1. Reflect on your language learning and acculturation during your SLA Grant experience.
What insights did you gain into the language acquisition process? How did you engage and understand cultural differences. Did you meet your goals for language learning that you articulated on the blog before you started your program? Why or why not?
The language acquisition experience I have gained from this past summer is indeed quite different from my coursework at Notre Dame. Studying French where it is spoken made my learning more continuous through the entire six-week period, for there existed a much less obvious division between in-class and after-class time. More importantly, however, I have benefited from the advanced B2-level course for various linguistic nuances that I could not have picked up before this program. To make it short, therefore, the one-piece language acquisition takeaway from this summer experience is to be immersed into the language as often and continuous as I can.
Six weeks in Paris may still seem too brief for me to truly gain a deep understanding of cultural differences. However, the seemingly trivial details in everyday life such as late dinner time and Sunday store closures also reflect interesting French culture. Yet I have benefited most in cultural awareness by living with my host family, who not only provided me with delicious home dishes but also engaged me in interesting cross-cultural dialogues.
Looking back on the learning goals that I have set up before departure, I believe I have made progress in all of them. While it is hard to determine if I have truly “accomplished” these goals, especially without a systematic evaluation, I have during my stay corresponding experiences that give me confidence to assume my progress for all the four goals listed in my first post.
2. Reflect on your SLA Grant experience overall.
What insights have you brought back as a result of this experience? How has your summer language study abroad changed you and/or your worldview? What advice would you give to someone who was considering applying for an SLA Grant or preparing to start their own summer language study?
Before all I consider the diversity of Francophiles that I have observed as the most impressive and important insight I gained from this experience. As I have already mentioned in my previous blog entries, my class at CCFS shows an extremely interesting mix of people. We have a senior lady, foreign embassy employees, undergraduate and graduate students, a guitarist, housewives, etc. Ridiculous as it may sound, I have never had a full awareness of the huge world of Francophiles before this summer by insulating myself with the undergraduate class setting at Notre Dame.
Moreover, this perception of a fascinating diversity in people who continue their studies at various stages of life is more than encouraging. While cliché has it that studying is a lifelong thing, this SLA experience is indeed what allow me to put a human face onto these words; and thus I obtain a renewed confidence and passion to continue learning and thinking beyond my undergraduate years and even beyond my formal academic life.
As for advices for future SLA applicants or who are simply planning a summer language study, the most important thing I would say is “Do not hesitate to go abroad!” There are numerous ways that one can spend a summer, but language learning in a foreign country would be no doubt among the most rewarding ones.
Where do you go from here? How will you maintain, grow and/or apply what you have learned? How might you use your SLA Grant experience during the rest of your academic career and post-graduation. How will your SLA Grant experience inform you as you move forward academically, personally and professionally?
In the nearest future, I hope to continue my pursuit of proficiency in both written and spoken French. Hence this semester I am taking a French writing course to compensate for the relatively less training on this side during the summer. I also plan to have at least one French course for each of the semester remaining till graduation.
This improvement in French is crucial also for my academic pursuit, most visibly in that I hope to conduct research on the period around the French Revolution, a project which will very likely evolve into a senior thesis. Being able to access original versions of primary and secondary sources would thus be invaluable for me.
Apart from the more pragmatic plan for improving my French, however, I think this experience indeed builds up my confidence both in speaking the language and exploring in-depth a foreign culture. As an international student, I have had similar experience when coming to Notre Dame for the first time; however, this summer I had a more conscious observation of myself going into a new cultural environment. Thus I would hesitate even less in the future why my studies or work would require me to move into a whole new environment. In addition, I have always aspired to work for international organizations such as the United Nations, where the knowledge of French and English would both be crucial to expand my professional boundaries.