Month: March 2017

French at Stirling’s March Events

Just to round up this series of updates to the blog for just now, a quick overview of events French at Stirling staff have been involved in over the course of this past month.

On 18 March, Elizabeth Ezra gave a public talk on ‘Androids and Humans, or How Globalisation Makes Us Human’ as part of a series of talks chaired by Cristina Johnston on the University’s 50th anniversary Community Open Doors Day. This past week, Cristina was invited to introduce a public screening of Claude Chabrol’s Une Affaire de femmes at the Cameo cinema in Edinburgh, alongside Edinburgh postdoc Hugh Mcdonnell. The screening is part of Mihaela Mihai’s ERC-funded project on Greyzones.

And, winning the battle for the most far-flung location this month, Bill Marshall gave a paper on ‘’Lionel Soukaz: Historicity and Time’ as part of a panel on ‘Cruising the Seventies: Glancing Backwards at Queer Cinema’ at the SCMS conference in Chicago.

2017 Bill Chicago SMCS March

“Studying at Stirling makes me feel like I have come long way”: Erasmus exchange in Stirling

Every year, we get the chance to welcome to Stirling students from our numerous Eramus and other exchange partners across France and the wider Francophone world, either for one semester or for a full academic year, and I’m really pleased to be able to post this article by Quentin Rataud who is here for a Spring semester Erasmus exchange from our partner in Limoges.

2017 Quentin pic March“In 2015 I graduated from the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Limoges in France with a Bachelor of Arts in English Studies. I studied British and North-American civilisation and literature, as well as arts analysis, linguistics, and translation. I have been passionate about English since high school and ever since I have always been eager to learn more about the English-speaking world. After graduating, I decided to take my language studies further and applied to do a Master’s Degree in English Studies at Limoges.

Studying foreign cultures and a foreign language is marvellous, but I felt like something was missing in my university training. I felt the need to study abroad, so I applied to the Erasmus exchange programme to study in the United Kingdom. My home university offered me the opportunity to study at the University of Stirling. I had never been to Scotland before and to me it is the best way to meet the people and the wonders of this great nation.

I have chosen to study linguistics and translation here at Stirling to try to improve my English, besides practicing it every day. It turned out that I was right to do so! Things are different compared to what I was used to in France. There, I was taught about theory so now I have all the tools to improve and study in a more pragmatic way.

More than 2 months have already passed since I arrived in Scotland and I must admit that time flies. I have met many great people here, everything is different from home. I have the chance to live on campus, and I really enjoy it. Studying abroad provides you so many opportunities, it has considerably changed my everyday life and I feel happier about it.

The University of Stirling offers several programmes and services to help students, inter alia the Careers and Employability Service, which is helpful for students who do not exactly know what they would like to do after graduating. Also, the teaching staff is admirably available and never hesitates to help students, providing them information and suggestions for their future careers. I wish more universities would follow their example.

I am honestly glad to be here in Scotland. It makes me feel like I have come such a long way. As most students concerned about the future, studying abroad helped me to find my way. I cannot thank sufficiently all the people who allowed me to study at Stirling.”

Many thanks to Quentin for this article and for the very kind words about Stirling – we’re delighted you’ve enjoyed your semester here and hope you’ll keep in touch once you go back to France. And, who knows, maybe one day a PhD in Stirling will beckon…

“French is a global language”: from whisky tasting in Belgium to language teaching in Portugal

And, following on from Beth Young’s article, tales from another of our graduates, John McCallum who completed his BA Hons in International Politics and Languages in 2012 and whose language skills have seen him crisscrossing Europe for work ever since.

“My first role after graduating from the University of Stirling in 2012 in French and International Politics was as a sales and marketing executive with a whisky distillery, Springbank, in my hometown of Campbeltown, Argyll. During that year I had the chance to travel in Europe and work several times in francophone Belgium, visiting French-speaking stockists and taking whisky tastings in French. It was a great experience to be able to talk about your town and a local industry to people in their own mother tongue.

Using French in a professional situation can be different than just practising socially, especially when there is industry-specific vocabulary to learn to help you do the job better, and more time pressure on you to deliver it. On completing my studies I felt at a really strong level, though, and that is testament to the range of material we studied and the opportunity for conversation on various topics while in a classroom setting at Stirling.

Another reason for having the confidence to speak in the language was having spent a semester abroad in Paris, an unforgettable experience. As well as having the opportunity to attend Sciences Po, the popular pathway for some of France’s past and present political elites, I joined a football club and spent my Sunday afternoons in various banlieue towns in the Val de Marne area, learning a different style of football and what can only be described as ‘français des vestiaires’ on a thrice-weekly basis. I would echo another 2012 graduate Jonny Terrell’s post in saying I wish it could’ve been for the whole year!

But at Stirling too I always felt that my degree drew on great expertise in both languages and politics departments. I consistently had the support I needed and met lots of great people when studying there, from not only Scotland but from an international background.

After time spent working in newspaper reporting in Argyll, the odd weekend stint as a purser on a passenger RIB from Campbeltown to Ireland, and working with another distillery on the isle of Islay for a year under a French parent company, I have had lots of opportunities to use my language skills, both in the workplace and when simply wanting to make conversation and practise everyday French.

For the past six months I have been working as an English-language teacher in Braga, in the north of Portugal. I am working on improving my Portuguese, and although it is a complex language itself with tough grammar and pronunciation, I would like to try becoming a lusophone too, even when back living in Scotland. However, French is a popular lingua franca here given the immense movement of people and familial links established between the countries during the past 60 years and has saved me a few times when the other person in the conversation hasn’t had a word of English!

It shows that learning a global language like French can have practical uses much more diverse than you originally imagined. I would thoroughly recommend Stirling as a place to learn the language.”

Many thanks – obrigado! – to John for sending this article and we look forward to finding out where your languages will take you next!

English Language Assistantship and New Adventures

The pace of the past few weeks of the semester means that there’s a bit of a build-up of blog posts in my inbox so, firstly, apologies for that but I’m trying to get them all online today to catch-up. Among other things, we’ve got two new profiles of recent graduates, starting with this article by Beth Young who graduated with a BA Hons in French and Law last year and who has spent the year since her graduation working as an English Language Assistant.

2017 Beth Young pic March“My semester abroad in my third year at Stirling was the highlight of my degree. After returning home from this amazing opportunity, I was especially keen to travel again. At the beginning of last year, upon approaching the end of my four years at Stirling, I decided to apply to the British Council to be an English Language Assistant with the hope of being able to see more of France and improve my language. 

A few months after being accepted, it was finally confirmed that I had been allocated to work in a vocational high school the Académie of Versailles, which not only covers the town of Versailles itself, but also a huge area spanning up to the north of Paris. I had only spent two days in Paris in the past but had loved it, so I was excited at the opportunity to spend time there and really get to know it. 

As well as being delighted about the prospect of spending the year abroad, I was also excited to be able to teach English. I had volunteered in a local primary school at home, which was an amazing opportunity so I felt grateful that I was able to enhance my skills by being able to teach older pupils too. It has been great to experience a school system which is so different to the one that I know back home. Thanks to this role, I have learned to deal with a different set of challenges and to think on my feet when lessons do not quite go to plan. I have gained a lot of confidence from having to teach large groups of pupils and whilst I hope that I have successfully taught the students a bit about my culture, they have definitely taught me a lot about their language and culture too.

There have been many benefits to living so close to Paris. I have had friends come to visit me and I visited Disney for the first time, which was a really fun experience. Another main advantage of living close Paris is that one of my oldest friends and I have been able to visit one another easily. With her living in London, she is only a two hour and a half hour train ride away, which is closer than when at home in Scotland. I enjoy the fact that there is always something to do in this city, whether it be visiting famous landmarks, shopping on the Champs Elysées or discovering which bars have the best happy hours. It has been lovely to get to know the city well. 

As I start to reach the final weeks of my year abroad and I reflect on the time I have already spent here, I can truly say that this has been an excellent experience for improving my French and getting to know a new place. I am looking forward to the weather becoming warmer as spring begins and being able to appreciate the beautiful City of Light in the sunshine as I think ahead and decide where my next adventure will be.”

Many thanks to Beth for taking the time to send us this post and good luck, both for the remaining weeks of your ELA and for the adventures that doubtless lie ahead. We look forward to hearing tales of them!

 

Teaching Award Nominations

It’s the time of semester when the nominations are announced for Stirling’s annual RATE Awards or the ‘Recognising Achievement in Teaching Excellence’ awards, to give them their full name. The RATEs have been running since 2010 with students nominating staff across a wide range of categories from Faculty awards for Excellence in Teaching to the Fantastic Feedback Award. As in previous years, French at Stirling staff feature among the nominees, with Jean-Michel DesJacques, Mathilde Mazau, Brigitte Depret, Fiona Barclay, David MurphyElizabeth Ezra and Cristina Johnston all having been nominated. As well as offering an opportunity to blow our own trumpets a little, this is also a chance to say a collective thank you to the students who took the time to vote (both for us, as individuals, and just generally!). Merci!

And congratulations, too, to our Literature and Languages colleagues who’ve been shortlisted for a range of awards. Beatriz Basso, in Spanish and Latin American Studies, and Katie Halsey and Angus Vine in English are all on the shortlist for Excellence in Teaching in Arts and Humanities. And Angus has also been shortlisted for the Professional Mentoring Award, along with our Religion colleague, Alison Jasper. Good luck to them all – the award ceremony itself takes place on 19 April.

Interpreting Taster Sessions

We had mentioned, a few weeks back, that we were going to be running a series of Interpreting ‘taster sessions’ for our final year students to give them a chance to try out the technology in the University’s new interpreting suite. These sessions have now taken place – run by two of our Literature and Languages Teaching Assistants, Allan Rae and Fanny Lacôte – and they were a great success, offering, in the words of one student, an ‘excellent way to become familiar with the exercise of interpreting’ as well as a means of ‘exercising short-term memory and improving note-taking skills.’ We’re hoping to find a way to run more of these taster sessions next year so watch this space…

French at Stirling student heading to China

As has been mentioned elsewhere on this blog, this year we’re welcoming the first cohort of students on our double degree programme in Translation and Interpreting, run in partnership with Hebei University in China. A group of Stirling students – some doing French and/or Spanish but others from a range of subject areas – volunteered back in the Autumn semester to act as ‘buddies’ for these students to help them get to know Stirling (the University and the town) and to adapt to life in Scotland.

To help further with the transition from the initial 3 years of study in China to the final year here at Stirling, we have arranged for one of the buddies to get the opportunity to go to Hebei later this Spring – in just a few weeks now – to meet with next year’s students. All the buddies were invited to apply and, after a very competitive selection process, Elliot Knight, currently in the 4th semester of his BA Hons in French, was selected to act as our ambassador and to travel to China. With the departure date fast approaching, here are his thoughts on the trip that lies ahead:

2017 HNU Elliot photo March“I first heard about the buddy programme for HNU students at the beginning of Autumn semester last year. Immediately, I knew that it was something that I wanted to be a part of, as I have always had a keen interest in foreign cultures. The buddying programme has been rewarding in several different ways. Firstly, it has been an interesting cultural experience. The community of HNU students has been very kind in sharing aspects of their culture with me. A highlight of this for me was being invited to learn how to prepare Chinese dumplings, and then of course eating them afterwards. In exchange, I have shared aspects of Scottish culture with HNU students. An experience which was memorable for them was going to Settle Inn in Stirling, an old traditional pub, to listen to live Scots folk music. However, I have found that the real value of the buddying programme has been the friendships that I have fostered with HNU students; people that I would have been unlikely to meet without the buddying programme.

Of course, I am delighted that I have been selected to be Stirling’s student ambassador to HNU. Whilst I am there, I will be introduced to next year’s class of HNU students that will be coming to Stirling. I will be presenting to them the benefits of studying at Stirling University, and indeed studying in Scotland. I am proud to be representing Stirling University at one of its partner institutions abroad, as I have had a great experience here and I will be delighted to share that with our partners in China. I am also looking forward to the cultural aspect of the trip, as China is a place that I have never been to and I adore experiencing new places and cultures. Learning fluent Mandarin before I go may be a little tricky, however I will try to learn a little to use whilst I am there. I am grateful to the University for giving me this responsibility and I will represent the University of Stirling to the best of my ability.”

Many congratulations to Elliot on having been selected to represent the University in China, and thanks to all the buddies for the work they’ve been doing this year. Thanks also to the HNU students who are here this year and who’ve been taking the time to teach Stirling-based students about a range of aspects of life and studying in China. We will, of course, look forward to Elliot’s tales of his trip when he’s back on Scottish soil!