Asseyez-vous et attention (Take a seat and listen up)! Make sure you have a fountain pen, baguette for snacking and this CM article pulled up on your desktop. Everyone, please say “bonjour (hello)” to your four new French advisors, straight from University of Washington. They’ve come in today to tell you that it’s all going to be okay; You’re going big places with that French degree.
What’s so great about my French degree?
Christina Sztajnkrycer, UW graduate student, reminds us that there’s always someone to talk to. “There are a lot of Francophone countries and places around the world, French is a useful tool for travel and work that might be related to or in a French-speaking place. And, there is always vacation in France where a little French would make the experience all the more fulfilling.”
Take that summer off to travel from Brittany to Nice or explore the island territories and French-speaking countries in Africa. If you’ll be traveling for work, maybe that meeting just happens to be in an office across the Seine in Paris.
Do I really belong in the Francophone world?
“Find ways in which you can apply the skills you learn as a French student in other ways,” said Preston Albertine, a UW graduate student and teaching assistant. “Things like communication and critical thinking, in which you may not be using your language all the time but you can still use a lot of the skills that you learn in the learning of a language.” Or if all else fails, just snack. “Go to France and eat a lot of döner kabobs.”
Or try another kind of snack. “I think you should actually just throw yourself into a relationship with a French person,” said Aimie Shaw, a UW Lecturer. “Lovers’ quarrels are the best way to learn the language.” Eat those döner kabobs (give or take a love affair, with a few crêpes everyday) and seek out a community project where you’ll utilize your skills.
Can I Really be FLUENT?
“I think that just living in the language—to stop being afraid of making mistakes when you’re living in the language and making those mistakes and becoming less self conscious about making those mistakes— is actually what’s going to help you master the language, so to speak,” Shaw said. And beyond mastery, you might actually have a good time. “Speaking another language as a near-native speaker opens many doors, in many professions, so it is definitely worth sticking with it,” said Hedwige Meyer, a UW Principal Lecturer in French. “On top of that, it’s fun to learn a language.”
So go on, vivre un peu (live a little), and sign up for that study abroad, apply for graduate school or spend a year in a francophone country. Your future is shining bright, just like the Eiffel Tower. Cheesy ending, right? But it’s said that the French love cheese…