”,I took private lessons outside of the classroom“, but she has no knowledge of French. Fortunately, she is being trained within the framework of an educational unit for incoming allophone students (UPE2A). This system allows her to be assigned to a traditional class, but above all to receive specific lessons with Audrey Guillaume, French teacher , specialty French as a second language. Fifteen students are enrolled in the system at this college in downtown Nancy.
On this morning, the graduate modern literature teacher welcomes eight students, who introduce themselves one after the other. Small flags of several countries hang on the back wall. Two students come from Syria, two more from Montenegro, another from Sudan… The consequences of wars and the displacement of the population can be found on the school desks.”We follow the conflicts in the world‘ says the teacher.
The day begins by writing the date on a copy. Audrey Guillaume slips mischievously to the date of the next day and the tradition of April 1st. In front of the curious pouts of the teenagers, the teacher conjures up the fish we hang in the back, the pranks and how to do them to be successful: “do it with those you know well, your close friends, if you see people not responding well don’t insist“.
We follow the conflicts in the world.Audrey Guillaume
Teacher at Guynemer College in Nancy for allophone students
Learning French in order to be able to go to school in France is his obligation. Corn “I also try to teach them the language of everyday life so that they can find their way around as quickly as possible.“. Depending on their pace of learning, UPE2A students then take more and more classes with the other students in the class they are assigned to.
In Audrey Guillaume’s class, the levels are mixed and she constantly has to adapt.I’ve had students who never went to school or went to school very little“. A., who is from Sudan, could not write when he arrived a year ago. At the age of 13, he was transferred to a 6th class.
The teacher wants to do her best to ensure her students pass the Diplôme d’études en langue française (DEFL). She prepares them for the exam this morning. The teenagers listen to a listening comprehension exercise and then have to answer a questionnaire, which they will later correct. Yeva, who doesn’t know the Latin alphabet, is taken apart with specific exercises. The teacher corrects and repeats the letters one by one. “IConsonants are easier“, She smiles, “Sometimes I get help from an online translator, we understand each other, but generally I only speak to them in French “.
The Russian-speaking teenager was a bit lost with April Fools, a quick translator, and she nods: the tradition exists in Ukraine too.
“The students help each other, the other girls immediately surrounding the somewhat lost Yeva when she arrived“, explains Audrey Guillaume. One of them, N., originally from Aleppo in Syria, recalls that she also “very lonely when she arrived” and that she appreciated being supported: “We eat together in the canteen every daysmiles the 12-year-old sixth-grade teenager.
The teacher is very committed to her students, who she also takes to dance performances and exhibitions at the André Malraux Cultural Center in Vandoeuvre (CCAM) or in the media library. “ATBefore that I took them to the nearby central market, they loved it“.
Each of them will be supported for one year as part of the UP2A.
“Cis a bit tight“, the teacher regrets, “for some of them we should have more time to give them maximum chances“. At the end of the UP2A year, most students return to their sector university, very few stay in Guynemer, “and I regret it because I’d like to continue either way“.
She says her biggest fear is that the device will disappear. The rector of the college, Patricia Barrier, wants to reassure: “it’s proven, there’s no reason to question it. We are a colorful university with great diversity, and we want to stay that way.”.
At ten past twelve the bell rings and the green corridors are noisily filled with students. Lunch time for Yeva and her new comrades, who walk arm in arm, laughing. The teenager who cried on the first day found a smile and a desire to learn.