Summer French Language Program at Université Laval

Name: Kate Bliven

Type of Project: Education Abroad

For my STEP project, I enrolled for a 5-week intensive French language program at Université Laval in Québec City, Québec, Canada. I took 3 courses throughout the week (6 credit hours total) and participated in a diverse array of activities, all of which were completely in French. The courses allowed me to complete nearly all my requirements for my French minor and the immersive quality of the program greatly improved my French language abilities.

The most obvious, and initially anticipated change during this program, was my ability to comprehend and express myself in French. I have been studying the language for over 6 years but rarely had the opportunity to practice it in a setting with native speakers or for prolonged periods of time. Over the years, I have taken several of French classes, but none like these which did not include the translation aspect of comparing French language to the equivalent English. I also took a pronunciation and phonetics class which I had never taken in my traditional USA schooling.

The other changes and transformations were much more difficult to grasp initially. This was my first time travelling alone and I have never been somewhere so far away for so long without others who I knew that I could rely on for support and familiarity. I lived in a room alone, had to cook meals for myself, figure out transportation, and problem solve when things did not work out by myself, all in language that is not my mother tongue. Adjusting to this new regular was difficult the first few weeks, but I was able to navigate it and eventually find purpose and enjoyment.

I had many new experiences while in Québec. My favorite activities were seeing different parts of the city and surrounding areas with the other students and the animateurs. While they we simple trips, the fact that we were practicing and learning French while doing something fun greatly improved the experience. Learning a foreign language is extremely beneficial if it can be directly applied to life. The classroom aspects were necessary to teach the semantics of language, but the real-word is where it becomes applicable. Associating words and sentences with visuals and emotions is a priceless way of learning.

This program also exposed me to a variety of different people. A majority of the other students in the program were young adults, mostly from other Canadian provinces. These Canadian students attended the university with a scholarship given to them by the Canadian government to promote the bilingualism of the country. There were also other students from the USA and other countries as well such as Mexico, Germany, China, and many others. I loved hearing the different reasons for attending and the backgrounds of my classmates. Some had been in French immersion schools their whole lives while some arrived having never taken a French class. This notion that a language can unify so many different people is fulfilling.

I wish that more people had the opportunity to learn a language and then actually get to apply it the way I did. It is one thing to learn a second language in a classroom and something completely different to learn it in a real-life setting. I found myself thinking in French and having to remind myself that I could not text my friends or call my parents in the same language that I was using every day for 5 weeks. This program made me understand the true meaning of language. It is for communication. Language is not perfect and those speaking it are not perfect either. There were times I became frustrated or compared my abilities to others, but in the end, I improved, and I communicated.

My French, no doubt, improved and I am excited to continue practicing and using it while at OSU, in travel, and hopefully my career. The personal skills are applicable to so much of my future. I know I will have much more confidence and positivity when it comes to facing similar obstacles. Resiliency is something that can only be gained from doing and I am proud of myself for stepping out of my comfort zone. I know I will carry and use these skills for the rest of my life.Image may contain: sky, cloud and outdoorImage may contain: 1 person, smiling, standing, sky, child, mountain, ocean, cloud, outdoor, nature and waterImage may contain: one or more people, people riding bicycles, bicycle, outdoor and nature
Image may contain: 11 people, people smiling, people standing and nightImage may contain: sky, cloud and outdoorImage may contain: sky, cloud and outdoor

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