Tag: Mandarin

‘Hearing someone speaking another language always seemed slightly magical’

I’m delighted to say that responses are still coming in to the emails I sent out to colleagues and students last week asking about how and why they started learning languages… and how and why they’ve kept going with them. Emeline Morin is a Lecturer with us at Stirling, originally from France but now working in Scotland:

Like Mathilde, I started learning bits and bobs of English from songs. For instance, aged 5 or so, I vividly remember my mum telling me what “I will always love you” means from Whitney Houston’s song.

I only properly started to learn English in high school, aged 11, and I was very excited to start. I come from a very rural part of France and never really travelled as a child, so to me, hearing someone speak a foreign language, no matter which one, always seemed slightly magical.

I’ve always been a big reader, and when I think about it, my love for books definitely impacted my wish to learn languages. When I was 12, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire came out in English in July and would not be published in French until the end of November. I was so frustrated, I spent hours on forums searching for the (usually fairly rough) translations people wrote chapter by chapter. That’s when I became very dedicated to learning English because I decided that I just had to read the books in original from then on.

In high school, I also picked up Latin (which included a trip to Italy!) and Spanish. By the end of high school, I loved languages so much, I decided to do a degree in English and Spanish and I also picked up a bit of Mandarin, Russian, and German. (For some reason, German is the one language I have tried and just do not seem to be able to retain AT ALL).

This year marks the tenth anniversary of my move to Scotland. Being able to live abroad and to settle down here, to make friends and family has been incredible. Not only do I still feel that I am learning every day, I have also learnt a lot about my own language and culture while teaching it and confronting it to an outsider’s point of view.

Learning a language is not always easy, and is sometimes frustrating, but I don’t know of many things as rewarding either.’

Many thanks to Emeline for finding the time to send us this post – we’re hoping to find ways of following up on the references to songs and books and language learning over forthcoming blog posts!

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French at Stirling student heading to China

As has been mentioned elsewhere on this blog, this year we’re welcoming the first cohort of students on our double degree programme in Translation and Interpreting, run in partnership with Hebei University in China. A group of Stirling students – some doing French and/or Spanish but others from a range of subject areas – volunteered back in the Autumn semester to act as ‘buddies’ for these students to help them get to know Stirling (the University and the town) and to adapt to life in Scotland.

To help further with the transition from the initial 3 years of study in China to the final year here at Stirling, we have arranged for one of the buddies to get the opportunity to go to Hebei later this Spring – in just a few weeks now – to meet with next year’s students. All the buddies were invited to apply and, after a very competitive selection process, Elliot Knight, currently in the 4th semester of his BA Hons in French, was selected to act as our ambassador and to travel to China. With the departure date fast approaching, here are his thoughts on the trip that lies ahead:

2017 HNU Elliot photo March“I first heard about the buddy programme for HNU students at the beginning of Autumn semester last year. Immediately, I knew that it was something that I wanted to be a part of, as I have always had a keen interest in foreign cultures. The buddying programme has been rewarding in several different ways. Firstly, it has been an interesting cultural experience. The community of HNU students has been very kind in sharing aspects of their culture with me. A highlight of this for me was being invited to learn how to prepare Chinese dumplings, and then of course eating them afterwards. In exchange, I have shared aspects of Scottish culture with HNU students. An experience which was memorable for them was going to Settle Inn in Stirling, an old traditional pub, to listen to live Scots folk music. However, I have found that the real value of the buddying programme has been the friendships that I have fostered with HNU students; people that I would have been unlikely to meet without the buddying programme.

Of course, I am delighted that I have been selected to be Stirling’s student ambassador to HNU. Whilst I am there, I will be introduced to next year’s class of HNU students that will be coming to Stirling. I will be presenting to them the benefits of studying at Stirling University, and indeed studying in Scotland. I am proud to be representing Stirling University at one of its partner institutions abroad, as I have had a great experience here and I will be delighted to share that with our partners in China. I am also looking forward to the cultural aspect of the trip, as China is a place that I have never been to and I adore experiencing new places and cultures. Learning fluent Mandarin before I go may be a little tricky, however I will try to learn a little to use whilst I am there. I am grateful to the University for giving me this responsibility and I will represent the University of Stirling to the best of my ability.”

Many congratulations to Elliot on having been selected to represent the University in China, and thanks to all the buddies for the work they’ve been doing this year. Thanks also to the HNU students who are here this year and who’ve been taking the time to teach Stirling-based students about a range of aspects of life and studying in China. We will, of course, look forward to Elliot’s tales of his trip when he’s back on Scottish soil!