Tag: French

French at Stirling student’s China trip

As you may recall, this year has seen the first cohort of students from our partners at Hebei Normal University in China here in Stirling for the final year of our new double degree programme in Translation and Interpreting. To help the incoming students adapt to life in Stirling and in Scotland, we set up an informal buddying scheme involving students from across the campus. As the year progressed, the Stirling buddies were invited to apply for the opportunity to travel to China to meet with the next cohort of HNU students and, following a very competitive selection process, French at Stirling student Elliot Knight was selected. He travelled to China at the end of March and, now that teaching and exams are over, we’ve finally had a chance to catch up with him to get tales from his trip:

2017 HNU Elliot Photo May“If I have learned anything from my trip to China as a student ambassador, it’s that walking around a Chinese university campus clad in a kilt attracts a fair amount of attention. Students and lecturers alike would come up to me and ask me where I was from and what I was doing there, and I told them that I was there as a student ambassador from the University of Stirling. It made me proud to represent my university, and indeed Scotland in China.

From the moment that the plane landed in Beijing, everything about my environment felt different to anything that I had experienced before. The constant noise of car horns, the smog, the architecture, the food, the colours, the language and most of all the sheer number of people. From Beijing, I took a high-speed train to Shijiazhuang, where Hebei Normal University is located.

Whilst I was there, I was tasked with making a presentation to future generations of Hebei Normal University students that will be spending the final year of their degree at the University of Stirling. I told them, of course, about the buddying programme for HNU students in Stirling, and how a buddy can help to enhance their experience whilst they are at Stirling. I explained that a buddy can help them with some basic aspects of adjusting to living here, from restaurant etiquette to the benefits of creating a Facebook profile. However, the focus of my presentation was how the buddying system could help them to better experience all that Stirling and Scotland have to offer. That, whilst their academic studies at Stirling would be important, that experiencing the culture and seeing a different part of the world were also of great value. Furthermore, I emphasised to them that, not only are there many fantastic cultural opportunities for them in Stirling and in Scotland, there are many aspects of Chinese culture that they are able to contribute to university life as well.

In addition to presentations, I was also given the opportunity to meet and have a formal dinner with senior members of the languages faculty at Hebei Normal University, where I was able to explain to them how the buddy programme has been working for the students currently studying in Stirling. In addition to this, I was able to spend some time with HNU students in an informal capacity, going out for dinner with them, and then going to a games arcade; quite an unusual experience as they are rarely seen in Scotland now.

Throughout my trip, I was struck by the level of friendliness and courtesy that was shown to me by my Chinese hosts. I was truly made to feel welcome. What struck me most of all, however, was the openness of the students with whom I spoke. They asked many questions about life in Scotland and in Europe, and were delighted to answer any questions that I had about their lives in China.

It is through seeing the differences in culture and environment between Scotland and China that I can truly appreciate the challenges faced by Chinese students coming to study in Scotland for the first time; it is truly a daunting prospect. The buddying scheme has been great for widening my own perspective. It has allowed me to see the environment around me from the perspective of someone to whom everything that I find familiar is unfamiliar, and in turn I have been able to have the same experience and see things from their perspective. What my role as student ambassador has demonstrated to me is the value of forging international links between universities: being able to interact with people with different perspectives and from different backgrounds truly enriches one’s experience as a student. So, in the same way that interacting with Chinese students at Stirling and visiting their home university has broadened my perspective, I hope that I have been able to encourage Chinese students at Hebei Normal University to broaden theirs.”

Thanks, first and foremost, to Elliot for sending this blog post but also to our Faculty of Arts and Humanities for supporting his visit to HNU, and to our partners at HNU for extending their welcome to him for what sounds like it was a great visit. And we’re looking forward to welcoming next year’s HNU students in the Autumn and to seeing the buddying scheme running again from September.

French at Stirling Event for Secondary Pupils and Teachers

There’ll be much more to follow about this very soon but we’re excited to be organising two day-long events for Secondary 5 and 6 Higher and Advanced Higher school pupils on campus at Stirling on 13 and 14 June, with financial support from our Division of Literature and Languages and from the Association for the Study of Modern and Contemporary France.

The whole French at Stirling team will be involved, along with current postgraduate students, students who are about to graduate in June, and recent graduates who studied French with us. We’re going to be welcoming over 230 pupils and 20 teachers from 16 schools over the two days, and we’ll be giving them a taster of what it’s like to study languages at University and at Stirling. They’ll get the chance to listen to a lecture, as well as attending specially organised classes covering written and spoken language and culture, before meeting with students and graduates who will talk to them about their experiences studying languages and the employability opportunities this has opened up for them. And alongside the activities for pupils, we’ll also be running CPD sessions for the teachers to develop their expertise in key areas of teaching practice.

Much more to follow on this over the weeks ahead.

French at Stirling Stevenson Successes

Félicitations to Annika, Nicolas and Stefano – three French at Stirling students who have just finished their 2nd year and who have each been awarded a Stevenson Exchange Scholarship to help them undertake a project of research during their Semester Abroad next Spring. This is a great achievement for all three and we’ll post updates on their progress while they’re away on Study Abroad but we wanted to share their success.

The Stevenson Exchange Scholarships are awarded competitively each year with applicants from across all the Scottish Universities who have to submit an application including a research project outline and then attend an interview at Glasgow University. The range of topics Annika, Nicolas and Stefano will be exploring thanks to their scholarships gives a really good sense of the variety of research interests across undergraduate Languages students.

Annika is interested in the development of French social structures with particular focus on the relationship with the EU and the scholarship will help her, among other things, travel to Marseille to visit the Musée des Civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée and to Roubaix to spend time researching in the Archives nationales du monde du travail.

Nicolas’s project aims to build on time he has already spent working in the fashion industry near Milan in order to further pursue his interest in fashion and the development of the fashion industry in France. As well as attending events around Paris Fashion Week, he intends to visit the Musée de la Mode in Albi and the Musée de Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs in Lyon.

As for Stefano, he wants to use the scholarship to enhance his knowledge of Human Rights, with a particular focus on those of refugees in France. The key components of his research project include planned trips to Mechel (Belgium) and to Geneva (Switzerland), to visit, respectively, the Kazerne Dossin–Mémorial, Musée et Centre de Documentation sur l’Holocauste et les Droits de l’Homme and the Musée International de la Croix-Rouge et du Croissant-Rouge.

This year’s trio will be following previous Stirling Stevenson successes, including Jeanne who is currently in Granada for her Semester Abroad, having been awarded a Scholarship through Spanish at Stirling. Having already undertaken a good deal of research into the question of the teaching of ‘untold’ histories through discussions with teachers at school and University-level about their experiences teaching on aspects of Franco’s Spain, Jeanne is now planning to focus to expand her research to include visits to historical monuments. “I will visit the Centro Federico García Lorca, where there is a library, to see if the War and the dictatorship are depicted and if so, how. I will also visit the rest of the Provincial Prison of Granada, almost fully destroyed, and the Campana prison for political opponents during Francoism, and the Cartel de las Palmas (where torture used to be carried out). She’s also planning a trip to Madrid, to see Guernica, and to Toledo, to visit the Museum of War.

Félicitations once again, to both the new Stevenson Scholars and those currently completing their projects from this past year!

One Year On!

Last week, as I was in the process of (gently…) reminding this year’s French finalists to think about sending various bits and pieces for this blog, I was really pleased to get an email from Julian Osei-Bonsu who graduated in French and Law last year and who was emailing with an update on how things are going one year on which he has (very kindly!) turned into this blog piece:

“About a week ago, it suddenly came to me that it’s exactly a year since I completed all of my university tests and assignments. With the relief I felt, there was of course the sadness of having to part with places and people I’d grown to cherish over the course of my four years at university. And then there was of course the uncertainty that I felt about the future, I wasn’t entirely sure what would come next.

Shortly after graduation, and after having sent off several job applications, I happened upon an announcement while staying with my family in Germany. It was a casting call for flight attendants for a German airline. I went to the casting on impulse, underwent the interview and the exam with the airline psychologist and after a few uncertain hours received news that I had been given a training place.

My flight attendant training began in October and turned out to be the eight most intense weeks I’d ever experienced. We learned everything we needed to know for our jobs in the skies, starting with the particularities of each aircraft type, emergency procedures like evacuating a plane on land and water, first aid, how to handle unruly passengers and, of course, how to make the trip as comfortable as possible for our guests with the incorporation of excellent service. This was a highly stressful time but also an incredibly fun one mostly because I was in a class of eighteen hopeful flight attendants. We all endured the fears of not being able to memorise the exact words of the evacuation commands upon ditching on water. or forgetting which wines to recommend for each the various courses on a business class menu. And we celebrated together upon successful completion of each stage of training.

2017 Julian Osei-Bonsu cockpit view of oslo
Oslo Cockpit View

I became an official flight attendant in January this year and I do think it’s the perfect job for me right now. I get to see an incredible number of places within a short period of time and I’ve have met so many interesting people! I have also been lucky enough to meet with friends from Stirling who are scattered across the world and whom I wouldn’t have had the chance to see so soon after graduation. I have also had the opportunity of using the French I learned at Stirling, having flown to France a few times and having French-speaking passengers on most flights.

 

It’s interesting and exciting to see how much can happen in a year. Last year around this time, I had no idea what I’d be doing now, and I can say the same for a lot of friends who I graduated with.”

Many thanks to Julian for sending us this blog post and we look forward to following your travels and career over the years to come.

French Presidential Election: Experiences of a ‘Primo Votant’

For David, one of our final year students, the end of teaching and assessment was particularly significant this year because it meant a return to his home in France in time to join the ranks of the primo votants (first-time voters) in the first round of the French presidential elections. We’ve asked him to share his thoughts on this experience and we’re delighted to be able to share this post:

2017 David Primo Votant April“I voted in a French presidential election last Sunday for the first time and it felt exhilarating. Voting in France has always been an essential element when it comes to being a citizen. It is not only regarded as a right but, first and foremost, as a civic duty. Elections are always held on a Sunday so, in my family, as in many others, we all go to the polling station, which is usually in a local school hall. As I cast my vote by placing my sealed envelope in the ballot box, the officer solemnly announced “a voté” (has voted) and I signed the register. I felt apprehensive, yet excited, at the prospect of voting as I was aware of the importance of my choice, especially nowadays with the current climate of political uncertainty.

On leaving the polling station, we bought croissants and pains au chocolat (ouh la la!) and discussed the possible outcome of the elections with the results due to be announced at 8 o’clock that night. People discuss politics quite openly in France and the French can be very vocal about their political views which can be a source of tension and heated debate during family meals. The situation was especially tense this year as several non-mainstream candidates were in the running for the Elysée. The atmosphere as we waited for the results on Sunday evening was one of excitement and impatience. And it was nerve-racking when the results were actually announced. I was in front of the telly with my family, glass of wine in hand (bien sûr !), watching David Pujadas, one of France’s most famous TV presenters, who already knew the results, commenting on the atmosphere in the headquarters of the various candidates, with the countdown to the results behind him.

After what seemed like an interminable wait, voici the results: Macron and Le Pen are through to the second round. A shockwave of disappointment, fear, joy, excitement is felt throughout France. For the first time in the history of the 5th Republic, politicians representing neither the traditional left nor right wing parties are through to the second round of the presidential elections. The next morning, the streets were empty; people were either at work or stayed at recovering from the shock of the results perhaps, or from the hangover from the wine the night before. Overall, this presidential race has created an increase in political awareness among French people, especially the younger generation, not unlike in the U.S. elections. It is however worth noting that more than 20% chose not to vote. The two remaining candidates now have a little more than a week to convince voters who did not vote for them in the first round that they should be the next French President. Whatever the result on Sunday 7th May, we can safely it will be a first for France! Vive la République et vive la France!”

Many thanks to David for this blog piece and we look forward to an update after the 2nd round!

“To Infinity and Beyond…”: 2017 Finalists’ Future Plans

For our students who will be graduating with degrees involving French in June this year, the exams and assessment for French are now over, the essays have all been submitted, and we wanted to get a chance to share the plans of those who’ll be in our 2017 graduating class. They don’t all know what they’re going to do once they graduate and their plans may well change over the months ahead but, just as a snapshot of the range of directions our languages graduates end up going in, here goes, in no particular order:

Emily, who’ll be graduating with Single Honours French, is “planning to go into firefighting and just waiting for the next recruitment drive, doing whatever else pays the rent in the meantime. I don’t know where I’ll end up doing this in the long run, but I’m very happy to be able to have Montreal and the south of France as strong contenders.” Mareike, who’ll be graduating in Psychology with a European Language, is off to Bournemouth where she’ll be embarking on an MSc in Nutrition and Behaviour (and hopefully finding ways to keep going with French). Sarah, who will be graduating with Single Honours French, has already relocated to Italy where she is working as an assistant park manager for a company on a French campsite. She worked as an employee for the company for the last two summers in France and since finishing university has moved up the ranks thanks to earning her degree, and having more experience. She says this is “a great way to work abroad and meet new people whilst also giving you the chance to live and experience French culture outside of university.”

Lysiane, whose degree is in French and Spanish, is planning on doing a postgraduate degree at Stirling in Strategic Communications and Public Relations. Her plan is to be able to apply for jobs in the future with skills in languages and in another field such as marketing or public relations because “most of the jobs I have been looking at are looking for people with language skills along with something else. I think this postgraduate degree will give me more experience and knowledge so that one day I might be able to become a PR in the hotel business or the airlines.” As for Kitti, who studied French and Global Cinema with us, a TEFL course beckons and she plans “to move to Grenoble for a year or two to teach English and in the meantime work on my French until it’s perfect. At the moment I’m doing an interpreting job and I love it, but I feel like with Hungarian there are not enough opportunities, so it would be good to add French to the list. Plus, I would love to try teaching so I think this would be a perfect opportunity to kill two birds with one stone.”

For Hannah, who’ll be graduating in French, teaching also lies ahead but in a different context: “After graduation, my plan is to complete a PGDE Primary course at UWS. My very rough business plan for this summer is to start up a French club for babies/toddlers and their parents/guardians where they will be able to learn some nursery rhymes and basic numbers, colours, and animals in preparation for starting French in primary school.” Alex, who’ll also be graduating in French, “will be working an internship in project management/operations for Ironman (the triathlon company, not Robert Downey Jr. sadly!) until October and then I will begin work as a Management Trainee at Enterprise Rent a Car on their graduate scheme. At some point in the next 5 years, having gained some business experience, I will seek to do a Masters or MBA (likely at Stirling) in order to improve my chances with larger employers.”

Julie, who started studying Japanese (informally) alongside her French and English Studies degree, is keen to get the opportunity to develop those language skills further so has applied to “Waseda University and the International Christian University in Japan for a postgraduate degree (Comparative Cultures at ICU and Culture and Communication at Waseda). In case I’m not accepted, I have also applied for a job at two different teaching companies that provide English teaching in Japan (Aeon and Gaba). I also plan to apply at Interac, which is a company that hires Assistant teachers to help with English teaching at Japanese High Schools and Junior High Schools. I am quite determined to get to Japan in one way or another, so I’m hoping…” We’ll keep our fingers firmly crossed! And Luise, a student of French and Spanish, has similarly potentially intercontinental travel on the horizon, having been accepted for an English teaching assistantship in Colombia. For administrative reasons, that might or might not work out, and, in the meantime, Luise has a summer job in Deanston Distillery (as a tour guide): “If Colombia does not work out, I might just stay in Scotland until October and work, then return to Germany and work there (helping families with new-born babies. My au pair experience will come in handy here.) In spring I will look for another opportunity to teach English in South America or Asia, something will eventually work out. I am hoping to get a certificate for teaching German later on – but first I need some experience. Should I feel that I am not a good teacher, I will go into translation (English and Spanish into German).”

Another of our Single Honours French students, Rebecca, is delighted to have just found out that she will be “heading to Canada for the British Council in August. It was a lengthy process and a nerve-racking wait but I now have a position in a secondary school as an English Language Assistant.” And Colm, who has been studying French and Spanish with us, is planning to spend the Summer and possibly the next year working to save some money to be able to undertake a Masters in Translation and Interpreting the following year. And if that doesn’t work out, he and Kitti have grand plans involving taking photos of students proudly holding dissertations on the banks of the beautiful campus lake

We’ll update this post as and when we hear back from other students among this year’s finalists and, most importantly, we wish them all the very best of luck for the future, wherever it might take them!

To 2020 and Beyond for Scotland’s 1+2 Language Policy: Action Plan Launch

This blog post should have been part of last Friday’s updates on what French at Stirling has been up to over the past month or so but, somehow, slipped through the net. Our Language Coordinator, Jean-Michel DesJacques, who is also Stirling’s representative at the UCMLS, attended the launch of the action plan on Scotland’s 1+2 Language Policy a couple of weeks ago and has very kindly found the time to send us this report on the event.

“Taking place just before the Language Show in Glasgow, this was an opportunity for stakeholders across all sectors of education to share their views on the progress made regarding the 1+2 Language Policy.

If you remember, in 2011, the current government launched its 1+2 language policy and stated its commitment to “create the conditions in which every child [in Scotland] will learn two languages in addition to their own mother tongue” over the course of two parliaments or ten years (SNP Manifesto, 2011). Later, the Scottish Government recognised the role that the HE sector could play and stated that it was for the universities themselves to decide on their contribution.

In response to the above, the Scottish branch of the University Council for Modern Languages in Scotland (UCMLS), which represents the interests of university staff working in modern languages, linguistics, cultural and area studies, has committed part of its work since 2013 to supporting the Government’s efforts to implement the 1+2 language policy through a range of cross-sector initiatives, in some of which the University of Stirling is involved such as Student Ambassadors Scheme and the Language Learning, Global Teaching initiative with SCILT.

2017 Glasgow City Chambers March JMDOn Friday 10 March, in the beautiful surroundings of the Glasgow City Chambers, UCMLS launched its action plan after months of consultation with all sectors.  It was an opportunity for all to contribute to and comment on our Action Plan proposals which we will review at yearly intervals.

After some helpful reminders from various colleagues, notably our Chair, Dr. Marion Spöring, on how we got to where we are now, we split into smaller groups for discussion.  There are of course many issues still to be addressed but teacher training seemed to be at the centre of the preoccupations.  I was pleased to note to my discussion group that at Stirling, provisions were in place to train and indeed produce teachers that do not simply meet any minimum requirement.  Au contraire, they are part of our language section just like any other students doing a combined degree, let’s say in French and Politics or Sociology and Spanish.

I am not going to list all the recommendations that were made but in the end, it was good to see so many people dedicated to the provision of languages in Scotland, particularly in a very difficult climate.  I will, however, single out one of them because I strongly believe in the relevance of languages and it is a pity that languages have been left out:  To lobby for a move from STEM to MELTS.  I see no reason why languages should not be included.”

Let the lobbying start here! Many thanks to Jean-Michel for taking the time to send us this post.