By THOMAS SACCENTE – CENTO WRITER
THE BASICS OF WHAT UNDERCLASSMEN CAN EXPECT AFTER DECLARING FRENCH AS THEIR MAJOR
With the onset of globalization and the increasing prevalence of the Internet, learning about other cultures has become a necessity in the modern world. Every nation is connected and many of the world’s problems can only be solved by cooperation. Numerous companies are requiring their employees to be bilingual in order to accommodate foreign business. Therefore, it is only natural that prospective first-years and undecided sophomores are considering a major in French.
The French program at Centre has a devoted student following. As of the fall 2013 semester, there are currently fifteen students majoring in French, with twenty more students pursuing French as a minor. Those who major in French are passionate about the subject. The concentration presents them with the opportunity to pursue a variety of professions after graduation.
Such occupations include, but are not limited to, working in the Peace Corps, being a translator, studying law, and even going to medical school. However, perhaps most rewarding out of all of these options is the prospect of actually working in France or in one of the many French-speaking countries around the world. Sophomore David Gill has high hopes that his decision to major in French will give him the opportunity to have a successful teaching career in France.
“After graduation, I would like to pursue a Master’s degree in Foreign Language Education. I would love to spend several years, if not more, in a Francophone country, teaching and fully immersing myself in the lifestyle,” Gill said. “I’ve always wanted to teach either English or French [and] I cannot wait to see what opportunities lie ahead after my career at Centre.”
In order to prepare students for these promising job opportunities, Centre’s French program has an expansive curriculum that covers all of the areas necessary in mastering a foreign language. The basic requirement of all French majors is to take four semesters of language courses. Such requirements are in place so students can become fully acquainted with the many fundamentals in writing and speaking the French language, which will be invaluable in understanding the content of future courses. These include the Introduction to French Language and Culture, Intermediate Workshop, and Group Conversation, among others.
After taking the language courses, French majors must complete a series of required content courses. Such courses are classes that allow students to immerse themselves in specific aspects of French culture and history for a semester, including French Literature, the History of Paris, and the History of Napoleon. While all of these courses are considered to be demanding in their workload, Professor and French Program Chair Allison Connolly describes the courses as being critical to a liberal arts education because of how they offer a much more in-depth learning experience.
“We want to provide students with a well-rounded exposure to the culture of the French-speaking world,” Connolly said. “It is not enough to just learn the language. We want them to know that historical context is important in order to understand how France became the country that it is today and how France’s history influenced the art and literature that emerged from it.”
In addition to these many courses, one of the important highlights of being a French major is having the option of taking part in one of Centre’s study abroad programs. The college offers a wide range of programs in France that can last from a three-week CentreTerm course to a three-month semester, which allows students to fully immerse themselves in the energy of a new and different European lifestyle.
The most notable of these is the program in Strasbourg, where students can study French language and culture in a beautiful city that rests on the German border. The goal of these excursions is to grant students the opportunity to learn about the French-speaking world in a way that could never be replicated in a classroom. No matter the teacher or the curriculum, students confess that no learning experience will rival living in a foreign country for several months and being forced to speak the language in order to get by. Senior Lauren Fall described her time in Strasbourg as one that was both life-changing and informative in that it helped her understand the culture in ways that she never thought possible.
“I studied abroad in Strasbourg during the fall [semester] of my sophomore year in 2011 and it was the most incredible experience that I have had as a Centre student,” Fall said. “I truly became a part of a new culture and I will never forget the experience or the feeling of being French.”
For those prospective students interested in studying a foreign language rich in history and full of culture, French may be the right choice. A team of talented and enthusiastic professors guides students in their studies as they pursue a worthwhile major that will serve them well after graduation.