CSUSB Advising Podcast

Ep. 48 - What is the French major?

March 23, 2023 Matt Markin Season 1 Episode 48
Ep. 48 - What is the French major?
CSUSB Advising Podcast
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CSUSB Advising Podcast
Ep. 48 - What is the French major?
Mar 23, 2023 Season 1 Episode 48
Matt Markin

In Episode 48 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with Dr. Elizabeth Martin, Professor in the World Languages & Literatures department! What is the French major? What do students learn in their classes? What career have graduates go into? How does Study Abroad factor into this? 

Learn more about the B.A. in French!

Contact: Dr. Martin, eamartin@csusb.edu 

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Show Notes Transcript

In Episode 48 of the CSUSB Advising Podcast, Matt Markin chats with Dr. Elizabeth Martin, Professor in the World Languages & Literatures department! What is the French major? What do students learn in their classes? What career have graduates go into? How does Study Abroad factor into this? 

Learn more about the B.A. in French!

Contact: Dr. Martin, eamartin@csusb.edu 

Subscribe to the CSUSB Advising Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google and more!

Follow us on social media:

Instagram & Tik Tok - @csusbadvising
Facebook - CSUSB Advising
Twitter - @csusb_advising
YouTube - @csusbadvising

https://csusbadvising.buzzsprout.com/

#acadv #academicadvising #collegemajors #csusb #calstate #highereducation

Subscribe to the CSUSB Advising Podcast on Apple, Spotify, Google and more!

Follow us on social media:

Instagram & Tik Tok - @csusbadvising
Facebook - CSUSB Advising
Twitter - @csusb_advising
YouTube - @csusbadvising

https://csusbadvising.buzzsprout.com/

Welcome back to the CSUSB advising podcast. My name is Matt Markin, an academic advisor here at Cal State San Bernardino. And today we have Dr. Elizabeth Martin, Professor in the World Languages and Literature's department at CSUSB. And Dr. Martin is going to chat with us about the French major. Dr. Martin, thank you so much for being on the podcast with us today.

Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you so very much for having me.

Yeah, it's great for you to be here. And let's get started. One of the first questions we usually ask is, if you can tell us a little bit about yourself and your background in higher education?

Okay, well, I've been in California since 2007, now. It's been, I guess, 16 years. But I came from the Midwest and also the East Coast. I started my teaching career at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. Aand also George Washington, and I taught at the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign for 15 years before landing in San Bernardino. So my background is in second language acquisition, but I also do research and intercultural business communication, and marketing translation. So I do attract some students from the College of Business, but also other other disciplines. And I can talk to you a little bit about about that.

So can you tell us a little bit more like how would you describe the French major,

the major, we have actually overhauled since we moved two semesters. We now have two tracks, one of which is really designed for double majors. So I really want students to know about that, because it has a, it has far fewer units. If you have another major and you want to pop French in there, into the equation, it is completely doable, because of the reduced number of units for that that track that we have. The other track is a full fledged track. This would be appropriate for people who are really going into careers in French. But, you know, we could always discuss, you know, what would be most appropriate for your career goals. We also have a minor. And the minor, of course, has far fewer units than either the majors. And I tell my students, potential students as well that if they want to minor in French, they can really knock that out in a year of study abroad, if they want to, if they're interested in studying abroad, I can give you information on that. And the those units can be knocked out during a study abroad program. There are you know, there are caveats, upper and lower division, but I'm I am well versed in study abroad, I served as the resident director for our programs in France in the European 2015 16. And worked very closely with the Chancellor's Office on this international program. So I get to set you up. You know, if you're interested in study abroad, definitely I can help you make that happen. Yeah, sounds

Good. I think we're Yeah, well definitely circle back to study abroad because now I'm curious to learn more more about that from you. What in terms of like the the major minor, what are students, generally speaking, learning within their classes?

All right, well, we use communicative method, that means that really, we use French in the classroom almost solely and students do become fluent. They are fluent speakers by the time they finish their degrees with us. So that's something to definitely consider. But they're also content based. And that means that there's a very large emphasis on culture. So all of the courses touch on culture. We also have courses such as French literature, different types of French literature, women writers. We look at Francophone cultures around the around the world, French history. We have some fun courses in music, French popular music, we have a food course where you learn to cook French cuisine, and learn all about French food. What else do we have, we have a coat we have a course in art taught in French, business courses that I teach in French. Also, translation phonetics, you know, there's a wide range of topics that we teach. Most of those are upper division when you get into this topic courses, but if you're starting in French, then you would be taking French language courses during your first year and second year, where you also get cultural information, you know, about different different countries around the world. So it's, it's a it's kind of a sweet, sweet setup.

Yeah, sounds like and, of course, we get a lot of questions in terms of career opportunities, or what can I do with this major? Can you talk a little bit about maybe careers that might connect with doing this major or graduates that you've had and what they've gone on to do?

Right. So so French is is a is a language that's spoken five continents by 300 million people. So it really isn't major language for international relations for international business. Canada is our largest trading partner in the United States. So some people work for American companies when they graduate from us that work with customers in Quebec. And so they're dealing with with Quebec, there's a lot of our students work in translation. A lot, I would say maybe the majority, I don't want to say the majority, but a lot of our students who graduate go into teaching. So this is a very good prep preparation for high school teaching, for example. Some students, we have a couple now that are majoring who are in STEM STEM majors. So they're graduating with a degree in say, mathematics and a degree in French, they're double majoring. So when they go on the job market, they're going to be twice as hireable, than the next guy, because they can teach both math and French. They're also Spanish speakers. So presumably, they might be able to teach Spanish if they were, if they got the credentials for that. So I always say to students, you know, diversify, always put as many eggs in your basket as you can, because the job market is tight. And if you've got something extra to offer an employer, you know, by all means, if it's French, wonderful, but it could be another thing, you know, think look at look at what double majors make sense to you, or a minor. And we as professors and advisors, we can help you make that decision, depending on your, your interests, so so people go into teaching, I do have some students that are interested in university level teaching, so they go on to grad school, or they want to work in in the private sector, and they go to grad school, we send them to very prestigious schools. There's one at Middlebury, where you do your ma in Paris, you spend the year in France, and it's a one year program, very prestigious university, we've sent a couple of people out there. Also, CSU Los Angeles has a French Ma. So some people go to grad school. There's also a nice MA program out in Monterey for translators who want to become for example, court interpreters, or one a work in marketing localization. That's where you you translate software and video games and you know, this type of thing, or you subtitle movies, or students are interested in that working for Google, French, French will prepare you for careers, a wide range of careers, depending on what you're you're interested in, you can go into education, but you can also, you know, work in the work in the private sector or work for an NGO, were put in international organization, I do send students to Washington, because there's so many international organizations, there I went, myself worked at the World Bank for three years. And I was hired for my French. So I know what that's like, it was a fabulous experience, fabulous experience I was in I was in a section that worked on West Africa. And we had, if I recall correctly, something like 26 nationalities in our office alone, people around the world, and who some of whom were still my friends today. It was a very, very special experience and working in France. So you know, there, there are a number of things you can do. You can also work in tourism. We haven't had anybody do that yet, but that's a possibility, you know. And then we've also had a couple of people who went on study abroad and stayed, they either fell in love and married somebody you know, and stayed, or they just decided to pursue their career there. And I have one now who wants to do that very thing. So some people ended up relocating to Europe as a result of their study abroad experiences. They're just so enthralled by the experience that they want to make it their home. Oh, yeah. Everybody's experience is different. I think, you know, again, it depends on what you're what you're interested in doing or your skill, your skill set, you know, your personality, what, what would best best suit you and we as advisors and faculty can, can help you sort that out.

And yeah, a lot of great advice there. And I'm sure like, with any major, there's probably misconceptions that some people might have any misconceptions that come to mind that someone might have about the major in French?

I taught the GE courses, you know, where they're taught in English as I talked to students about this hit so what what is what is keeping you from actually learning French, rather than taking a GE courses for the thing? And some of them say, well, it's just too hard, you know, it would be too hard. French, French has really maps on well with other Romance languages, including Spanish and we have so many Spanish speakers on our campus that French makes a lot of sense. You know, I they pick it up quite quite quickly. Of course, you know, we help you with your pronunciation and, and you learn a lot of new vocabulary and whatnot, but, but as Spanish speakers, you know, it's it's quite it's it's a pretty smooth sailing. But even if you're not a native Spanish speaker, French is French is not as difficult as you think. And it's also fun, it's a lot of fun. Our classes are small, you get a lot of hands on and you get to you form friendships with the other students in the classes because they are so small, very tight knit group of majors and minors in French. So that's, that's a plus not being in a very, very large class where you get lost in the crowd. No, we make sure you're taken care of. And so maybe that's one misconception that is too difficult. And maybe as people or parents are telling their, their their kids, French isn't gonna get you anywhere. Why do you want to study French? Well, I can tell you from experience that it will open up doors, and it will improve your job prospects, any language, any additional language will. But French is so widely spoken. And it does give you access to Canada, Europe, lots of countries in Europe, not just France, got Switzerland, Luxembourg, Belgium. And so Africa, there are a lot of opera a lot of opportunities. And also there's a shortage of French teachers in high school. So you're pretty much guaranteed a job as a high school teacher, if you if you study French. I'm actually sending them people who don't have their BA yet.

So desperate for teachers. So that's something somebody thinks about yet it will

help you get a job and you can also add it to your other major, you know, to to fortify your CV when you go on the job market. Why not? I had both I was a double major. I was a music major way back when and and then I tacked on the French major after I studied abroad for music. And by golly, I'm sure glad I did. Because I made a living as a musician for for many years. But you know, then I also had my day gig in French, that helped put food on the table. And I ended up you know, making that my full time career. But so glad I had two ways to make a living, really

Absolutely. And let's say someone's listen to this, and they're like, this sounds like interesting. And I, but I'm on the fence of maybe if I want to declare this as my major, or I'm on the fence of declaring it as a minor. Do you have any suggestions for that student?

I would say, take a class. Yeah, take a class in French, see if it's a good fit. And talk to your French advisor, which would probably be me. Because I'm, I'm the faculty advisor for the French program. But you know, I will I every student is different. And when I have a student asked me that question, I asked them about their major, you know, what is your major? And what do you think you might want to do when you graduate, a lot of people don't know, and you are young, it's not, it's not that big of a deal, you'll figure it out eventually, right. But it does help me decide, okay, this person would be a great candidate for the minor, this person would be a great candidate for the major, you could also add the minor, you know, you could add the minor now, and then bump it up to the major. So you can always change your mind. That's, that's an easy fix to switch from one to the other. But you know, hey, if you want to start with a minor, you can bump it up to, to the major, there is a unit cap. So once you read it reach a certain number of units, the registrar's office is going to be hesitant to allow you to add a major or a minor for that matter, but most specifically the major. So you want to do it early, you know, you want to think about this in your freshman, sophomore year, junior year at the very latest. Because once you hit hit, you know, once you hit that mat that max the unit max, and it gets hard to add another degree program. So I try to try to catch them, you know, early on. But again, you know, you can talk to us and we can help you figure that out. But if you're hesitant, you know, get get some advice, contact me or another faculty member and and we'll advise you accordingly.

Now, I want to circle back to the study abroad. You know, someone might listen to this and says that sounds interesting. What can you tell us about study abroad?

Well, I just I have to guess you know, because this is, this is something that I strongly believe in. It's how it's it has changed my life so much I would studied abroad as an undergrad. And it really set me on the course to a very successful career and all the way around and wonderful friends opened my mind tremendously. I really feel like a global citizen, you know, as a result of that, and my students, the majors, and the minors as well, I would say 95% Study Abroad, they're all doing it. Once they find out that it's possible, and and financially and logistically, they're, they're jumping on board. So here's what we have to offer. We have a July program in Paris, it was the month in Paris. That is a program that is run by the European Studies Association. It is not actually affiliated with the CSU is, but one of our French faculty takes the students, she's she works for them. And she accompanies the group. There is a very tiny scholarship for that it's not much it's like 500 bucks, but you know, hey, but it's open to the general public. So you can go, you could bring your family, you could bring your loved one, or loved ones if you wanted to. That's kind of a nice thing. And it's just July, if you if you can only afford a month, you can do that. Now, if you want to go through the CSU International Programs, then you have a couple of options, you can go for the full academic year, two, Canada, Montreal, specifically, this would be Concordia University. I'll give give you some more information on that in a second. And then the other option is the academic year or this one semester in France. And in France, we have two locations we can send you one is Paris, and the other is Aix-en-Provence, which is Southern France, resembles California, sunny skies, palm trees, warm temperatures, you know, so people want to go down there because of the climate. And it's beautiful. That's a little town, it's a different experience from Paris. And the program is much different. The Exxon vos program is for people who are beginner, intermediate level French, you are in class with other international students from around the world, you know, you might have a lot of Europeans in there, you might be in class with Germans and Swedes, and, you know, Norwegians and Italians and whatnot, Russians. And the teachers are trained in teaching French as a foreign language. So that's good. That's a very nice program for somebody who wants something really structured, who's just learning the language, they will take you if you've just had one French class, that's the only prerequisite French one one worldwide and you're good to go. And the other program is in Paris and that's for they're actually two tracks, you can go as a as a advanced level speaker, you can go if you've had two years of college French, you're eligible to go in, take classes in French and do the whole thing in French. You are dropped in with the local population you are parachuted right into the classroom with French people. So you get no you know, special attention, you're just part of the crowd. So you really have to have some skills to do that. But we've sent lots of students on that program. And then the other the other track up in Paris that's brand new due to the pandemic, they're now offering classes in English. So this is something for business students, people who are doing poli sci, those courses are taught in English and they'll send you to Sciences Po which is a very prestigious international relations University. And you can take your your courses in English and bring that all those credits you know whether they're in French or in English, come back and populate your paws and can be applied to your major when you return. Every major is different. So if you're a business major, then you will you will talk to your business advisor and say hey, how many units can I bring back but in French you can bring back 21. You can bring that seven courses that can be applied to a French major or minor. So yeah, and so the it's very nice that they've opened that up so now you can take courses in English you can do it one semester instead of the full academic year. The other thing oh no and as far as Canada goes, I did want to mention that the Canada program if you go to Canada, you are in Montreal. You're in Concordia. And Montreal is a is a very multicultural city. It's very kind of resembles Los Angeles in that way very much a cultural. But it's a Canada is officially bilingual. And Montreal is split right down the middle there's the the east zone which is French speaking and the West are in zone everything operates in english very strange city cut into like that. So Concordia is in the West Zone, which means that it is run in English everything is run in English like it were you know in California if you were to go to the university on the east end of Montreal you're you're in a French environment. But we take we take you to Concordia so you can go to Concordia. And you can take anything you want in English you can do whatever you're, you know, biology, whatever, whatever your major is, you can do that. In in Canada. If you're a French major or you want to learn French, well you just take French classes in their French department. So we've set people there in Montreal who are biology majors, but also French majors who want to do the French thing and in the Canada Canadian Okay, so there's that there are a lot, a lot of lot of options for study abroad. I do want to mention most definitely, that we have a huge scholarship for study abroad. And people don't know about it. It's called the Switzer. This was a faculty member in the French section. He was in World Languages, who passed away a number of years ago. And he left his entire estate to our department to send people on study abroad. So that money is invested in the stock market, and we are allowed to spend the dividends every year and we can we can award up to $10,000 per student, and that the fund is so huge that in the last, you know, five, six years, we've been able to give $10,000 a piece to students going on study abroad. That's huge. 10,000 smackers, so I want to make sure people know about that. You are you are ranked in terms of your major. So we give the most money to French majors, per his wishes. And then the minors and then anyone from any other program who was studying at a French speaking country is eligible for that scholarship. So definitely, definitely, definitely. Look, look into that. Now I can give you information on that. If you're interested in study abroad, definitely contact me. I tell students that Halloween is the magic magic time Halloween, talk to your family. Think about whether this is going to be possible. Can you take the time off work? Do you think you know financially? It's feasible? And then get your get your application started in November? Yeah, that's, that's that's the rule of thumb, then. And then I could help people with all of that process. But really think Halloween, you know, for the following academic, academic year, and then you have plenty of time to get organized. And get your application in and apply for the scholarships. You know, you'll have plenty of time for that. If you if you follow that that timeframe.

So you mentioned a lot of resources in terms like the scholarships to study abroad, is there any other resources that are available to a student that might be a French major or minor at CSUSB?

We don't have a French club. We have we have tried to do a French club in the past and we've had students interested but I think because of the commuter campus, people just kind of bug bug out, you know, at the end of the end of the day. However, I like to organize social events for our majors and minors and potential majors and minors I invite them to. So once once a once a year at the end of the academic year we do as field trip, we might we've taken them on a boat ride on Lake Arrowhead, I brought them up to the cliffhanger in Crestline last year and we went hiking around Lake Gregory sometimes we go to a French restaurant in in eastern la somewhere you know, which is which is not too far drive for people we do we do something like that also show a lot a lot of films. So if people like French films, they'll get plenty of that. And we also have a really wonderful multimedia language center that has a gazillion films and dizzy and video games and software and all kinds of language learning materials that that are, you know, available to students who just it's in the basement of the University Hall 007 University Hall. And they they it's a wonderful, wonderful group of people working there. So that's that's a that's a good resource. And we have tutors we have some of our French majors work as tutors in that multimedia language center for the folks who are enrolled in first year France, for example, first and second year French, you need a little extra help. So there are those resources.

Let's say a student wants some more information, or has a question, how would you direct that student? 

I would say that they should email me directly, they can also look at our website. So the website, you just Google World Languages CSUSB. And you'll you'll fall on our website and you can you can click on the undergraduate studies link and find French you'll see some nice little bios there of our outstanding graduates. That's that'll give you an idea of the type of people in the program, wonderful, you know, wonderful write ups, but also just email me directly. And we can set up an appointment either on Zoom or in person and look into your case specifically, and I'd be very, very happy to to help you figure out what the best direction would be for you personally. So my email is EA Martin. So E A M A R T I n@csusb.edu.

A lot of great information. Dr. Martin, thank you so much for being on the podcast today.

Oh, it's my pleasure. Thank you so much for inviting me

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