Tag: University of Stirling

‘Parlez-vous franglais?’: Starting a Semester Abroad in Tours

Much sooner than I anticipated, following on from the promise last week that we’d be posting some articles by students embarking on their semester of Study Abroad, I’m delighted to be able to start that particular series with this great post from Mairi:

‘I have been in Tours for almost a week now and it has been a very overwhelming and exhausting week. I arrived on Thursday evening, 12 hours after leaving my home in Scotland. I travelled with my friend and course mate Rhiannon who is also studying in Tours with me this semester. Both of us were tired, exhausted and nervous to start our new life in France. We checked in to our hotel and went to McDonalds which is somewhat ironic when you are in one of the best places for food in the world and you choose to go to a fast food chain, but we were starving and it was just around the corner from our hotel.

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The next day we went to collect our keys for our accommodation in student halls of residence which required using buses, trams and taxis. Not an easy task when you’ve never visited Tours before, and you’ve overestimated your level of French. Nevertheless, after numerous conversations in franglais (a made-up combination of French and English) we moved in and unpacked our suitcases that we had spent so long packing. After that we explored the city and tried to get our bearings, again not simple but we’re slowly getting there.

2019 edwards tours cathedral pic jan19On Saturday we did some more exploring and visited Tours Cathedral, one of the most beautiful cathedrals I’ve ever seen – similar to Notre Dame with its gothic architecture, high ceilings and stained-glass windows. It was simply breath-taking and provided myself and Rhiannon with a few moments of welcome peace after what had been a very stressful and emotional few days. Later in the evening we went to meet with some students from the International Society, we got chatting with a few girls (Sam, Emily and Marie) and then went for pizza with them afterwards. Emily and Marie were here last semester so they knew their way around the city very well and were able to recommend places to eat as well as directing us on our way home.

In the last few days I’ve done lots of exploring, shopping and tasting delicious French cuisine (there is a reason France is known for its bread and cakes). It has not been easy, what with adapting to a new culture, trying to understand and speak French, as well as becoming familiar with an unfamiliar city. It takes time but as the days go on it gets easier to understand the city around me. Next week I start classes which will be a welcome routine to get into and I’m looking forward to all the trips and travelling that I have lined up. More coming soon.  A bientôt.’

2019 edwards tours pic i jan19

Many thanks to Mairi for this great article! We hope the semester continues to go well and look forward to updates over the weeks ahead.

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Language Assistantships and Semesters Abroad

At the moment, we have 8 French at Stirling students off on British Council English Language Assistantships, mainly dotted across metropolitan France but with one student in Quebec for the year and another in Belgium. Paige is one of those in France for the year and she is also participating in the ‘Language Linking Global Thinking’ programme, organised through SCILT, so we’re very happy to be able to post a link here to her latest blog post for LLGT all about festive traditions in France. Quite literally ‘food for thought’ for our Year 2 and final year students currently applying for ELAs for next year…

And while we’re on the topic of time abroad, best wishes to the 18 students embarking on their Semester Abroad at the moment at our partner institutions at the UCO in Angers, at the EGE in Rabat, at Aix-Marseille, at the Université de Lorraine in Nancy, and at the Universities of Tours, Limoges, Geneva and Clermont. We’re looking forward to being able to post some articles and pictures from them as they settle into their new Universities and towns for the semester… and hopefully some articles by students from our partner institutions spending their semester with us in Stirling, too.

‘Languages for Business’ Symposium

French and Spanish at Stirling spent a great morning today at Falkirk Stadium representing the University at the ‘Languages for Business’ Symposium, organised by Laura McEwan of Falkirk Council. The event was aimed at S2 and S3 pupils from a range of local schools, to give them a sense of the benefits that come through studying languages. Cristina Johnston (current French Programme Director) and Ann Davies (Chair in Spanish and Latin American Studies) were there, along with Stefano and Meg, both of whom are in their final semester of degrees involving Languages at Stirling, answering a wide range of questions from dozens of pupils interested in the career paths languages can open up.

The day started with a fantastic presentation by four pupils from Graeme High, followed by a talk by Paul Sheerin, Chief Executive of Scottish Engineering who spoke about the rich and varied career he has enjoyed, all starting – in his view – with the excellent decision to carry on studying a language at secondary school. What was particularly good about both presentations was that they emphasised the ways in which studying a language does so much more than just help you to become fluent in that individual language. It’s about opportunities, challenges, new horizons, new cultures, communication, travel, and so much more…

The pupils were then split into groups and they rotated around a series of workshops and talks, and a ‘market stall’ area which was where Languages at Stirling was located. Over the next 90 minutes or so, we answered questions from the pupils from Falkirk, Graeme, St Mungo’s, Bo’Ness, Grangemouth, Braes, Denny, Larbert, Alva Academy and the Mariner Support Unit ranging from subject combinations it is possible to take with a language (the answer being ‘pretty much any other subject can be combined with a language’) to what careers our students have ended up going into via more detailed questions about the benefits of studying a language for a career in architecture or the legal profession.

From our perspective, this was a great chance to talk to pupils who are just making their first big decisions about studying languages and we hope the pupils enjoyed getting the chance to ask their questions and, in particular, to talk to Meg and Stefano who were able to give them a sense of what current University Languages students do. Thanks again to the organisers and we look forward to participating in other events like this in future.

Erasmus+ Teaching Exchange in Limoges

As we mentioned in the previous blog post, this year’s French at Stirling Study Abroad cohort are just starting their semester at one of our many partner institutions across France and the wider Francophone world. Most of them will be doing so as part of an Erasmus+ exchange so, as they start that particular chapter, we wanted to post an article by Aedín ní Loingsigh who also benefitted from the Erasmus+ programme just before Christmas but, in her case, in order to undertake a teaching exchange with one of our partners:

“In December, I spent a week teaching at the Université de Limoges as part of the Erasmus + staff mobility programme. The location of Limoges in west-central France meant I was able to fly to Bordeaux and spend some time there before beginning my teaching. I had lived in Bordeaux as a student many years ago (I won’t say how many…). Although the city has changed a lot since my time there, it was wonderful to stroll around and recall the thrill of discovering the possibilities that France seemed to offer as I was coming to the end of my undergraduate studies.

I left Bordeaux early on the day that a large Gilets jaunes protest was planned. Driving inland to visit some friends in Agen, I encountered a small number of protesters at various roundabouts. These were all cheerful encounters and did nothing to prepare me for accounts I later heard of the violence that had broken out in Bordeaux after I had left. Chatting with people later, I noticed that the Gilets jaunes was an ‘event’ that people wanted to explain to me just as they wanted me to explain the story of Brexit dominating the news in the UK.

These topics of conversation did not disappear when I got to Limoges. If anything, Gilets jaunes/Brexit became the ‘must-be-acknowledged’ issue to broach, however briefly, each time I encountered somebody new. Some of the most interesting conversations were with the students I taught. They were particularly keen to learn how the Gilets jaunes movement was being interpreted in the UK and what I had understood was happening since my arrival in France. In my responses, I noticed how they ‘corrected’ what they thought was ‘inaccurate’ and how they sometimes disagreed amongst themselves as they tried to ‘explain’ the reasons behind the actions of the French protesters. In my own attempts to ‘explain’ Brexit, I became highly aware that my own views on the subject invariably coloured the version of events I was providing for my French listeners.

2017 oct dodds downey limogesIn the end, I saw that this was a really interesting way into some of the key principles of translation theory that I had been asked to teach during my visit. The key point I had prepared for discussion with the postgraduate Translation Studies students in Limoges was the question of ‘translator stance’, i.e. the idea that translators/interpreters are not neutral figures who simply transform the ‘same’ story into another language. As translators translate, they are also trying to explain. But it is inaccurate to imagine that as translators do this, they somehow remove themselves from the reality of the world they live in and become neutral figures. In other words, it is wrong to think that bias becomes lost in translation. Discussing this idea with the students in Limoges was really rewarding, especially once we had established how our own ‘stance’ can influence our explanation of events across different languages and cultures. As well as thinking about how we translate ourselves, we looked at different examples of translators/interpreters in the colonial era and tried to find evidence of their ‘stance’ in things like footnotes, 2017 quentin hotel-ville-mairie-limoges marchprefaces, diaries and personal correspondence.

The seminars I taught were longer than I am used to in Stirling (two of the seminars I taught were 3 hours long) and the students weren’t quite as used to working in groups as students in Stirling are. But they were enthusiastic to work in new ways, they were well prepared, and they had lots of ideas they wanted to share. They were also happy to be active translators in the classroom and willingly helped me to find equivalents for any terms and concepts I couldn’t find in French. In the end, the length of seminars went unnoticed. Moreover, with my teaching largely timetabled for the morning (8.30am starts are quite common), I had plenty of time to go to the university restaurant for a delicious three-course CROUS lunch for less than 7€ — students pay even less. In some respects, the university buildings and teaching facilities in Limoges were less well maintained than in Stirling but the emphasis on healthy, affordable food and communal eating was really inspiring and made me wish it was done so effortlessly in our own university.

My time in Limoges was too brief. I only managed to see a little of the city centre and had no time to explore the beautiful countryside I had seen on my long train journey from Agen. But I saw enough to want to go back and make teaching in France something I try to do more often. Learning from the students in Limoges, translating at the same time as I was teaching about translation, and being confronted in real time with the complexity of communicating ideas back and forth between English and French was deeply enriching. I had many wonderful experiences in Limoges but what it reminded me above all else was the importance of exchange: of engaging with other ways of doing things, of learning about/from differences of culture and opinion, and of striving to be open at all times to new experiences.

Finally, two discoveries from my week in France might be useful to students in Stirling reading this blog as they prepare for discussion of topical matters related to France this Spring:

  1. This podcast from France Culture called L’esprit public. It comes out every Sunday and is a really clear and accessible discussion of the big political events of the previous week.
  2. This short text from Édouard Louis, Qui a tué mon père. It is a very moving, personal account of this young author’s relationship with his father crossed with a more detached, sociological attempt to understand the cultural and economic factors shaping working class life in North East France. Although it doesn’t directly address the ongoing political upheaval in France and the significance of the Gilets jaunes, it was the best ‘translation’ I came across of the deep frustration and anger that is underpinning this movement.”

Many thanks to Aedín for the great blog post and to our partners at Limoges for their hospitality!

New Semester: Welcome Back!

First day of teaching for the Spring semester and French at Stirling is back!

So, welcome back, firstly, to the over- 250 students registered across our various French modules, from Year 1 Advanced and Beginners’ streams all the way through to final year Core Language and dissertations. And to those of you reading this as French at Stirling students embarking on your integral Semester Abroad or entering the second half of your year as an English Language Assistant, we hope you have a great time and look forward to tales of your studies, work  and travels as the semester progresses.

On the staffing front, following Bill Marshall’s retirement at the end of last Summer, we were sorry to say goodbye to our colleague David Murphy who left to take up a new role at the University of Strathclyde at the start of January. We wish him all the very best in the new job. As regular blog readers will know, we’ve made a series of great new appointments to French at Stirling and we’re delighted that Hannah Grayson has now joined us as a Lecturer in French and Francophone Studies, working alongside Aedín ní Loingsigh and Emeline Morin who both started last semester, and the rest of the French at Stirling team.

As ever, there’ll be plenty of blog posts over the days and weeks ahead with details of what our students and staff have been up to over the past few months and plans for the months ahead so watch this space but, in the meantime, welcome back to the new semester and welcome back to French at Stirling!

New publication by Bill Marshall

Although he retired a couple of months ago, we’re delighted to see that our former colleague Bill Marshall is keeping himself busy with a new piece about works by Copi (entitled ‘Ne pas s’asseoir’) that forms part of French sociologist and historian Antoine Idier’s ground-breaking work on 130 years of LGBT+ history in France. More about the project here and here!

Experiences of Exile: Week of Events

The University of Stirling is hosting a special week of events under the theme ‘Experiences of Exile’ to launch the new exhibition in the Pathfoot Gallery of the same name.

2018 Ivey un-balcon-sur-la-mer-1A View of Love Screening, 8th November, 4.30/5.30pm

Kicking us off the Macrobert Arts Centre is hosting a special screening of A View of Love/Un Balcon sur la mer (2010 dir. Nicole Garcia) as part of the French Film Festival programmeA View of Love is a romantic mystery film about three French children who left Algeria very suddenly during the last violent months of the War of Independence in 1962. The film moves between past and present as the characters, now adults in France, rediscover each other and their past. It illustrates how the nostalgia of the French settlers who lived in Algeria before it became independent, opens the door to the unexpected return of the past.

The film will be preceded at 4.30pm by an introductory talk by Dr Fiona Barclay. Her talk unpacks the emotional and historical attachments which linked Algeria to France for over a century, and which continue to shape the lives of millions living in France today. You can book tickets directly from the Macrobert Art Centre here.

2018 Ivey eudream801Photographer Anna Pantelia presents: The European Dream, 13th November, 3pm

The photographer Anna Pantelia, will discuss her current exhibition ‘The European Dream’ which is on display in the Pathfoot Gallery. Anna Pantelia is an award-winning photojournalist and the Field Communications Manager for Médecins Sans Frontières. She was the official photographer for CERN between 2012-2014. Her photography and interviews have appeared in Newsweek, CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, The Telegraph, The Guardian, Vice News etc. She has worked in Europe, Turkey, South Sudan and Mozambique as a freelancer photographer with international NGOs such as Action Aid, Save the Children, and CARE International. (Oscars, Pathfoot Building, 3pm).

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Autumn Art Lecture, with Professor Alison Phipps, UNESCO Chair: Refugee integration through languages and the arts (University of Glasgow)

Pathfoot Lecture Theatre, 15th November, 5.30pm

Entitled ‘Drift. Float. Drown. Dance: Reflections on refuge from a calabash’, the lecture will reflect on a translational study in Ghana. It saw researchers work alongside a dance company, who expressed the themes of the research in dance form. Places are free for the event but must be booked in advance here.

Many thanks to Beatrice Ivey, Research Assistant on Fiona Barclay’s project, for sending us all this information and we hope to see many of you at these events!