Tag: Cristina Johnston

“Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me”

Just before the blog takes a little break for a couple of weeks, two great articles for you. The first one here is by Alex Hill who just graduated with his BA Hons in French in June and has gone straight from graduation to internship, with career plans beyond that. The second article is by Jeanne Nozahic who has been away in Spain for her Semester Abroad and who has been reflecting on the experience generally but also in particular about what her success at obtaining a Stevenson Scholarship meant for her. Alex first…:

“A few days ago, I was lucky enough to receive an email from Cristina asking if I’d like to share a few thoughts on my time doing French at Stirling and my plans for the future, which I then realised I had accidently ignored for more than a week due to being so busy! This got me thinking to myself about how time has flown by since finishing my degree; as I write this it’s 28 days since my graduation (2.1, get in!) and 103 since the end of a coffee-fuelled, sleep-deprived few months spent balancing writing a dissertation on French politics whilst also trying to get my head round the art of translation.

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Dissertation Hand-in

 

Since then it’s been all go, having started an internship with Oxford-based triathlon events company IRONMAN UK in the Operations team in early May; a job which saw me head over to France a few days in to get a taste of what to expect on the job. As I should have expected, I was designated the role of interpreter (read: food order-er), and, after ordering a few sandwiches and coffees for lunch, I was greeted with high fives and comments regarding how awesome it was that I was able to speak French. That’s one of the perks of being able to speak a foreign language – it’s a skill not many people have so it gives you the chance to show off and feel smug every once in a while!

Joking aside, studying a French degree really is one of the most useful and coolest things I have ever done. When I first decided to study French at university, it was a case of “it’ll be cool to say I’m fluent, plus I can probably get a job as a teacher or translator afterwards”. What I have discovered in the last four years is that it is worth so much more than that; you develop oral and written communication skills to an incredibly high standard, something highly regarded by employers and essential not only from a working perspective but also in life in general. As well as this, you strengthen your critical, analytical and research skills from studying French literature and get to put this to the test in engaging and interesting class discussions. These skills are crucial in almost every job market, which explains why French graduates not only get jobs as translators and teachers, but in business, journalism and diplomacy amongst other domains. Furthermore, French gives you an understanding of (political, social and economic) culture in a range of francophone countries. It’s not only francophone countries this will prove useful in; if you can learn French you can learn any language! This makes you employable not only in Great Britain, but across the world, which it doesn’t take a genius to work out significantly increases your chances of finding a job.

I really believe I made the right choice coming to Stirling to study French. The campus has to be one of the most beautiful in the world, which makes looking out the library on a sunny day that little bit easier. The people are all friendly, and at the end of the day it’s good fun and everything you need is nearby. The French course itself is run by a dedicated team of lecturers, who put in a great deal of time to make every last module exciting and appealing, resulting in a varied course that not once did I find boring. As well as this, the lecturers are always more than willing to help and provide useful answers to queries and feedback. If you are thinking of, or about to start, studying French at Stirling, I would recommend the Quebec cinema module, run by Bill Marshall, or the Francophone Detective fiction module, run by Cristina (hopefully these will still be around!).

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Without doubt, however, the highlight of my time at Stirling was going on my semester abroad; it’s just such a different academic experience and results in your language skills coming on more than you thought possible. It improves your ability to adapt and improves your confidence, both as a French speaker and in general. You make lifelong friends and at the end of your time away, you feel a genuine sense of pride in yourself for coping with what at one point felt like a goliath-sized task.

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As for me, once I finish my internship, I will be moving back up to Stirling to start a job on the Enterprise Rent a Car Graduate Scheme as a Management Trainee. After finishing that I plan to return to Stirling to do a Master’s, followed by hopefully finding work in the investment industry. Having said that, there are a number of jobs in a variety of industries I find interesting and would like to do, and I wouldn’t mind running my own business one day. Thanks to my French degree, I am lucky enough to have a world of possibilities in front of me and I’m very excited about what the future holds. In the words of my favourite film La Haine, “Le monde est à nous” (the world is ours). Just in case you were worried that I’m not getting much chance to celebrate graduating by entering the big bad world of work straight away, I get two weeks between my internship and full-time job, during which I plan to escape somewhere sunny!

Finally, one final big thank you to everyone at the French department at Stirling and all the other staff who work so tirelessly to provide every one of us with a fantastic student experience.”

Many, many thanks to Alex for this great post, all the best for the rest of the summer (internship and holidays!) and good luck with the next steps! And yes, the Detective Fiction option is back in the Autumn…

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.

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Mid-Semester Catch-Up

Halfway through the mid-semester break seems a good point to catch up on various bits of news from Stirling staff and students. More to follow on some of these in the weeks ahead but, in the meantime…

This year is Stirling University’s 50th birthday and, as part of the year-long celebrations, the University is holding an Open Doors Day on Saturday 18 March. Lots of different activities are planned for the day – and all are welcome! – including a series of talks by academics from the School of Arts and Humanities with a French at Stirling contribution in the shape of a talk by Elizabeth Ezra on ‘Androids and Globalization, or How Cinema Makes Us Human.’ The talks will be chaired by French at Stirling’s Cristina Johnston.

In this anniversary year, we’re also welcoming to Stirling our first cohort of students on our new BA Hons Translation and Interpreting degree, in partnership with HNU in China. As a means of strengthening the ties between existing Stirling students and their HNU counterparts, a buddying scheme has been running since September 2016 with around a dozen Stirling students helping HNU students to get to know the University, the campus and the town, and generally helping them get used to life in Scotland. We thought it would be a great idea for one of the buddies to get a chance to travel to China to meet with next year’s HNU cohort this Spring so, after a very competitive selection process and with Faculty support, we’re pleased to announce that Elliot Knight (currently in the 2nd year of his degree in French) will be travelling to China to represent the University and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities in a few weeks. More tales to follow on that front!

Closer to home, we’ve also been able to send another group of Student Language Ambassadors into a local secondary school – McLaren High in Callander – to talk to pupils there about life as a Languages student and the opportunities that opens up in terms of Study Abroad, employability, travel, and so on. Stefano Intropido, David Vescio and Ross Brown took on this role as Language Ambassadors, in a visit jointly organized by Jean-Michel DesJacques, Cristina Johnston and McLaren High teacher Alastair Brown. Alastair was very impressed by our students’ performance, commenting that ‘they spoke very well in all classes, and at the assembly, where they got a spontaneous round of applause from the pupils. They gave very motivating accounts of their language-learning journey and responded very well to the pupils’ questions.’ We hope to continue sending our students out into schools as ambassadors over the weeks and months ahead.

As well as looking forward to receiving our copy of our former PhD student Stefanie van de Peer’s edited collection Animation in the Middle East, we’re also excited to learn that another former French at Stirling PhD student, Lizelle Bisschoff has a new AHRC-funded project on ‘Africa’s Lost Classics in Context’ with David Murphy as co-investigator. The project aims to bring a number of screenings of ‘lost African film classics’ to UK audiences, complemented by public and educational events and activities to contextualise the films for audiences, in collaboration with the five UK African film festivals, including Africa in Motion which was founded by Lizelle while she was doing her PhD. The project started in January 2017 and will run for a year.

Alongside all the usual work, assessments and other commitments our students have for the second half of the semester, we also have a number of teaching and research-related events coming up, involving both staff and students. Our Year 4 French students, for example, will get the opportunity to try out Interpreting Taster Sessions in late-February, early-March, taking full advantage of Stirling’s new interpreting suite. A number of our students will also be attending the Language Show Live at the SECC in Glasgow in a few weeks and 3 of our current Year 2 students will be attending a Summer School run by our partners at the Ecole de Management in Strasbourg in June. Mid-March, we’ll be welcoming Lucie Herbreteau of UCO Angers to Stirling on an Erasmus teaching exchange and she’ll be taking classes involving not only our final year French students but also our postgraduate Translation programme and Years 1 and 2 of our undergraduate French programme. And, finally, at the end of March, Cristina Johnston has been invited to introduce a screening of Claude Chabrol’s Une Affaire de femmes at Edinburgh’s Cameo Cinema with Hugh McDonnell of Edinburgh University, as part of Mihaela Mihai’s project on Greyzones.

Busy, busy times and more news to follow, I’ve no doubt, over the coming weeks!

Last blog post for 2016

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 East will 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!

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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.

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In the meantime, though, the University is about to close for the break and we wish you all de joyeuses fêtes!

Happy Holidays! 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.

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Kirsten and Charlotte

Charlotte, in the final year of a BA Hons in French and Journalism, “enjoyed the semester very much even if it was a lot of work. Working on translation (both from English into French and French into English) really enhanced my skills. We also have a lot of support from staff.” For, Kirsten, who is in Year 3 of our BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society, the semester was “hard work, but well worth it. Fiona, our lecturer, helped me a lot and gave me all the support I needed, especially in translation.”

 

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.”

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Colm and Luise

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.”

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Michael and Thomas

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…

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Year 2 Christmas 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?!!

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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.”‘

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Amy, Shana and Holly

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.

French Film Festival: School Screenings at the MacRobert

More to follow on this over the next few days but this year’s screenings for schools as part of the annual French Film Festival will be kicking off at the MacRobert this week. Fiona Barclay and Cristina Johnston will be introducing the screenings to pupils from Dollar Academy and Queen Victoria School in Dunblane a little later this week, with pupils from Dunblane High School also due to attend a screening later in November.

As well as these screenings for secondary school pupils, there will also be 3 films from the main programme of this year’s French Film Festival showing at the MacRobert in November. On Monday 17 November, at 7.30pm, there’s a performance of the WWII film Come What May, followed by a screening of A Journey Through French Cinema, at 7.30pm on Thursday 21 November. And finally, on Monday 24 November, David Murphy will be giving a lecture before a screening of Nicolas Boukhrief’s film Made in France. Tickets for all of the screenings can be purchased via the MacRobert website and there’s a special deal for people buying tickets for all three screenings! Venez nombreux!

 

 

Translation Masters at Stirling: ‘Perfect mix of theory and practice’

Lauren Kenny graduated in 2011 with BA Hons in French and returned to Stirling in 2014 to embark on our MRes in Translation Studies. She has just completed that course, having completed her dissertation on subtitling banlieue cinema over the Summer months, and has written a post about her reasons for taking up postgraduate study.

2016-kenny-image-i“Almost 4 years after graduating from Stirling University with a BA Hons in French I finally made the decision to return to Stirling University to undertake an MRes in Translation in the autumn of 2014. I hadn’t really considered undertaking further study following my undergraduate course until my fourth year. I was 23 when I enrolled at Stirling and being that bit older I was keen to get my degree as soon as possible to land a graduate job. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy university, not only the student experience but also the course work. Having worked full time in administration before starting uni studying, exams and essay writing was a welcome challenge compared to office life.

Towards the end of my fourth year Cristina Johnston had mentioned that Stirling was offering a Masters in Translation and for anyone interested to get in touch. As soon as I heard this I knew I wanted to take the course. I really enjoyed the translation assignments, had taken translation classes on my semester abroad in Perpignan and a career using my language skills really appealed to me. However, it was not financially possible for me at the time so I ended up getting a full time job working in Financial Services. There were very few opportunities in my role to use my language skills. In my spare time I did continue to read French novels and watch French films in an attempt to keep up my language skills and indulge in my passion for all things French. I also got the chance to practice my French while accompanying French exchange students on tourist trips to Edinburgh.

This was not enough for me though and I still wanted to undertake the Masters in Translation but quitting work and studying full time was not an option. I noticed that Stirling offered a part time option for the course and came to an arrangement with my employer to allow me to complete the course part time while continuing to work.

That was almost 2 years ago and having now completed the course and handed in my dissertation I only regret not doing it sooner. The course was everything I thought it would be and more. It had a perfect mix of theory and practical elements and provided an abundance of opportunities to pursue a career in translation. My advice for any future Masters students looking for a career in translation would be to make the most of every opportunity, attend all postgraduate events, and make contacts to get the most out of the course. I am glad I made the decision to return to Stirling to complete my Masters and urge anyone interested to find out more.”

Thanks to Lauren for this post and we hope you’ll keep going with the postgrad work after this Masters programme! All the best for the future.

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