The workshops played a vital role in collecting data for the project. Having identified the prospective language assistants and staff designated as mentors/responsables, we invited them to attend a series of one-day workshops where we met them face to face.
Preparatory workshops for English students going to France were held in March 2004 at Homerton College, Cambridge and in June 2004 at Lancaster University. For French students beginning their year in England, a workshop was held at Cambridge in September 2004. Also in September 2004, separate workshops for the responsables/mentors were held in Paris (CIEP) and Cambridge (Homerton College).
The workshops had two main purposes:
- To enable us to gather data on the personality, attitudes and degree of preparation of the students before they went abroad.
The students were asked to complete two questionnaires so that we could assess the extent to which their subsequent behaviour toward their mentor may have been pre-conditioned:
a preparation questionnaire to determine the kind of preparation given by their home university for their year abroad.
a personality /psychological outlook quiz - a personality test known as the Big 5, designed to reveal levels of extraversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to culture.
In addition, the students were asked in advance to bring along to the workshop a 'Ness'ay - an essay on 'Englishness' for the French students coming to England and on 'Frenchness' for the English students going to France - to assess the way they viewed their future host countries and their propensity to form stereotypes.
- To enable us to explain fully to the students and mentors what participation in the project would involve
We gave out detailed instructions for note taking, explaining how to make recordings and notes for the project.
We also involved the students in role play based on situations they might find themselves in during their year abroad.
Towards the end of the students' assistantships, two retrospective workshops were held. A workshop took place in March 2005 in Cambridge for the French students and in April 2005 in Paris for the English students.
These allowed the project team to report on their findings and enabled
both assistants and mentors/responsables to reflect on their experiences and on the overall
administration of the assistants programme.