Tag: Language learning

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.

“Languages Open Doors”: From Stirling to a Traineeship in Brussels

A little flurry of blog posts will appear over the next couple of days as various plans and projects involving staff and students in French at Stirling take shape and I’m very pleased to be able to start the ball rolling with another blog post by one of our graduates from last year. Henry Caffarena finished his BA Hons in French and Spanish this time last year and has very kindly taken the time to send us this update on where life and languages have taken him since then:

2017 Henry Caffarena photo“I have nothing but good things to say about my time studying French at Stirling. I would say that the course is both diverse and challenging as it offers an ample approach to the language itself and its cultural spread across the globe. Furthermore, I also found the course very welcoming to students with different levels. Overall, it helped me improve my French and has definitely contributed to my success in landing a traineeship at the European Commission in Brussels, Europe’s political capital where speaking French is essential.

So far, these past 2 months at Commission have been a time of learning and networking. I am working in a multicultural and multilingual environment and everyday is different and challenging. Unfortunately, I can’t go into much detail about what I do because of confidentiality clauses and boring blabla, but all in all, I am happy. Speaking languages is a massive +1 when you are applying for jobs. Recruiters know they can train people to do the job in a few weeks/months, but teaching you a language that is vital to their business? That’s a different story.

At present, I am halfway through my Traineeship and have recently been interviewing with Gartner, the information technology research and advisory company. I know what you must be thinking – take a chill pill. To be honest, it was my intention to take a little break from work after my traineeship but they were looking for graduates who spoke French and I couldn’t resist. Hopefully I will get a call with good news soon. I guess what I’m trying to say is that languages open doors and there are doors all over the world! French is a very important language spoken in many different places and there are plenty of organisations in the private and public sector in need of your skills.”

Best of luck to Henry for the Gartner interview – keep us posted! – and thanks again for taking the time to send this post.

 

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.

“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.

“Studying at Stirling makes me feel like I have come long way”: Erasmus exchange in Stirling

Every year, we get the chance to welcome to Stirling students from our numerous Eramus and other exchange partners across France and the wider Francophone world, either for one semester or for a full academic year, and I’m really pleased to be able to post this article by Quentin Rataud who is here for a Spring semester Erasmus exchange from our partner in Limoges.

2017 Quentin pic March“In 2015 I graduated from the Faculty of Arts and Letters of the University of Limoges in France with a Bachelor of Arts in English Studies. I studied British and North-American civilisation and literature, as well as arts analysis, linguistics, and translation. I have been passionate about English since high school and ever since I have always been eager to learn more about the English-speaking world. After graduating, I decided to take my language studies further and applied to do a Master’s Degree in English Studies at Limoges.

Studying foreign cultures and a foreign language is marvellous, but I felt like something was missing in my university training. I felt the need to study abroad, so I applied to the Erasmus exchange programme to study in the United Kingdom. My home university offered me the opportunity to study at the University of Stirling. I had never been to Scotland before and to me it is the best way to meet the people and the wonders of this great nation.

I have chosen to study linguistics and translation here at Stirling to try to improve my English, besides practicing it every day. It turned out that I was right to do so! Things are different compared to what I was used to in France. There, I was taught about theory so now I have all the tools to improve and study in a more pragmatic way.

More than 2 months have already passed since I arrived in Scotland and I must admit that time flies. I have met many great people here, everything is different from home. I have the chance to live on campus, and I really enjoy it. Studying abroad provides you so many opportunities, it has considerably changed my everyday life and I feel happier about it.

The University of Stirling offers several programmes and services to help students, inter alia the Careers and Employability Service, which is helpful for students who do not exactly know what they would like to do after graduating. Also, the teaching staff is admirably available and never hesitates to help students, providing them information and suggestions for their future careers. I wish more universities would follow their example.

I am honestly glad to be here in Scotland. It makes me feel like I have come such a long way. As most students concerned about the future, studying abroad helped me to find my way. I cannot thank sufficiently all the people who allowed me to study at Stirling.”

Many thanks to Quentin for this article and for the very kind words about Stirling – we’re delighted you’ve enjoyed your semester here and hope you’ll keep in touch once you go back to France. And, who knows, maybe one day a PhD in Stirling will beckon…

“French is a global language”: from whisky tasting in Belgium to language teaching in Portugal

And, following on from Beth Young’s article, tales from another of our graduates, John McCallum who completed his BA Hons in International Politics and Languages in 2012 and whose language skills have seen him crisscrossing Europe for work ever since.

“My first role after graduating from the University of Stirling in 2012 in French and International Politics was as a sales and marketing executive with a whisky distillery, Springbank, in my hometown of Campbeltown, Argyll. During that year I had the chance to travel in Europe and work several times in francophone Belgium, visiting French-speaking stockists and taking whisky tastings in French. It was a great experience to be able to talk about your town and a local industry to people in their own mother tongue.

Using French in a professional situation can be different than just practising socially, especially when there is industry-specific vocabulary to learn to help you do the job better, and more time pressure on you to deliver it. On completing my studies I felt at a really strong level, though, and that is testament to the range of material we studied and the opportunity for conversation on various topics while in a classroom setting at Stirling.

Another reason for having the confidence to speak in the language was having spent a semester abroad in Paris, an unforgettable experience. As well as having the opportunity to attend Sciences Po, the popular pathway for some of France’s past and present political elites, I joined a football club and spent my Sunday afternoons in various banlieue towns in the Val de Marne area, learning a different style of football and what can only be described as ‘français des vestiaires’ on a thrice-weekly basis. I would echo another 2012 graduate Jonny Terrell’s post in saying I wish it could’ve been for the whole year!

But at Stirling too I always felt that my degree drew on great expertise in both languages and politics departments. I consistently had the support I needed and met lots of great people when studying there, from not only Scotland but from an international background.

After time spent working in newspaper reporting in Argyll, the odd weekend stint as a purser on a passenger RIB from Campbeltown to Ireland, and working with another distillery on the isle of Islay for a year under a French parent company, I have had lots of opportunities to use my language skills, both in the workplace and when simply wanting to make conversation and practise everyday French.

For the past six months I have been working as an English-language teacher in Braga, in the north of Portugal. I am working on improving my Portuguese, and although it is a complex language itself with tough grammar and pronunciation, I would like to try becoming a lusophone too, even when back living in Scotland. However, French is a popular lingua franca here given the immense movement of people and familial links established between the countries during the past 60 years and has saved me a few times when the other person in the conversation hasn’t had a word of English!

It shows that learning a global language like French can have practical uses much more diverse than you originally imagined. I would thoroughly recommend Stirling as a place to learn the language.”

Many thanks – obrigado! – to John for sending this article and we look forward to finding out where your languages will take you next!