Welcome back to our Spotlight on… series, where we explore different degree subjects in depth; what it’s like to study that subject, the types of modules available, extra opportunities afforded to students of that subject and graduate careers available. In today’s post, Aimee writes about studying French at university. If you’ve got a specific subject you’d like the spotlight on, contact us! You can also tweet us at @ShapingFutures_ – we’d love to hear from you!
Blog post by Aimee Rigby, BA French and Hispanic Studies Graduate, University of Liverpool. Aimee is the Shaping Futures Project Assistant for the Wirral area, and was the driving force before the Shaping Futures Languages Day, held on 14th February 2018 in honour of UNESCO International Mother Languages Day.
‘Déjà vu, ‘bon appétit’, c’est la vie’.
It’s surprising how much French we use in our daily lives and don’t even notice it, however when it’s taken as a subject in school it seems that the only phrases people manage to remember are what colour your pet is, or how many times a week you play tennis. We Brits have a truly terrible reputation for learning languages, but studying them enables us to be global citizens and perhaps more importantly, means we don’t show ourselves up abroad!
This is part of the reason why I chose to study languages at university. I really loved studying French and Spanish at A Level, mainly because my teachers were super enthusiatic and made me excited to learn more about French and Spanish. But I also knew that the skills I would gain through studying for a language degree, such as the ability to communicate well, the opportunity to travel, and increased awareness of world cultures would increase my employability after I graduated.
Language courses at university last four years, and the modules you study are split evenly between language classes, where you perfect your listening, speaking and writing skills, and culture modules. In the first year, these classes are essentially a whistle stop tour of French history, but in later years you can choose from a wide selection, including the presentation of food in French literature, French cinema and even French dressing throughout the ages (my personal favourite!).
A key attraction of studying a languages degree is the chance to spend a year abroad. I lived in Paris for six months whilst studying at the Sorbonne; a really prestigious French university. Living in France was a fantastic experience – I met exchange students from across the world, I ate more croissants than I dare to count and I had the chance to see everything Paris had to offer, including the Eiffel Tower, going to the opera, and seeing the Mona Lisa on my lunch break! Crucially, after having to speak the language every minute of the day, my spoken and written French improved massively.
In my second year, I also had the opportunity to start the University of Liverpool French Society with some of my course mates. We organised social events and French film screenings and it was great to be part of a team that promoted languages in an extra-curricular setting.
When considering career options, a degree in foreign languages opens so many doors: many language graduates work for international companies such as banks and retailers, or some follow more traditional paths such as becoming a translator, a secondary school teacher or even take their skills abroad!
Studying French at university will not only help you to say more than ‘my cat is black and white’ (Mon chat est noir et blanc if you were wondering!) in a foreign language, but you’ll also gain cultural awareness, friends from around the world, and a degree that makes you stand out from the crowd.
You can find out more about the course Aimee studied at the University of Liverpool here – UoL also offers lots of other language courses, which you can find out more about here. The University of Chester, a Shaping Futures partner institution, also offers a variety of language courses.