Many thanks to Alexia, Claire and Pedro from our current final year cohort, and to Céline who is spending a semester on Erasmus exchange at Stirling, for having given up their time last week to meet with local school pupil Kimberley and to talk to her about studying Languages at University. Kimberley is currently in her final year at St Mungo’s High School in Falkirk where she is working on her Scottish Baccalaureate in Languages Interdisciplinary Project comparing undergraduate degrees in Languages at Scottish Universities with those offered by Spanish Universities. The meeting gave Kimberley a chance to ask questions about our students’ experiences of Study Abroad, their thoughts on Languages and employability and their own sense of how their language level has progressed over the course of their studies, all of which will feed into the overall project. Thanks to all for their time and good luck to Kimberley with the project!
Tag: Applicant Day
One of the topics that frequently comes up in conversation at Open Days and Applicant Days, as well as with our current students, revolves around the question of the jobs that Languages students go on to do. As many of the posts on this blog show, there are more answers to that question than you might expect, ranging from language teachers to commercial coordinators for major wine exporters, from translators to financial crime analysts with much, much else in between. For many of our students, the benefits of languages in terms of their employability become clear while they are still studying and find themselves taking on part-time or vacation jobs where their languages make them a real asset to a particular company or workplace. And, in return, that workplace-based experience of using language skills brings its own benefits to students in terms of their fluency, confidence, communication skills and all-round employability.
To give a sense of what this can actually mean in practice, we’re very pleased to get a chance to post the following article by Andrea Kolluder who is currently in her 4th semester and who has a part-time job working for a local distillery:
‘Learning French has had its many challenges. I have often found it difficult to improve my spoken French, simply because I had a great fear of speaking French words out loud. The fear of pronouncing things wrong, and making terrible mistakes with grammar would pull me back from speaking any of the French I knew. I would have never thought that it would be the subject of whisky that would eventually break my wall of fear of the spoken language. Yet, in May last year, when I started working for a whisky distillery, I gained some much-needed confidence in my spoken French.
When asked at my interview about whether I thought myself capable of doing guided tours around the distillery in French I said yes without hesitation. I wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone. The concept of speaking French to native speakers – tourists with many questions no less – was terrifying at first. But like with many things, once you do it the first time, the next time becomes easier, and so after the first French conversation, the next one suddenly seemed a lot less frightening.
Thankfully my interactions have all been positive, which really helped. French-speaking visitors seem to always be glad to find a French speaker willing to explain the mystery of whisky to them in their native language. In return for a French tour, they were always patient and understanding even when it took me a lot longer to explain certain things to them. They would help me find words I couldn’t find off the top of my head or wait until I finally realised the words I was missing. The best part was that in the end, despite pronunciation or grammar mistakes, I could get meaning across. People were actually understanding my French. And of course, the best motivator of all, was that little praise that my French was very good, just as they were saying goodbye.
A job in tourism is a great one for making you realise how much you can communicate even without words. When you do know a few words though, the quality of the conversation grows for both sides. After many challenging language situations from disinterested teenagers to very curious families, I have built an interesting set of miscellaneous vocabulary about whisky in the French language. And now, I look forward to using it even more often.’
Many, many thanks to Andrea for taking the time to write this blog post and for patiently waiting for me to actually get it online!
A few weeks ago, three of our students (Stefano, David and Ross) were invited to McLaren High to act as Student Language Ambassadors and to talk to a wide range of pupils about their own experiences of studying Languages at University. The visit was a great success and I’m delighted to be able to pass on Stefano and David’s accounts of their day:
Stefano: “Why did you choose to study Languages at the University?… What does it mean to be a Language Student?… Is it true that you can then travel a lot?… These are just few examples among the several questions we were asked at McClaren High School in Callander by crowds of enthusiastic and curious pupils of different ages during our visit as Language Ambassadors on 9 February.
This semester I have been asked by the French Department to represent Stirling, together with my colleagues and friends David and Ross, in an ambassadorial role for the promotion of the languages at University level and I am glad to have the possibility to share here some of the highlights of our visit. In two words: great experience!
One of the language teachers from McClaren High School, Mr Alistair Brown, picked us up early to give us the chance to deliver a brief presentation at the pupils’ general assembly in the morning. More than 150 students attended and it was really good to get a chance to talk to them about our own experiences and the many opportunities that languages (and Stirling University) can offer.
After the initial gathering, David, Ross and I were asked to go to different classes with some of the teachers from the school in order to talk to smaller groups of pupils more broadly about what studying languages at the University really means.
My first class was French, Higher and Advanced Higher, with David. There, we told them our different experiences as language students at Stirling, focusing both on the possibilities in terms of jobs and travel and on the reasons that led us to undertake this path. It was great to share our passion for languages with interested pupils, hoping to make them realise how fascinating and convenient knowing more than a language can be! Most of the students in class immediately engaged in an interesting group-conversation, asking us questions and sharing with the rest of the class their thoughts and expectations about the possibility to further their knowledge of French.
During the class that followed, things got even more interesting; after another short talk about my experiences as an international language student, the teacher asked the class to put some good French into practice by practising “la conversation orale” together and by…asking me to teach them a bit of Italian in exchange! We all had great fun practicing our French and trying out some simple Italian sentences, because, after all, who knows? Maybe some of them will eventually end up studying Italian too in the future!
After a break, Ross and I attended a class together where we talked more specifically about the possible careers available with a Language degree. Once more, we did not miss the opportunity to have some fun with languages; knowing that we are respectively fluent in Italian and Spanish, the teacher asked me and Ross to try a “multilingual” conversation to see whether or not we could understand each other! Quite surprisingly, we managed to get through a short dialogue and we showed how knowing more languages can in fact lead also to great fun.
For my last class of the day, I went to another French class with David, where the pupils were especially interested in our experiences at the University of Stirling. We told them how and why we decided to come to Stirling to study Languages by sharing with them some of the amazing opportunities that our University can offer, from excellent quality in teaching and different and exciting experiences abroad to the numerous clubs and societies where it is possible to meet friends from all over the world and, once again, to engage and learn different languages.
To our great surprise and teachers’ astonishment, some of the pupils we met on that day immediately asked for the forms to pursue the study of languages at their Higher classes for the next year! Donc, ça a été une journée très spéciale!
It was a great honour and a pleasure to represent Stirling and Languages on this special occasion. I personally believe that, as language students, we have a huge opportunity (and responsibility) not only for ourselves, but for our future societies in terms of the capacity to understand and meet people from different cultures and it was amazing to share the beauties of this journey with the younger generations.”
David: “Taking part in the Student Ambassador initiative at McLaren High, near Callander, was a genuinely enriching and fun experience for me. I went with two other students, Stefano from Italy and Ross from Scotland. We thought that trying to convince students to pick languages as their Highers would be a difficult task but it turned out that the students were really interested in what we had to say. In fact, the pupils were extremely curious, interested and engaged, asking us many questions ranging from our favourite type of food to why we had chosen to study languages. It was quite tiring talking to different classes about the same topic but the questions were varied and we really enjoyed the pupils’ willingness to participate.
I think this initiative can have a very positive effect on high school pupils as, in the past few years, language teaching has been declining in Scotland. Many students don’t realise the importance of learning languages, especially nowadays in such a globalised society. Many told us they didn’t think it was necessary to learn another language as “everyone speaks English”. This mentality is exactly what we are trying to get rid of; they don’t realise that Spanish, for instance, will soon be the most widespread language around the world, in front of English and Chinese. I am hoping that after our discussions at the high school, we will hopefully have inspired the pupils to take an active interest in languages, even if they don’t choose it as one of their study options.
Being from a bilingual background myself, I have first-hand experience of the advantage of speaking more than one language and I hope to return to the high school as a language assistant and further encourage students to realise the potential of learning another language. Overall, it was a very eye-opening experience and I would love to take part in such an initiative again.”
Many thanks to Stefano and to David for sending these blog pieces, and to all three of our Student Language Ambassadors for having made the time to undertake this visit. We’re looking forward to continuing our visits in local schools – and schools beyond the local area – over the weeks and months ahead. And if any of this has made you curious about studying Languages at Stirling, come and meet us at one of our upcoming Applicant or Open Days.
First and foremost, “Happy New Year! Bonne Année!” to you all! 2017 marks Stirling’s 50th anniversary so we’re looking forward to a great year of events and celebrations, and to more profiles of students who have studied French with us for the past half-century. We’re also going to continue our series of profiles of current French at Stirling students and that seems an ideal place to pick up this blog after the festive season so, without further ado, a great new article by one of our current Year 2 students, Stefano Intropido:
“Bonjour! My name is Stefano and I am a Second year undergraduate (BA) in International Politics and Modern Languages (French) here at the University of Stirling. I come from Milan, a huge city in the North of Italy, so this is also my second year living abroad in such a wonderful country as Scotland. I have been asked several times why I decided to move so far from home and to study French right here and not elsewhere, and it is not always the easiest thing to explain, I guess. When I was also asked by the French Department to write a post for this blog, I was really pleased and I thought it would be nice and useful, especially for new students, to say a bit more about what brought me here and why I enjoy studying French at Stirling so much.
First and foremost, I have always been really keen on the English language and Anglophone culture, since I was in primary school when I first started learning it. Therefore, since I was a child I had been telling myself that one day I would study in the UK and especially in Scotland, too beautiful a country not to live in one day. I was also generally interested in languages as in Italy I started studying French too when I was 11 in Middle School; after that, I decided to go on with both languages and I thus attended a bilingual course at a scientific High School in Milan for 5 years. That was a hard time as the school was extremely demanding, but definitely rewarding. For French alone, we had classes to learn grammar, oral skills and the history and literature of France from the origins until modern times.
When it came to decide which University to apply to, I really had no idea where to go. I was – and still am – deeply interested in international and diplomatic studies, but at the same time I did not want to lose my linguistic abilities. In fact, I wanted to put them into practice in a way I had not tried before. Therefore, I spoke to my English High School teacher and she recommended I should have a look at Stirling since she thought that it could be the right place for me. And she couldn’t have been more right! I looked carefully at the courses offered by the University of Stirling and I was extremely glad to find the possibility to combine so many of my passions: going abroad to live in Scotland, international studies and languages all together! The University really does offer a great level of flexibility in its courses and a highly valuable combinations of subjects; I therefore decided to apply for a BA in International Politics and Modern Languages, with French, and I am really enjoying it so far!!!
Mais on parlait du français… When I came to the Applicant Day and had the opportunity to talk to members of the staff in the French Department, I immediately had the feeling of a great environment where I could really enhance my abilities as a student and, most importantly, as a person. Both lecturers and tutors are all truly keen on helping when students reach them out to seek support and guidance. At the beginning I was a bit worried I might “re-study” what I had already learnt in High School about France, but I was soon pleased and surprised to see that all the materials and topics covered in the culture stream are totally new and highly related to the wider spectrum of French culture rather than just to France’s literature in itself; this makes every single class a new discovery and a challenge. To conclude, my time here at Stirling has really strengthened my abilities in French and I do look forward to what is coming next! I would undoubtedly recommend studying French at the University of Stirling: best choice ever!”
Many thanks to Stefano for starting the New Year with this post and we hope you enjoy the semester ahead!
Alongside our articles by former students of French at Stirling, we thought it would be good to post a few profiles of our current students, to give you a sense of who studies with us, how they end up at Stirling, what they make of the campus and of their classes… We’re kicking off this series with a profile of one of our first year students, Eilidh Wynd, and there’ll be more to come over the weeks ahead:
“I am Eilidh Wynd and I am currently studying International Management with European Languages and Society. Despite not living on campus, I still feel a sense of belonging to a friendly and welcoming community here at the university. From the classes to the sports teams, you are immediately included and everyone can be part of the university life as the subjects and extra-curricular activities are wide ranging.
I originally intended studying at Strathclyde University as I didn’t want to be too close to where I was brought up. However, after attending the Stirling university applicant day and their original open day I knew I wanted to study here. The language department staff were welcoming and enthusiastic when I visited and encouraged me to come to Stirling. This was also supported by the student ambassadors who sounded as though they really enjoyed the course. I now look forward to an exciting four years ahead.
I am studying both French and Spanish and have experienced at first-hand how understanding and caring the staff are. All my French tutors have been extremely considerate and supportive, which I cannot thank them for enough. I am particularly enjoying the cultural side of the course which I had not studied in depth before. Discovering the history and customs of modern day France brings a greater understanding of its people and language.
I would without doubt encourage any prospective students to come to the University of Stirling to study French and enjoy all that the university has to offer.”
Thanks to Eilidh for this blog post and we look forward to giving you a chance to get to know more of our students over the coming weeks.