Parlez Vous - Learning French through songs and games


Stewarton Academy had previously worked in partnership with East Ayrshire Volunteer Centre and was keen to involve senior pupils in an intergenerational project. Timing was good, as the Volunteer Centre had just been awarded funding from the Change Fund to provide intergenerational volunteering opportunities for older people.

Hamilton Gardens Sheltered Housing is committed to The Reshaping Care Agenda for Older People, and recognises the positive impact of using an intergenerational approach; and the benefits of involving the wider community. Most residents do not leave the unit, therefore the days are very long without activities.

The aim of the project (Parlez-vous) was to provide the pupils with a non-traditional learning environment outside of school; and to give the older people a new interest. Parlez-vous provided the pupils with the opportunity to improve their language skills by researching and preparing materials to teach older people French though a variety of activities through quizzes, games, singing and role-play.


  • Breakdown barriers between generations
  • Provide the pupils with a new learning experience outside of the school gate
  • Increase confidence of all participants
  • Move from a dependent role by encouraging all participants to take responsibility for the project.
  • Break down isolation and increase social networks especially for the older people
  • Introduce the young people to active citizenship through volunteering

What did we do?

Eleven older and five younger volunteers, aged 16 – 91, were recruited from Stewarton Academy and Hamilton Gardens Sheltered Housing. A member of staff delivered a short information session/recruitment drive to a group of pupils and residents.

To ensure the younger and older people were comfortable in each other’s company the two groups received two preparatory sessions addressing values, attitudes and stereotyping before meeting.

Over 14 weeks, between September and March, sessions of 1 – 1 .5 hours took place. This excluded two days of filming.

Parlez-vous sessions included colours, days of the week, café vocabulary, French bingo and singing. Learning French songs was met with such enthusiasm, that some of the older volunteers suggested writing role-play scenarios which could be filmed. Coverage included a French café scene and a mediaeval sing-song. The older volunteers took care of the props and decoration of the room, and the pupils researched costumes. Most of the participants were involved in writing the dialogue for the film.

Once edited, the film was shown to an invited audience, which included the Head of Schools and of Social Services, Elected Members, and Voluntary Arts Scotland. It was also shown at East Ayrshire’s Older People’s Conference; and at other intergenerational workshops.

The project was facilitated by a member of staff from the Volunteer Centre with support from the care co-ordinator at Hamilton Gardens. A free-lance arts worker was involved for a few sessions.

Benefits for the Community

  • Strong relationships and partnerships formed between the school and housing unit
  • Further gardening projects developed between the school and housing unit
  • Social inclusion
  • Improved intergenerational relationships

Benefits for the Younger People

  • Increased confidence and personal development
  • The project contributed to the ‘self and society’ part of the pupil’s “Higher in Personal Development”
  • Increased sense of responsibility
  • Qualified for a Saltire Award from Scottish Government for their voluntary efforts
  • Learned new skills e.g. project planning, budgeting, taking responsibility for sessions and presentation skills
  • Enjoyment of new experiences

Benefits for the Older People

  • Reduced sense of isolation
  • Opportunity to learn new skills
  • Increased confidence
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Decreased dependency on care staff
  • Improved attitudes towards young people


Funding provided by the Change Fund through Reshaping Care for Older People.
The Volunteer Centre (lead organisation) has secured another year of funding from the Change Fund and 2 years funding from the Big Lottery. This will provide funding to allow another five intergenerational projects to run between September 2013 – February 14.


  • Participants were invited to provide quotes
  • The DVD includes an interview with the care-co-ordinator


Pupils from the Academy qualified for a Saltire Award from Scottish Government for their voluntary efforts

Local Priorities

The revised priorities within the Community Plan for East Ayrshire highlights the need for intergenerational work to help reduce intergenerational tensions with the effect of reducing the fear of crime.

Scottish NPF Objectives

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).

The main NPF objective that this project contributes to is:

SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

These NPF objectives could also apply:

SAFER & STRONGER – Helping communities to flourish becoming stronger, safer places to live, offering improved opportunities and a better quality of life.

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

Scottish NPF Outcomes

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We live longer, healthier lives.

We live our lives safe from crime, disorder and danger