Tag: French and History

A Year in Brittany

Following on from Stuart’s tales of life in sub-zero Quebec and Brett’s of life teaching English in Japan, it’s time for more travels, this time with thanks to Emily who is reaching the end of her year teaching English in France:

Salut encore! It feels like hardly any time has passed since I was writing my last post for the French at Stirling blog, where I spoke a bit about my first two years studying French and History. First and second year went by so quickly, but not as quickly as this year! Instead of carrying on into third year, I decided to take a year out from my studies to work in France as an English Language Assistant. In my last post I had just found out that I’d been accepted into the programme run by the British Council, and was waiting to hear where I would be posted. I ended up being placed in a lycée in a small town in Brittany, which I was really excited about because it would be an opportunity to explore a region of France that I’d never seen before.

The town I was posted in, Combourg, wasn’t much different to my hometown in Argyll; it was rural, the population was small (7,000 people roughly), and the lycée was a similar size to the high school I went to, with 600-odd pupils. The job itself consisted of me leading conversation classes in English with the older pupils, which was a bit daunting as there was only an age-gap of two years between me and most of my students! However, I thought back to my oral classes at Stirling University and what I liked most about them (the conversations on recent events, discussing our own interests, being encouraged to speak, even if we made mistakes or our pronunciation wasn’t the best) and I tried to apply these things when I was planning my own classes. It was also a great opportunity to talk about Scotland and our culture, as most of the students had only really associated the UK with England. They couldn’t believe what goes into some of our best loved dishes, like haggis!

2019 Ronald Blog Update Brittany June19Although I was working in Combourg, I actually ended up living in a house-share with four French people in St Malo, a wee coastal town in the north of Brittany. Living with native French-speakers was really fun as I was able to learn a bit about French culture, and they really helped me to improve my language skills. There was so much that I loved about living in France, but the thing I enjoyed the most had to be the food. There were markets in different neighbourhoods of St-Malo near enough every day, and it’s safe to say that most of my wages went on trying as much authentic French food as I could! When I wasn’t spending my money on food, I was using it to explore nearby towns with some other language assistants in the area. We were able to visit a lot of places, like Dinan and Rennes, by using public transport, which was amazing as it wasn’t expensive and it gave us the chance to see new parts of France.

Although I had a fantastic experience in France, I’m really looking forward to getting back into my studies at Stirling and putting everything I learned over the past seven months into practice. And I’ll be back in France in no time, because in third year we have the choice of studying abroad for a semester! I’m hoping that I can go to a different part of France for this, just because I think it’d be nice to experience a new region, but no matter where I end up, I’ll definitely be paying Brittany a wee visit!’

Many, many thanks to Emily for taking the time to send us this post and we’re looking forward to finding out where you’ll be spending Spring 2020, too!

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Harry Potter, Spotify and Language Learning

This time last year, we posted an article by Emily who was just reaching the end of her 1st year studying French and History so, as we catch up with the authors of some of those posts to see how things have gone this year, here is Emily’s update:

‘Bonjour à tous! In my last post for the French at Stirling blog I talked about my first year studying for a BA Hons degree in French and History, and what a great start it had been to my university career at Stirling. The structure of classes in first year has been the same this year, with weekly seminars on written language, francophone culture and French speaking classes. This year we have also had a new class added to our timetable; half-hour conversation sessions. These new speaking classes have been a great way to get practice in our French conversation skills, as it’s a very relaxed environment and the conversations are usually spontaneous and on recent topics.

Another exciting opportunity available to us in second year is the chance to work abroad as an English language assistant (ELA) through the British Council’s scheme, spending a whole year in a French-speaking country. Although the time spent abroad doesn’t contribute credits towards my actual degree I feel it is an invaluable opportunity to learn about contemporary French culture and improve my language skills. Having recently received the good news that my application has been shortlisted I can’t wait to find out whereabouts in France I will be placed!

However, until I move to France towards the end of this year, I have to try and maintain my current level of French, which I have been doing through various different methods. A great way one of my teachers suggested to keep French fresh in my mind is to listen to French music. Spotify is a lifesaver here, as there are loads of French music playlists already created, so if you’re like me and have no clue who any popular French musicians are, you can easily discover different solo artists and bands that suit your music tastes.

Reading French regularly is another great way to maintain language skills, but I find it can be quite daunting at times, so to make things easier for myself I decided to revisit one of my childhood favourites; Harry Potter. I have found that reading stories in French that you have already read in English is much easier as you don’t have to focus so much on the plot and instead can concentrate on grammar and new vocabulary. Hopefully by using these methods to try and incorporate french into my everyday life I won’t forget everything that the French department at Stirling taught me this year!

To sum things up, my first two years studying French at Stirling have been fantastic, my teachers have been more than helpful in preparing me for life as an English language assistant in France, and I can’t wait to see what next year has in store!’

Many, many thanks to Emily for this update. We look forward to finding out where you’re posted next year and wish you all the best for the assistantship!

‘The French department is simply fantastic’: French and History at Stirling

Time, once again, for one of our profiles of current students, this time from Emily Ronald who will be starting her second year with us in the Autumn and has taken the time to look back over the past year and the shift from school to University:

“Salut! My name’s Emily Ronald and I’ve just completed my first year at Stirling University studying for my BA Hons degree in French and History. My first year studying French at Stirling has been amazing. I come from a very small rural area and so was a little nervous at first about moving away from home and beginning my studies at a university level. However, all my worries and doubts disappeared on the first day of term. The French department is simply fantastic, the tutors are all friendly and approachable, and put my mind at ease about the transition from secondary school to university straight away.

The materials that we have covered in our first-year classes have been really interesting and challenging (in a good way!), and have opened my eyes to wider Francophone cultures that I had previously been oblivious of. French is taught in three different classes; writing and grammar, speaking, and culture, in addition to a weekly lecture. I’ve enjoyed all the classes this year, but in particular the weekly parlé class, as it gave me the opportunity to improve my speaking in a friendly atmosphere.

Stirling was my first-choice university alongside another Scottish university, so I had to make the tough decision between the two of them. However, after attending one of the open days at Stirling, I fell in love with the campus and my mind was set. It’s safe to say that I made the right decision, as Stirling now feels like a home away from home to me. I’m looking forward to continuing my studies in September and I’m hoping for another excellent year!”

Many thanks to Emily for this great post and we hope that second year (and beyond!) lives up to expectations.

Student Successes: Prizes and Graduating Students

On the day our finalists have received their degree results (félicitations à toutes et à tous!!), it seems particularly appropriate to post congratulations to all those French at Stirling students who have been awarded prizes for outstanding performances across our year groups.

In Semesters 1-3, we run both an Advanced stream (for all those with Higher or Advanced Higher French, or equivalent) and a Beginners’ stream (for those with no formal qualifications in French or whose previous studies are from years and years back) and we award prizes in both streams. This year, Prize for the Best Performance by a Year 1 Student in the A Stream goes to Jennifer Graham who is studying Professional Education (Primary) with a Specialism in Modern Languages and the Prize for the Best Performance in Year 1 by a B Stream student goes to English and French student, Laura Castane Bassa.

Best Performance by an A Stream student in Year 2 goes to International Politics and Languages student Stefano Intropido (who was also recently awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship) while Charlene Hoag, who is studying French and History, has won the Prize for the Best Performance by a former B Stream student in Year 2 (Advanced and Beginners’ streams merge in Semester 4).

Our annual Simone de Beauvoir Prize for French which is awarded every year to a graduating student on a French programme for the best performance across their Honours modules has been won by David Vescio who has been studying French and Spanish with us, and Hannah Northfield, who has just completed her BA Hons in French, has been awarded the Translation Prize for French, thanks to excellent grades in translation assessments across her final year.

Many, many congratulations to all our prize-winners from all of French at Stirling!

French and History: ‘The best imaginable environment to study in’

As this year’s finalists nervously wait to get confirmation of their results, and look forward to graduation and life beyond, and our continuing students embark on Summers of work and travel and study, it seems a good time to resume our series of profiles of current French at Stirling students. To start us off again, we’re delighted to be able to post the following article by Charlene, who has just completed Year 2 of her BA Hons in French and History and who gives a sense of the range of journeys that have led students to Stirling:

2017 Charlene Hoag Profile Pic June“Bonjour! Hvordan går det? I’m Charlene and I’ve have decided to throw in some Danish and French to begin my explanation as to why I’m studying French & History at the University of Stirling!

I essentially moved to Scotland because I wanted to take an undergraduate degree taught in English. Previously, I lived in Denmark and studied the International Baccalaureate program for two years. Before that, I lived and grew up in Rochester, Minnesota, USA. My dad’s American, and I really spent most of my childhood-teenage years in the States. I was, however, born in Copenhagen, Denmark and spent some early childhood years growing up on the West Coast of Denmark as well.

My family decided to move us all back to Denmark when I was about 18, and after staying in Denmark for 2 years, I then travelled and worked for a while before settling down in Stirling. I taught Business English in Paris, France, where I fell even more in love with the culture and language! I had previously studied French in my American high school for 3 years.

I was accepted into both Strathclyde University and the University of Stirling, and when I moved to Stirling permanently after making my decision, I was both relieved and excited at my choice! The campus provides the best imaginable environment to study in. The lake, trees and giant hill in the distance make the views stunning across campus!

The French department has been super helpful- the tutors are always willing to help and take a genuine interest in their hundreds of students! I would recommend finding a French exchange student to practice speaking French with throughout the semesters- I found it really improved my confidence and helped me prepare for the oral exam.

All in all, Stirling is THE campus to be at if you’re interested in a healthy working environment and plenty of staff support- and, considering how international the campus is, you’ll be surrounded by various cultures! What could be better that that? Salut et bonne chance!”

Many, many thanks to Charlene (Tak!) for taking the time to send us this profile and we look forward to more profiles of continuing students over the weeks ahead.

AHRC Studentship Success

Congratulations to Fraser McQueen who graduated in French and History from Stirling two years ago and who, we have just learned, will be coming back to Stirling to undertake an AHRC funded PhD under the supervision of Fiona Barclay.

Fraser is currently working as a University lecteur in France. Here’s what he has to say about his project and his return to Stirling: “My project will involve a comparative analysis of literary, filmic, polemical and media texts representing immigration, integration, and Islam published in France since 2005. I’ll explore artistic texts’ capability to contribute to the debates over these subjects which have taken on an ever-increasing importance in French society over this period, and potentially to counteract discourses of exclusion diffused through the media.

I’m looking forward to coming back to Stirling for this project, as I thoroughly enjoyed my four years there as an undergraduate: it was at Stirling, and particularly in my fourth year, that I became interested in the legacies of French imperialism, which are vital to understanding the racial and religious tensions in modern-day France. The French programme at Stirling’s strategic focus on colonial and postcolonial studies makes it the perfect place to carry out this research: almost every member of staff has some interest in one of these themes, and I know from previous experience that they’re friendly and approachable. It’ll be a wrench to leave the sunny south of France to come back to Scotland, but I’m looking forward to getting started!”

It’s snowing as I write this particular blog piece, so apologies on the weather front but congratulations, Fraser, and we look forward to welcoming you back in the Autumn!