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Bishop Challoner girls practice their French on day's Christmas trip to Lille

PUBLISHED: 16:00 05 December 2014 | UPDATED: 22:02 11 December 2014

Confectionry stall at Lille Market delights two Bishop Challoner pupils [pictures: James Johnston]

Confectionry stall at Lille Market delights two Bishop Challoner pupils [pictures: James Johnston]

Bishop Challoner Sch

More than 100 schoolgirls from London's East End have returned across the Channel after a day's Christmas shopping trip form their school to the French town of Lille.

Pupils try their conversation French with Lille's street market tradersPupils try their conversation French with Lille's street market traders

The 11-year-olds and senior pupils from Stepney’s Bishop Challoner Secondary went on the excursion arranged and paid for by the school’s French department so they could practice their language skills abroad.

“We made sure they spoke French while they were in Lille,” the school’s communications officer James Johnston said.

Popular jewellery stall in Lille where Bishop Challoner girls bought engraved braceletsPopular jewellery stall in Lille where Bishop Challoner girls bought engraved bracelets

“Their French was good. It was an exercise to get the youngsters speaking French in everyday conversation, doing their Christmas shopping and talking to the town’s market traders.

“Sometimes townsfolk came up to them and asked what school they were from and would engage them in conversation—it was very useful for the girls.”

Queueing for croissants and French waffles in Lille marketQueueing for croissants and French waffles in Lille market

The Head of Year 7 at the school, Stella Campbell, chose the northern French town, close to the Belgian border, for its unique Christmas market.

It was the first time the school has visited Lille. Most popular were the stalls selling chocolate or croissants and a jewellery stall with bracelets at four euros each where the girls had their names engraved.

One pupil discovers Lille's French-speaking SantaOne pupil discovers Lille's French-speaking Santa

But the Christmas excursion was a long day for the youngsters, who had set off yesterday from school in three coaches at 5.45am, travelling on the Channel Tunnel train, arriving in Lille by 11.30am French time, with packed lunches provided.

The shopping finished at 4pm and the pupils were back at Bishop Challoner’s in Commercial Road by 8.30pm GMT, greeted by waiting parents.

“The trip ran smoothly,” James added. “But the girls were very tired after such a long and exciting day.

“It was the first time abroad for many of them who have never left the UK.”

The school is planning the same trip next Thursday for 100 Year 7 boys and seniors.

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Pictures: James Johnston

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