Stirling, Kaohsiung, Aix-en-Provence…

And, following on from the update from Charlotte, another blog post from one of our 2017 graduates, Lysiane, who completed her BA Hons in French and Spanish just over 18 months ago:

‘After graduating I decided to go back to where I grew up in Taiwan. I went to Kaohsiung from January to August and studied Chinese at the University of Wen Zao and I started to teach at cram schools. It was really a self-discovery journey, to explore the real world as an independent woman and figure out what I really wanted to do with my life.

2019 Dixte Lang School kid-area1I am now living in Aix-en-Provence and I have opened a language centre with my sister. We offer English, French, Spanish and Chinese classes to everyone from the age of 3 to 100. We have conversation groups on Mondays and Tuesdays where we just chat together over biscuits and coffee. At this time of year, we have a lot of high school students who are looking for help to prepare them for the Baccalaureate. I also do private tutoring on the side so I’m teaching all the time.

Recently with my parents, we decided it might be worthwhile I actually do a Master’s degree in teaching since, if I wanted to work elsewhere in France or abroad, in the future, I would have a recognized qualification to do so but also mainly to study the methodology of teaching. I can speak the languages but teaching them is another thing. I have learnt this through experience and whilst doing my TEFL certificate online. So, this September the plan is for me to try the ‘Professeur des Ecoles’ post-grad in Toulouse and I am going to be sitting the CAPES (fingers crossed!).

2019 Dixte Photo Feb19Afterward, I am a little uncertain exactly what I’ll do, maybe I’ll go abroad to teach or I was even thinking of working in the world of diplomacy as the Master’s I’ll be doing opens doors to this field and to translation, too. I also think I would really like to work as a Special Needs Teacher but in order to do so, one must first be a qualified teacher so we’ll see if afterward, I can try to specialize in that. I guess we’ll find out what life has in store for me. As always, I stay optimistic and I chase all the possible opportunities presented to me while keeping a passionate and determined mindset to succeed.’

Many, many thanks to Lysiane for taking the time to send us this post and we hope all continues to go well with the language centre, and wish you all the best with the CAPES in due course, too!


“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!

From French at Stirling to Kenya, Guatemala, Costa Rica, France, Kazakhstan, the Czech Republic and beyond…

We’re always delighted when former students get back in touch to let us know where their degree has taken them. Few of our former students have ended up collecting quite as many airmiles as Susan Peattie! It’s great to see how a degree in French can open so many doors, going way beyond the limits of the Francophone world…

“My name is Susan Peattie and I graduated in 2011 with a BA Hons in French and Spanish. I really enjoyed my time at University of Stirling. At 38, I was a mature student and before starting my course I had worked in the Jobcentre for fifteen years.

Prior to starting my studies, I went to Mombasa in Kenya to teach in a primary school for a few months. During my time there, I helped at Calvary Zion Children’s Home. On my return from Kenya, my friends and I founded a charity in Scotland and we raise funds to help with the education costs for the 44 children at the home.

In my first year, I found the challenge of doing advanced French tough at times, as I had done the Higher in just six months, and I realised I did not have a good grounding of the basics like the younger students who had studied French for several years at school. Also, I had never written an academic essay before in my life, but with the help of the staff and a few good books, my confidence grew!

I loved having the opportunity to spend a year abroad. I went to Guatemala, where I taught in a school run by a UK based charity, Education for the Children . The children have very tough lives living in poor conditions and very often with serious family problems to cope with too. I lived with a local family, and as I was teaching in Spanish, by the end of my time there, I was dreaming in Spanish! I then travelled to Costa Rica and I lived in a hut near to the beach on the Osa Peninsula. Here I helped at a conservation project and we monitored sea turtle activity. The aim of the project being to protect the nesting sites in order to increase sea turtle numbers.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I then spent six months in France studying at three private language schools in Bordeaux, Montpellier and Chambery. Up until this time, my degree included Professional Education, so on my return to university life I had to complete a placement. I went to the placement, but I felt really unsettled. The teachers were obviously under pressure to achieve results, complete endless paper work and my impression was that teaching the kids was something that just got “fitted in” if time allowed! I am not sure if my year out in the wider world was at the root of this or the fact that I did not want to join another rat race, but I made the decision to change my degree to French and Spanish only.

I graduated in 2011 in absentia because I had taken up the challenge of climbing Kilimanjaro in order to raise funds for the children’s home in Mombasa. After the climb, I travelled by bus up to Mombasa to spend the rest of the summer with the children. When my friends there discovered that I had missed my graduation, they decided to give me a graduation party. Seventy people attended, two goats were slaughtered and they had even found me a gown to wear! They sang a beautiful Swahili song for me and it was a fantastic afternoon I will always remember. Here I am being fed cake – another tradition in Kenya!

Graduation Lunch
Graduation Lunch

As I still wanted to teach, I completed a TEFL course with the intention of working in a French or Spanish speaking country. However, I saw a vacancy for a Kindergarten Teacher in Almaty, Kazakhstan and I applied as I felt it would be a great life experience. I was delighted to get the job, started in August 2011 and worked there for two years. It truly was an amazing experience. The kids were fantastic, as were the people I met there, the culture and architecture was great to see too. The minus 25 winter temperatures took a bit of getting used to though!

Today, I am in Vsetín, a sleepy town in the south east of the Czech Republic close to the Slovak border. We are surrounded by hills and there are endless hiking and cycling trails to enjoy. Here, I work for a private language school teaching English to children, teens and adults. The Czech people are very welcoming and hospitable, often inviting us to their villages for local festivals or their house for dinner! Susan Costumes

Teaching English as a second language is a great job, and for me the best part of moving to a new country is meeting new people and discovering the culture and customs of the country. In the future, I definitely plan to work in French and Spanish speaking countries. Although I have not really used my languages to any great extent since graduating, there is no doubt that having a language degree has given me an in depth knowledge of grammar and an insight into how it is for the students learning a foreign language. Also, most language schools require a degree in order to apply.

I have no idea where my journey will take me in the future, but I think that is all part of the excitement!”

We wish Susan all the best for the future and look forward to hearing more about her travels and experiences across the globe.