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Preparing Modern Languages Students for 'Difference'

Going beyond Graduate Skills


Ruth Whittle and Sandra Salin

This book informs and encourages aspiring lecturers and teaching staff in Modern Languages who prepare students for using their language skills in and out of the classroom. Drawing on pedagogical, psychological and language-specific concepts of learning, the book illustrates how such concepts can enhance students’ experience of transitioning from school to university to residence abroad, and beyond.

A key feature of the study is an investigation of students’ fragility as they transition from school to university and, only two years later, from their home institution to their placements abroad. Interventions intended to «teach» transition are shown to be unsuccessful, as the learning through such interventions tends to remain superficial. First-year students are shown to benefit from trust-building between students and teachers and early networking among their peers to build self-confidence. In contrast, prior to studying abroad students benefit more from intercultural awareness training, including linguistic, cultural, social, academic and/or emotional aspects.

The book serves as a useful basis for discussion in Modern Languages departments about curriculum change and university policy with regard to resourcing the Humanities.

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6. The Better French Living Project: Preparing Students for ‘Difference’ in France (Sandra Salin)


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6  The Better French Living Project: Preparing Students for ‘Difference’ in France

The Better French Living Project (BFL) was started in the French section of Newcastle University School of Modern Languages (SML) in the early months of 2014. It was originally designed to address recurrent problems encountered by second-year students studying French, nearly all of whom would spend their third year abroad. These issues were identified through direct contact with students abroad, teaching experience, and scholarly activities.

In 2010, becoming Year Abroad Officer for Francophone countries gave me the opportunity to become directly involved – through phone conversations, e-mails and pastoral visits – with all of the students who were spending their year abroad in French-speaking countries. This regular, direct contact with a substantial number of students1 enabled me to identify what actually constituted their main challenges while abroad, how they reacted to them, and how they did, or did not, learn from them. ← 169 | 170 →

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