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Off to France


The technology in today’s society has allowed us to pull up information in a matter of seconds, communicate easier, and even learn. Thanks to a piece of technology called the Lifesize system and a 50 inch LG television, students are able to talk to kids from around the world and speak another language without having to leave their classroom desks. The power of technology has allowed the kids of Half Hollow Hills West to go international with no need for a plane ticket.

The Lifesize system is a video chat system which allows one to communicate with people whether they are in another state or another country. In order to use this novel technology, both destinations must have the system installed. Once installed and a connection is established, the camera can physically move to encompass a wider range of vision as well as provide high-definition images. This system is not only used in the classroom but in businesses for conferences that stretch as close as New Jersey and go as far as Switzerland.

The Lifesize system has only been used in few schools on Long Island, a few of which include, Great Neck and High School West. The system came to West in 2011 when the district acquired the technology. This technology is used in Madame Jennifer Houston’s class twice a week on Tuesdays and Thursdays. It is used for all her classes to connect to classrooms in Montpellier, France. Madame Houston believes that by being “able to connect with their peers on every day issues in a foreign language helps the kids to realize that students in another part of the world have similarities in culture from movies, to music, and to Facebook!.” By Madame Houston researching online for schools in France to talk to she came across Louis Montaldot who was an English teacher in France. This move was the start of a very educational and rewarding experience that teaches student about different countries in High School West.

Junior, Daphne Alerte, as a result of the video chat learned “French students have an internship or stage when they are fourteen. During their Christmas break they explore a profession that they are interested in.” Sophomore Harris Durkovic thinks “it’s really cool how we can interact with these French students, engage in conversation, and practice our French speaking skills at the same time.” Sometimes the conversations are a little slow. Sophomore Lizbi Bosua feels “it is a bit awkward at first but it forces us to speak French” and Sophomore Bryce Daily agrees that “ the fifteen minute conversations is definitely helpful and we basically just introduce ourselves and talk about what we are doing in class”. Junior Kaz Ryder states that “the French class is relatively small compared to our French and so we are able to get more individual time to talk”. The system “only takes a couple of minutes” stated Sophomore Amanda Davis.

The technology is a good educational tool and shows us how far technology has come not only in the classroom but in society. With this technology we are able to create ties with kids from all over the world, learn in a different way, and have a little fun in the process.