Tag: Beginners French

French and English at Stirling: ‘I’m so excited for next year!’

2017 Paige Hepburn Student Profile PicWhat better way to start the new week than with another student profile? Paige Hepburn has just finished the first year of her BA Hons in French and English and has sent us this post with her thoughts on the past year and the semesters ahead:

“My name is Paige Hepburn and I have just finished my first year at Stirling University. I had my heart set on Stirling since high school because of the option to do a combined degree. I want to become a high school English teacher so the idea of doing Education alongside my English degree really appealed to me.

In first and second year at Stirling University you have the opportunity to choose three subjects, which is the perfect chance to explore your options and pursue your interests. I chose French as my optional module because I thoroughly enjoyed studying it at school and because of my personal ambitions to be fluent in French, but I had never thought about doing a French degree.

I chose the Beginners’ module because I had been out of education for a few years before attending University and was worried I’d forgotten everything. I’m so glad I did! The Beginners’ modules are designed to bring a complete beginner up to the appropriate level. For me, the course was a fast-paced refresher and consolidation of everything I had learned so far. My seminar tutor, Brigitte Depret, was fantastic. She was so enthusiastic and really brought the French to life, and the fact that she was a Native French speaker was a bonus!

By the end of my first year I realised I had enjoyed French so much that couldn’t imagine not studying it in the future so I changed my degree to a Bachelor of Arts with Honours in French and English Studies. French has opened my eyes to the option of teaching English as a foreign language, in France of course! At the end of next year, I will have the opportunity to spend a year in France, working as an English Language Assistant through the British Council which, as a future teacher, would provide invaluable classroom experience as well as the perfect setting to immerse myself in the French language. Studying French at Stirling also gives you the opportunity to study abroad in France or a French-speaking country as part of your course. I can’t wait to embrace these opportunities. I’m so excited for next year!”

Many thanks to Paige for sending this post and we’re looking forward to seeing where the next few years will take you, both in terms of time abroad and on the modules that lie ahead!


International Graduates

More catching-up with recent graduates and tales of their lives since they finished studying with us. Today’s tales both happen to come from Scandinavian graduates… first, Silje Volden, from Norway, and Terry Karpathakis, from Sweden.

Silje graduated from Stirling in 2013 with a BA Hons in English Studies and French: “I originally chose Stirling because of its opportunity to do French for beginners. It was also on the list of universities that the Norwegian organisation which helped me apply co-operated with. In addition, the pictures of the surroundings and campus looked amazing!

2016 Volden Loch Lomond kayak club Feb
Loch Lomond trip with Uni kayak club


During my time there I enjoyed both the English and French part of my studies. Stirling is also great for past-time activities and I tried to enjoy that to the full as well of course. I went on exchange to Geneva, Switzerland for my 2nd semester 3rd year. That certainly helped my language skills a lot and this compulsory time abroad was also a reason that I chose this course.

2016 Volden Unige logo Feb


One of my favourite modules during my stay in Stirling was a module on Post-War France with Jason Hartford. This made me love history once again and was just so incredibly interesting on a cultural, as well as a social level.

After graduating and taking a year to travel, I did a one-year teaching course here in Norway to become a qualified teacher (like you can in Scotland). I am now a secondary school teacher (kids aged 12-15). I teach English and French, where English is a compulsory subject and French is not. This means that, often, the French groups are more motivated and can progress quicker. However, a difference between classes and groups is always interesting.

I certainly appreciate that I did French, as it certainly made me stand out and landed me a job. French-English was a great combination both for being relevant during my studies and after.”

We continue to offer that route into French via the Beginners’ stream for students who don’t have a Higher (or equivalent), overseen by our Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques. Students in those classes focus on intensive language learning for the first two semesters, before beginning to study literary texts and films in Semester 3 (still alongside intensive language learning), and then merging with the non-Beginners in Semester 4. From that point onwards, there’s no further differentiation between Beginners and non-Beginners and, every year, we’re delighted to see a cluster of former Beginners among our successful graduates.

Thanks to Silje for this article and best wishes for the future!

From student to tutor: Experiencing French at Stirling

One of the new faces among our Teaching Assistants this year is a former MSc student at Stirling, Brigitte Depret. After studying and graduating in English and Literature and also completing a BEd in France, Brigitte moved to Scotland in 2009 and, in 2012-13, completed our MSc in Translation and TESOL. For her final dissertation project, for which she obtained a First, Brigitte worked on ‘Keeper’, a journal by Andrea Gillies.

She has been teaching English and French for 28 years and has continued to build her teaching skills and responsibilities since Autumn 2013 by working as a Teaching Assistant on our undergraduate modules in French, as well as continuing to work as a free-lance translator and interpreter.

Here’s what she has to say about life in French at Stirling: “A teacher is always in the process of learning, (I’m still learning from my students!) and if we want to help them make it to the top, we have to get them from where they come from and encourage them onto stepping stones together. What I know for sure is that not only can I talk with no bias about my experience as a student at Stirling but I can, now, as a member of the teaching team, have a very accurate picture of our French department from the inside. And, most importantly, the view from the inside remains faithful to the one I had from the outside – one that allows me to belong to a place of openness, culture and language discovery with dedicated people working with enthusiastic students.

Photo credit: Heather Moya
Photo credit: Heather Moya

Why Stirling?
You may think that, because I’m French, I’m biased and you expect me to try convince you how it would be great for you to embark on a degree in French at Stirling…

But, first things first: I have studied in various universities in the course of my life. Some were just like mere factories set in the heart of a city, in a dull and concrete environment where I dealt with a generation of academics, who, for the most part were as rough and dull as the concrete of the buildings, brandishing their wand of knowledge, charging against us, making us feel how small us, poor freshers, were. Somehow, despite their obvious academic skills, the magic of creating the sparkle amongst us, of quenching our thirst for the know-how and know more, was hampered for most of us. As a result, about 70% of the students dropped out of language classes, and their future was doomed. (By comparison, I still have 80% of the beginners who started last semester. So, do you think I’m still biased?)

Stirling is also recognised as one of the most beautiful campuses in Europe making it the ideal place in which to study. The University’s beautiful, unique, enticing settings are grassy, leafy, ‘golfy’, hilly, watery (not only thanks to the occasional rain… but, more importantly, thanks to the lovely loch with its swans and mallards… but I digress!).

Photo credit: Heather Moya
Photo credit: Heather Moya

What you will get with us

At Stirling, I’ve been on either side of the road. First, as a student and now as a teacher. What I’ve found at Stirling, and especially within the language department, is a community where teachers and students work in concert. What you will find at Stirling are lecturers/teachers/language assistants who do not necessarily want to promote France or Frenchness (we are way beyond these stereotypes). We, as a team, want to help you to get the skills, the interest to speak and understand how the French-speaking world works. We want to expand your mind, whether it be through the very initiation of French, its history, its society or its literature. Bear in mind that in our department, our post-colonial specialists will invite you to embrace French as a world language, because ‘French’ literature isn’t only the prerogative of the natives of metropolitan France, but far beyond (Senegal, Morocco, Quebec…), while our film studies dynamic and specialists will open your horizons with their passion for the French-language cinema.

We will give you all the necessary feedback to improve yourself, to help you progress along the road and maybe have the pleasure to welcome you as a post-graduate student! So follow the signs… and we will guide you.”

Photo credit: Sarah Fryett
Photo credit: Sarah Fryett

Thanks to Brigitte for sharing her experiences of French at Stirling. If you’re interested in coming to study with us, you’ll find plenty of information about our undergraduate courses here and our postgraduate course information can be found by following the links here.