Month: November 2016

Informal French Conversation Session

Last week of teaching here and two of our PhD students, Fanny Lacôte and Fraser McQueen, are running a new informal French conversation group that will be meeting for the first time on Thursday 1st December in Pathfoot C22. It will take place between 6:00 and 7:00 PM, after which there will be an even more informal meeting with the Let’s Speak French Society at the William Wallace pub in Causewayhead for those who want to stay longer.

In order to make it easier for people to talk the group will have a theme, which on this occasion will be contemporary French music. There will be music chosen by the organisers to discuss, so those who aren’t sure what to talk about and just want a chance to practice their spoken French should feel free to come along!

Thanks to Fanny and Fraser for organising this and we hope there’ll be more meetings in the Spring.

Congratulations to French at Stirling Winter graduands!

Tomorrow is Winter graduation at Stirling so congratulations to all of our graduands but in particular to those who have taken French at some point as part of their degrees!

Among those will be two fantastic examples of where language studies can take you: Chris Ball whose studies have taken him to Strasbourg and back to Stirling and now to Germany where he’s working on a postdoc near Cologne and Claire Wright who, following on from Study Abroad in Mexico and a year completing her International Management and Intercultural Studies programme in Strasbourg, is about to embark on a career as Commercial Coordinator for Australia and New Zealand for France’s largest wine producer and exporter, Les Grands Chais de France. Many, many congratulations and have a great day!

Perspectives from Years 1 and 2

Following on from the profile of Mairi Edwards posted a little earlier today, another couple of profiles of current French at Stirling students. Doganay Cavusoglu is just completing his first semester of a BA Hons in French and Law, starting French in our Beginners’ stream, while Jasmine Brady is halfway through the second year of her BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society which means she is studying French and Spanish as well as Management.

It seems particularly appropriate to be posting these profiles of current students the day before our Winter graduations, news of which will follow!

2016-doganay-cavusoglu-profile-photo-nov16“My name is Doganay and I’m from Hertfordshire which is in the South East of England. I am currently a French and Law (BA) undergraduate at the University of Stirling. I have always had an interest in studying French but I did not know what I could combine with French. This led me to research a wide range of universities courses and I came across Stirling which was offering a varied selection of subjects such as French and Journalism; French and Business; French and Law and the list goes on.

My first impression of Stirling University was just ‘WOW’ on the Open Day. I mean the university speaks for itself – it has plenty of fresh air and lots of friendly people which makes it just a positive place to study and live. The University of Stirling has a very flexible degree program which allows students to study three modules per semester which I think is excellent as it gives the students the opportunity to study different modules. With regards to the French department, my experience has been really positive and the department are very organised with what they do and how they teach. We are now almost at the end of Semester I and I feel that I have learned and improved so much within a short period of time. Like many other French students, I am part of “Parlons Français”, which is Stirling’s French student society of Stirling. This society meets once or twice a week offering events such as cheese and wine nights, pub quizzes, French films, and many other opportunities to enhance your French and meet French native speakers. Overall, my experience at Stirling university gets better and better every day.” 2016-campus

“Bonjour! My name is Jasmine Brady and I am currently in my second year studying International Management Studies with European Languages and Society. I didn’t really know where I wanted to study before I chose the university of Stirling but as soon as I came here for an Open Day I knew it was the right place for me. The campus is absolutely breath-taking, a sight you certainly aren’t able to see on Glasgow or Edinburgh campuses. When I visited I had already researched the courses available and knew I needed to speak to the various (French and Spanish) departments to gain more information. Everyone I spoke to was friendly, knowledgeable and managed to answer every question I had… which was lots!

My experience with the department thus far has been great. The tutors are always there when you have a question, need help or just want someone to talk to. I have particularly enjoyed the culture element of the French modules I have studied as I had never studied French culture in much depth before. I would absolutely recommend and encourage anyone thinking about studying French at the University of Stirling to do so as I’m sure when I look back in years to come on the friends I’ve made from my French classes, that the good times we’ve had will be among them as some of the greatest memories I have of my university experience.”

Many thanks to Doganay and to Jasmine for these blog posts and we hope you enjoy a well-deserved Christmas break!

Reaching the end of Semester I: ‘I’m excited to see where the rest of the year takes me!’

Only a couple of weeks until teaching and the inevitable oral exams and essay deadlines come to an end and this seems as good a time as any to update our series of profiles of current French at Stirling students with the following post by Semester 1 student Mairi Edwards:

“Salut, my name is Mairi and I am a first-year undergraduate student at the University of Stirling studying French and Religion. When I was asked by the French department if I was interested in writing an article for their blog, I jumped at the chance, but I also had no clue what to write about. So, I started to think, what would I have wanted to know a year ago when I was applying to study French at universities across the UK.

One of the first things that came to mind was the course content. This is an obvious one but something I think is very important. French at Stirling, at least in first year, is comprised of one lecture per week along with three seminars to improve speaking, writing and culture knowledge. I had studied all of those except the latter at school. So far, I have very much enjoyed learning about the history of France and some of the novels and films it has to offer. One of the main reasons I picked the University of Stirling was the flexibility the institution offered. I wanted the option to be able to study lots of different things during my time at university, and Stirling is perfect for that.

However, the main reason I chose Stirling was not because of the course flexibility or the distance from home; it was in fact the campus. From the age of eight I have wanted to come here. It all began with a school trip to see a pantomime that the university Drama Society had put on. I remember being so amazed by the university and how beautiful the campus was. Ever since that day, I was determined to attend university here. I can say wholeheartedly that my instincts were correct. Stirling is fantastic!

I’m lucky enough to be living on campus, which means on my way to class I get to take in the picturesque surroundings that the university has to offer. This is one of the many qualities that I love about Stirling. The campus is stunning, and I think it’s one of the most beautiful universities in the UK, but maybe I’m a little biased. I’ve met some wonderful people here at Stirling, and I think I’ve been very lucky to have such great flatmates. We get on really well, which was something I was apprehensive about before coming to uni. I wasn’t entirely sure if moving out was the best idea for me, but it has honestly been one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Of course, it has not all been easy. I had to get used to cooking for myself, cleaning up, and doing my own laundry. I have always considered myself to be quite an independent person, but university made me realise how much I relied on my parents. Simple things like deciding what to eat and what food to buy was something I struggled with a lot in the first couple of weeks, and still do.

University is not easy; in fact, it’s very difficult but I’ve had so much out of it already. The first week of classes was a shock to the system. The idea of having to prepare notes and do reading before class was something I couldn’t quite wrap my head around. At first, it didn’t make sense to me. University is very different from school, in that you must be your own motivator. The tutors will not nag you to do the work; it’s up to you to study. However, compared to what some of my friends at other universities have told me, Stirling is a lot more ‘hands-on’ than other institutions. The lecturers will go the extra mile to help you out but you must ask first. They aren’t psychic, so they can’t read your mind when you have no idea what’s going on. This was something else I struggled with at first: asking for help. At one point, I just had to admit to myself that I was confused, so I emailed my tutor and she was more than willing to help. I’m only a few months into my first semester at university, so I’m still very much new to the student life but I think it is starting to make sense.

Anyway, back to French. Languages have always been a passion of mine and they really interested me. I like the idea of being able to communicate with lots of different people and learning about new cultures. I have really enjoyed the French course so far. I was apprehensive about the culture side of the programme, as I had never studied this at school but it is one of my favourite parts of the course. The parlé section is also really fascinating, and I have learned many colloquial statements including ideas about sheep in waves (I don’t remember the exact translation) and numerous discussions about finding other words for ‘interesting.’ I’m sure Brigitte (my parlé tutor) will understand what I’m talking about…

It’s very strange to think that I have been at university for over two months now. It has gone by so quickly and before I know it, first year will be over. I’m very excited to see where the rest of the year takes me, and I’m looking forward to continuing my studies here at the University of Stirling.

Thanks for reading, à bientôt!”

Many thanks to Mairi for this blog post and enjoy the well-earned Christmas break!

Black History Month: Dakar 1966-2016

As part of Black History Month, French at Stirling’s David Murphy organised a series of events and film screenings in October to mark the 50th anniversary of the First World Festival of Negro Arts, held in Dakar in April 1966. These events emerged from research for his recently published book, The First World Festival of Negro Arts, Dakar 1966: context and legacies2016-david-dakar-book-cover-sept.

On 14 October, at the International Slavery Museum in Liverpool, there were screenings of two documentary films on the 1966 festival, followed by a panel discussion, ‘Dakar 66: Fifty years on’. Later in October, he was involved in more screenings/events as part of the 2016 Africa in Motion (AiM) Film Festival. On 28 October, he gave a talk on the 1966 festival at a symposium, ‘Havana-Dakar 1966: Capitals of an artistic and political revolution’, at the University of Edinburgh, and held a Q&A after screenings of two documentary films. Then, on 30 October, David introduced documentaries on the ‘Zaïre 74’ Festival (held in conjunction with the famous ‘Rumble in the Jungle’ fight between Ali and Foreman) and the 1966 festival, as part of another AiM screening. Finally, from 8-10 November, David was in in Dakar, Senegal, where he had been invited to speak at a conference to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the festival. The event featured academic papers and personal testimony from participants in the festival, and it received wide local media coverage. While in Dakar, David carried out further research on the 1966 festival, including filmed interviews with participants from the 1966 event.

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Life as a lectrice in France (Part II!)

It’s four years now since Fiona Mears completed her BA Hons in English and French at Stirling, and two years since she did her MSc in TESOL with us. The intervening period has seen Fiona working at a Language School in Edinburgh and taking up a post as a lectrice (ie an English Language Assistant) at the Université de Franche-Comté in Besançon back in Autumn 2015. Having been asked to stay on for a second year, Fiona is continuing to juggle the University-level teaching with work in a local Language School and has sent us an update on her adventures in France and in language teaching:

2016-fiona-mears-update-photo-nov16“Life continues in Besançon much as I left it in April, but with one major change: my two closest friends from last year have left, so my social life has taken quite a hit! Between seeing friends who are still here, though, and juggling my two jobs, I’m kept pretty busy. The new semester at the university got underway in September without any hitches and work resumed as normal at the language school after my five-month absence. At the university, things have been easier this time around. I’m teaching many of the same classes as last year, meaning that I know what I’m doing, much of the material is already prepared and I knew a lot of my students from last year which, if nothing else, was a blessing as it meant I didn’t have as many new names to learn. After the mild panic of having to teach it last year, phonetics is a breeze this semester. Even ‘transversal’ classes – language classes for non-specialists – are going more smoothly because I know what works well in the brochure and what to adapt. The only disappointment is that I don’t teach my favourite class from last year: 3rd year listening comprehension and oral expression. You win some, you lose some!

At the language school, too, I’m finding that lesson preparation comes more naturally and takes less time. I can reuse material from last year and, with experience, preparing new resources has become much easier. Back in September, I also started to ‘work’ with a lovely family, tutoring two teenagers in English once a week. I say ‘tutoring’: both of them speak almost perfect English having lived in the UK for a few years, so my role is to help them maintain their level. I go to their house, chat to each of them for a while and then stay for dinner. To be honest, I see it more as socialising than working!

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Teaching at the university finishes at the beginning of December, so I have just a couple of weeks to go. After that, I’ll have some invigilation to do, speaking exams to help with and I’ll be working at the language school right up until I head home for Christmas. I have a friend coming to visit in December, so our plan is to soak up the festive atmosphere by indulging in a spot of Christmas market hopping before flying home together on the 18th for a much-needed break.”

Thanks once again to Fiona for this update and enjoy the well-earned Christmas break when it comes!

“My time abroad has completely changed my life!”

Rachael Ringland graduated with a BA Hons in French and Spanish just over a year ago and we’re delighted to get a chance to post this update on what she’s been up to since graduating and how many doors a degree in languages has opened for her.

“It has been just over a year since I graduated. June 2015 was a slightly terrifying month because everything I had known for the past five years was coming to an end. At this point I should stress how much I genuinely loved university; it was an experience I could have never predicted.

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The University of Stirling itself is fantastic, from its breath-taking scenery to the fantastic amenities on campus, it truly is an amazing place to spend your days at uni. I had the privilege of studying French and Spanish, and I honestly couldn’t fault anything within the department. The tutors are wonderful people, there’s a great range of modules in 3rd and 4th year which allow you to concentrate on your strongest or favourite subject, and a lot of help and support readily available should you need it. For me, exams were sometimes a pain because both French and Spanish departments set their exams around the same time, but unlike many of my friends I was able to get everything over and done with extremely quickly (silver linings!).

It has to be said, though, that the best part about studying languages is the opportunity to live abroad. When I was at school, I considered myself to be a home bird; I had never left Northern Ireland for longer than a couple of weeks before I came to Stirling, and to be honest the thought of living in Scotland was terrifying at first, never mind in France or Spain where I didn’t even speak the language (fluently!). But I went. I chose to work in France as an English Language Assistant then study in Spain the next year.

I could get carried away so easily here, so I will try not to babble! My time abroad has completely changed my life: I have made so many friends from all over the world and met so many amazing people who have had a massive impact on my life. I’m actually just back from a visit to Wales, where I was visiting two girls I met only four years ago whilst we were in France. I now consider them two of my closest friends and I can’t even imagine my life without them. The experience of teaching English was so surreal. I was in a Lycée and my students ranged from 15-22 and every one of them was at a different level. I say surreal because at the time I was only 20 and many of my students were older than me! They found it hysterical, obviously. Studying in a different language was a pretty intense experience too, but it really paid off. In fact in my last semester I was much more confident and obtaining better marks in exams than before!

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Since leaving university I have started working. At the beginning I was considering going into teaching, but having taken so long to decide I actually missed my application deadlines (awkward) so I decided to get a job in the meantime to keep myself busy and to earn my own money after having lived on student loans for so long. I applied for everything going for a month or two until I finally got a job at Holland and Barrett. Interestingly enough, my time abroad and my degree was a massive deciding factor during my first interview. I applied for a supervisor role, and obviously my future boss had to decide whether or not I was responsible enough to be in charge of other people! She also had to gauge how capable I was to do the mountain of training I had to undertake before being fully qualified. I assured her I was well used to studying and working hard, and thankfully she took my word for it! She was very impressed that I had spent time abroad and was amazed that I had teaching experience at the age of 20. I honestly believe that was one of the main reasons she hired me, so even though my interview wasn’t for anything language-based, my skills have proven to be completely transferable!

I am still working at Holland and Barrett over a year on and I genuinely love it. In May I attended the company conference (it was a Carnival conference!) and whilst there I attended a talk on the company’s expansion- we now have branches all over the world from China to UAE, and more importantly in Spain and Gibraltar. I am in the process of working my way through the training and climbing the company ladder so that one day I can go and run their new branch in Gibraltar (or France if they ever open one…). At the minute I am also looking in to TEFL and TESOL courses with a view to becoming a fully qualified English teacher. I decided that teaching French and Spanish is not, in fact, the route I would like to pursue, so I am building upon my experience as an ELA. It would give me much more flexibility teaching English, and it’s something I could use in any country should I decide to pack up and explore the world for another few years. At the moment I am leaning towards doing a course online, simply because it will allow me to continue to work full time and save up for any upcoming adventures I may plan! But I noticed Stirling is offering an MSc TESOL course too so my decision has been swayed again! Watch this space…”

We will, indeed, watch this space and hope to maybe get a chance to welcome Rachael back to Stirling to do that TESOL MSc! In the meantime, though, thank you for this blog post and all the best for the current job.