One final blog post before switching off for the holidays and a few bits and pieces to catch up with from end of semester activities. So, in no particular order…
Many congratulations to former French at Stirling PhD student Stefanie van de Peer whose edited collection Animation in the Middle Eastwill be out very soon with IB Tauris and promises to be a great new addition to the field of Animation Studies. We’ll be ordering it for Stirling University Library, of course!
And thanks to the group of French at Stirling undergraduates who found the time to go to Graeme High School in Falkirk to talk to pupils there about the opportunities that open up through the study of languages. Our Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques, organises our Student Ambassador scheme which, as he says, “relies entirely on the good will of students who, given the opportunity, are keen to share their love for languages. No-one is better placed to reach out to pupils who might never have considered pursuing with a language at school, or who might think that the sole purpose of studying a language is to become a teacher. We are very fortunate at Stirling to have a combination of volunteers that includes people with prolonged experience abroad and even native speakers. This is also the result of good relations and collaboration between the University and local authorities.” This visit to Graeme High follows on from an equally successful visit to Wallace High earlier in the semester and we were particularly pleased to get one of our visiting Erasmus students involved with the December visit.
Thanks also to the colleagues and postgrads who came along to Cristina Johnston and Charlotte Lange’s Study Day on crime fiction earlier in December, and to those who attended the public reading and Q&A the same evening with leading Scottish crime fiction author Craig Russell. The papers presented during the day included one by Cristina Johnston on the hit French crime series Engrenages and a paper by Charlotte Lange on Mexican crime novels, as well as contributions from our colleague in Creative Writing, Liam Bell, talking about Malta as crime scene in his next novel, Creative Writing PhD student Lorna Hill who spoke about invisible victims and Ailsa Peate (University of Liverpool) on Cuban crime fiction. Miriam Owen – a former postgrad on our Publishing Studies programme – was also on hand to screen her short documentary about the Iceland Noir book festival.
Plenty to look forward to in the Spring, too, with a visit from our colleague Lucie Herbreteau from Angers who will be teaching some classes on our final semester core language module while she is in Stirling. And we’re looking forward to welcoming back Bill Marshall after his semester’s research leave which has – most recently – included a plenary on ‘Queering Guyane’ at the ‘Imagining the Guyanas/Across the Disciplines’ conference hosted by the Université Paul Valéry-Montpellier III.
In the meantime, though, the University is about to close for the break and we wish you all de joyeuses fêtes!
Teaching ended here last Friday and our students have just finished their oral exams and handed in last essays of the semester so – apart from now waiting for feedback and grades… and the occasional exam in other subjects – it’s time to settle into the festive break until the new semester in January. To mark the occasion, our Language Assistants Brigitte Depret (for French) and Maria Sanchez (for Spanish), organised a pre-Christmas get-together for Year 3 and 4 students yesterday and Brigitte has very kindly written the following post with plenty of positive thoughts on the semester that’s ending from those in attendance!
‘As the semester is drawing to a close, and the exams are over, a Christmas party co-hosted by our Spanish colleagues, was the perfect opportunity to ask our 3rd and 4th year students what the highlights of the semester have been for them.
Colm, a final year BA Hons French and Spanish student, has found the shift back to Stirling after his Semester Abroad in Spain challenging but says “we were lucky to have extra oral classes this year. These were really helpful to me. We are also lucky to have very friendly staff here, and interesting classes to keep us motivated.” Colm’s fellow final year French and Spanish student, Luise says she is “really happy with the language class where the students are encouraged to take part. Our small classes are ideal to work in and it makes learning French a very enjoyable experience.”
David, Lysiane, Conni and Jennifer, who are all also taking both French and Spanish in their final year, were equally positive about the past semester. David enjoyed both the weekly written and spoken language classes this semester: “With Mathilde, in our Spoken Language class, we speak about current affairs, French culture and French society, which keeps us up-to-date with everything we should know about France. It’s a class-based discussion, with lots of interaction in a relaxed atmosphere. I was lucky to have Cristina for written language. As a teacher, she is very approachable and always there to help. Anytime you need support, she’s there.” For Lysiane, “Talking about current affairs, politics have been especially helpful to understand the French society. My teachers were all lovely, especially Cristina who did help a lot in translation. It has helped me to expand my vocabulary and gain more confidence. It was also a great human experience. At Stirling, there’s a real feeling of community.” And Conni and Jennifer are clear that “Our confidence has improved a lot, thanks to great tutors.”
Alongside the weekly oral classes, our French Language Assistants, Brigitte and Mathilde, also scheduled shorter individual and paired slots for further opportunities to speak French throughout the semester for our Year 3 and 4 students, something that seems to have been particularly appreciated by Brett: “I really enjoyed the course, because it opens lots of room to progress, especially because of the extra one-to-one language slots we were offered this year. I am glad I had the opportunity to improve in a well-structured environment and thanks to small classes.” And for Anna, a Year 3 French and Spanish student, the “highlight was the written class which I enjoyed very much. The articles we read in class were really interesting. They widened my knowledge in the realm of politics and French society.”
Determined not to be out-done, our Year 2 students also got into the festive spirit, deciding to wrap up the semester with a Xmas Jumper challenge during their Language Class. The idea came after they talked about fashion as one of the topics of the Language class in November. They wanted to do something funny and memorable, and then the idea of a Hawaiian shirt came up… Alas, weather not permitting, they had to give up on that idea and Xmas jumper, it was! Two students arrived dressed as Santa with some balloons and nice treats for everybody, while the majority, including our tutor had on their very fashionable jumpers…
For Jack, who is in the 2nd year of his BA Hons in French and Spanish with Professional Secondary Education, the “Langage Parlé sessions have been relaxed, fun and informative. I greatly look forward to this class every week where we just sit down and spend an hour speaking French. Whether it’s stereotypes or Siberian Skiing, fashion or Facebook, the LP class has given me the opportunity to improve my ability to express my opinions and I feel more confident using French in conversation.”
Another group of dynamic students was also up for the Xmas jumper challenge. On that occasion, Rebecca (in the middle, below) went the extra mile to bring us chocolates, cupcakes and biscuits. Who said we can’t speak French, learn and have fun at the same time?!!
And finally, for Amy, who is in the 2nd year of her BA Hons in Primary Education with Modern Languages, “French this year has been great. I really enjoy the written grammar classes as it gives me the opportunity to practice the grammar that is so necessary for us during exams. Langage Parlé classes are also really good as you get the necessary practice speaking French in a very relaxed and unpressured setting. It’s been a really helpful and fun semester.”‘
Many thanks to Brigitte for putting together this blog post and to the students for their positive and kind words! Enjoy your break and joyeuses fêtes! We look forward to welcoming back our Year 4 students (and Year 2 and 1, of course!) in the New Year and to hearing tales of Semester Abroad adventures next Autumn from our Year 3 students.