Tag: French at Stirling

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!


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.


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

Africa in Motion 2016 Programme Launch


It’s that time of year again! Founded by our former PhD student, Lizelle Bisschoff, and now into its 11th year, the annual Africa in Motion film festival has just launched its 2016 programme. Details here and, as ever, a fantastic array of films from every genre imaginable, as well as Q&A sessions with leading figures from African cinema, workshops, exhibitions and much more! Events in Glasgow and Edinburgh from 28 October to 6 November.


“Languages live through the people who speak them”

Kathrin Opielka graduated from our Integrated Masters in International Management and Intercultural Studies – in partnership with the University of Passau – in 2015. Originally from Germany, she is now living and working in Scotland and has sent us the following post about her experiences in Stirling and beyond.

2016-opielka-photo“I have always enjoyed discovering the unknown, adapting to new, unfamiliar situations and questioning my perspective on what I have taken for granted.

I think many language and culture students will agree with me that the fascination of this subject lies in its ever-changing, dynamic nature. Languages live through the people who speak them, through literature, art, and conversations. And is there any better way to learn and experience a language than through being surrounded by it every day?

During my studies, I have focused on English, Spanish, Polish and French as foreign languages. I was lucky enough to spend a couple of months in both Spain and Poland during my B.A. and was eager to live in an English-speaking country for a while. When I heard about the International Management and Intercultural Studies programme between the universities of Passau and Stirling, I knew immediately that it would be perfect for me.

Not only did the University of Stirling offer excellent academic courses such as Spanish language, translation, politics, and management; it also meant that I would be able to discover this exciting country and vividly experience the Scottish culture! My expectations of the programme were not only met, but highly exceeded. The level of care and guidance by the university staff and professors were exceptional, and I loved every single class I took during these two semesters. Also outside university, I was overwhelmed by the beauty of the Scottish country and hospitality of its people.

I started to understand the Scottish saying “visitors of Scotland cry twice – once when they arrive, and once when they leave”. Albeit I heroically managed the first incident of crying (the weather really wasn’t exactly in my favour when I arrived), it soon became clear to me that I wouldn’t be able to face good-bye yet. I fell in love with and in Scotland, and after I graduated in May 2015, I decided to move to Edinburgh.

I started working in bars and cafés and was grateful for the translation classes I took in Stirling as I was freelancing as a linguist for Global Voices on my days off. I thoroughly enjoyed translation work but was concerned by the volatile nature of freelancing – I had hoped that the times of all-nighters would have been history after the point of me graduating.

After a couple of months, I found a great graduate position in a small, multilingual marketing agency in Edinburgh. Even though I only stayed there for three months due to the office being re-located to Barcelona (yes, I love Scotland THAT much), it was an amazing stepping stone into the industry and enabled me to gain some experience in various sides of digital marketing. I soon realised that I wanted to specialise in content marketing as it would allow me to combine my interests in creative writing, marketing, psychology and language.

I am now working as an Inbound Marketing Campaign Executive at Storm ID, a digital transformation consultancy in Edinburgh. My job is extremely diverse and creative; I am involved in both strategic campaign planning and operational, day-to-day activities such as blogging, social media marketing, and SEO. Most importantly, I am learning something new every day. Writing in English has helped improve my language skills significantly (although I still drink the occasional “litter of water”) and I am additionally enrolled at Google Squared through my company, an amazing part-time online course focusing on digital marketing and leadership.

As language graduates, there are many opportunities to apply our skills and knowledge in the professional world. I have discovered a niche in marketing which allows me to make use of my creativity and passion for writing but there are many other industries which require intercultural communication skills.

I definitely have found my place for now, although I haven’t given up on my plan to do a PhD in the field of Indigenous Cultures in South America – a topic I discovered in a seminar held by Dr Sabine Dedenbach Salazar-Sáenz in Stirling. I am sure that the experiences I gathered both at the University of Stirling and in my current job will help me pursue this dream sometime in the future and am excited about those yet to come.”


Many thanks to Kathrin for sending us this blog post and we hope life in Scotland continues to treat you well!

Thinking about Masters programmes?

Katja Spanz graduated with our BA Hons in International Management with European Languages and Society in June of this year and is about to embark on postgraduate studies at Durham University. As she gets ready to start on that course, she’s sent us the following post with advice on anyone thinking about applying for Masters programmes.

2016-spanz-photo“Starting a postgraduate degree has always been in the back of my head, but I never thought I would actually do it. Now, four years down the line, having finished my undergraduate degree from Stirling, I am about to start my postgraduate course in 2 weeks time and it still does not feel real to me. My educational story started out a bit unusually compared to that of some of my peers. After I graduated high school I took two years out, travelled to different countries and lived abroad to work and learn new languages. Only after this experience I decided to go to university and pursue a degree in business and modern languages. After researching for a while, Stirling University seemed to be the right choice for me.

Starting my fourth and final year at Stirling was different compared to the three years before. It would be the last time to sit in an introduction lecture for my business course and start speaking classes for my language modules after having studied abroad for a year. However, at the same time everything was familiar and felt like home. During my final two semesters my academic life took a clearer and more structured direction. I had to start thinking about where I want to be and what I really want to do. By discussing possible options, talking over CVs and applications as well as writing letters of recommendation for postgraduate courses, the teaching staff were of great help to me during this time, especially within the languages department.

If I can give any advice to anyone thinking of doing a postgraduate, I would say that it is essential to give yourself enough time to research the various institutions and programs thoroughly. Plan ahead when it comes to your applications, especially concerning the personal statement. Every university is looking for something specific, something that makes you stand out from the crowd. Take your time and determine what it is that you truly and really want to do. The most important thing is to be sure of what you want to do and to give yourself enough time to plan the application process. I personally started applying to universities right at the start of fourth year, but I have friends who waited until the following January. Due to my early applications, the first replies came in around mid-semester break amongst which was an offer to study Politics and International Relations at Durham University, which I accepted. After focusing on business and modern languages at Stirling I think this course is the right addition for me in order to prepare me for my future career.

Studying languages not only introduced me to new cultures and ways of life, it also encouraged me and gave me the final push in deciding to do a postgraduate degree. In my opinion studying a language introduces you to so many different, unexpected aspects of society and life in general that are of advantage for every single career path.”

Thanks to Katja for this article and best of luck for the course that lies ahead. We look forward to hearing how things go and where the Masters leads you next.

What languages do our students speak?

Following on from the earlier Happy European Day of Languages post, I was curious to find out how many different languages are spoken by French at Stirling students so, earlier this afternoon, I sent out an email asking just that question. I’ll update the list as the day goes on but, so far, as well as English and French, we have: Spanish, German, Swedish, Afrikaans, Hungarian, Romanian, Italian, Arabic, Danish, Croatian, Polish, Russian, Japanese, Vietnamese and Korean plus other students currently learning combinations of all those languages… I look forward to expanding the list over the rest of the day! Thanks to all those who have already replied (merci, gracias, Danke, tack, dankie, kösz, mersi, grazie, tak, shukran/شكر, hvala, dzięki, благодаря, ありがとう, cảm ơn, 감사…).

[Just a quick follow-up to the multilingual picture that emerged through the responses from students to add this link to an article about the top languages for the highest-paid jobs in the UK. Thanks to Aedín for passing it on!]

Happy European Day of Languages!

Lots of things happening already in this new semester: meetings with local Modern Languages teachers, buddying schemes being set up, French Film Festival screenings coming to the MacRobert, more tales of the experiences of our current students and recent graduates… More on all of this and much more to come over the next day or two but, in the meantime, a very Happy European Day of Languages to you all!

New book by David Murphy

Congratulations to French at Stirling’s David Murphy on the publication of his new book, The First World Festival of Negro Arts Dakar 1966 which came out  last week! The book is the first sustained attempt to provide not only an overview of the festival itself but also of its multiple legacies, which will help us better to understand the ‘festivalization’ of Africa that has occurred in recent decades with most African countries now hosting a number of festivals as part of a national tourism and cultural development strategy.

David is also involved in a number of events to mark the 50th anniversary of the festival over the coming months, including talks at this year’s Africa in Motion festival, documentary film screenings in Liverpool at the International Slavery Museum and a speech at a conference in Dakar in November. More to follow on all of these in due course.


1+2 Language Policy Conference

2016-jmd-pictureOur Language Coordinator Jean-Michel DesJacques serves as Stirling’s representative on the University Council of Modern Languages (UCMLS) and recently attend a conference on the 1+2 Language Policy in Dundee on which he has sent us the following report.:

“First I would first to thank the Chair, Marion Spöring, for her excellent organisation of the event.  It kicked off with 4 keynote speakers from various backgrounds which illustrated the success and challenges of language learning.  We learned from Thomas Hulvershorn from Outplay Ltd. based in Dundee that you never know where learning a language can take you.  In his case, designing computer games with the help of multilingual technicians whose expertise in the language and culture is key to success.  If you ever played Angry Birds in a foreign language, it is partly thanks to them.  This was followed by Do Coyle from Aberdeen University who gave a very good insight of “where are we right now?” regarding the impact of the 1+2 Language policy and its implications on education programmes and the HE sector in general.  Then we had the point of view of the local authorities.  Sometimes we do need to be reminded of the financial implications and the importance of dealing with day to day issues in schools.

In the discussion groups, it was fascinating to hear and share the views from all sectors of education and to see how we can support each other.  There is still so much to be done especially on how to make languages more relevant.  I know, the research is there for all to see, the impact of a good knowledge of foreign cultures on the economy is very well documented but simple things such as:  convincing parents to let their children continue with languages especially in deprived areas; making sure primary teachers get the right training to give them confidence; gaining the support of your head of school to invest in languages; etc.

The attempt was really to look at how we can generate ideas for a cross-sector action plan in support of the 1+2 implimentation by 2020.  The idea is to finalise discussion at local level, this is why the next hub-meeting from the central region will be held at Stirling on Thursday 22 September, 5-6.30pm.  Do get in touch if you wish to attend.”

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.