Community-Based Applied and Pre-Professional French
Despite the increasing need for language and intercultural proficiencies, cutbacks in language programs are a national trend. Programs in smaller, less well-endowed institutions are particularly at risk, especially in the Midwest, where there tends to be less linguistic and ethnic diversity. More than ever before, language programs must demonstrate how they are not only relevant, but marketable.
Note: Adapted from original project proposal
This collaborative project between French faculty and programs at Coe and Cornell reflects the need for smaller language programs and institutions to work together in order to strengthen and market our educational experiences to prospective students and the public. It will enable our students to take advantage of community-based experiential learning opportunities and courses in French in the Linn-Johnson County corridor of Iowa, home to French companies as well as a growing population of francophone African immigrants.
Joint programming and a shared digital platform that bridges the distance between our institutions affords students enriched curricular offerings related to professional paths using French and it will make the work we do more visible to the outside public.
We need to be able to demonstrate viable vocational paths for all our students, especially outside the humanities. The best way to do address this challenge is to move our programs beyond the confines of our individual campuses and academic calendars and directly into the community, where students can apply and continue to develop their language skills in intercultural and immersive contexts.
This project would allow the Coe and Cornell faculty in French to build a digital foundation for a collaborative program in applied and pre-professional French, fostering student engagement in our local professional and immigrant francophone communities in Cedar Rapids, including courses, research projects, community-based and digital projects, and internships.
The French faculty at Cornell and Coe have a history of friendship and collaboration, most recently evidenced by their work on the FaCE grant on translation for global literacies across the curriculum. This current project would continue and deepen that collaboration through the sharing of curricular resources, a website and events related to practical and professional applications of French based upon community engagement.
A shared website focusing on our study of and work with the local francophone communities would offer a central point of contact and interaction that will help pave the way toward future collaborations. We are currently planning a joint Applied and Pre-professional French program unit (alongside a shared unit in translation studies) to give students the academic preparation they need in professional language standards and etiquette, accompanied by modules in medical French, translation and interpretation, education, media studies, and community and development work.
Coe College is currently completing an Internationalization Profile report recommending collaborative curricular development around global cultural studies, global perspectives in general education and departmental programs, and enhanced study abroad opportunities. Coe’s recently established Center for Creativity and Careers focuses on fostering greater connections between the campus and the Cedar Rapids community. Similar initiatives are underway at Cornell College, which was just awarded a $50,000 curricular-planning grant to revise the general education program. In 2016-17, the college consolidated its experiential learning programs in the Berry Career Institute where students learn to identify and pursue professional goals. Cornell’s faculty recently approved a set of educational priorities embedded in curricular, co-curricular and collaborative contexts.
Our collaborative project is clearly aligned with the strategic directions and innovations at both institutions and would directly benefit students.
Creation of a website titled “Locally francophone”
For our students and programs with shared resources and a platform for the public presentation of student work.
Development of a course, “Applied and Pre-professional French”
This course could be adapted to a variety of learning formats including semester or block-length calendar courses, independent study projects or internship support.
Course Description: This course helps to create a bridge between students’ time at Coe/Cornell and their time after Coe/Cornell. They will explore the linguistic and cultural contexts of working in France and the francophone world, then examine a variety of professional paths through a series experiential exercises. These exercises are supplemented by videos of and Skype interviews with native speakers in banking, business and marketing, translation, education, media studies, and international development, and a visit to the University of Wisconsin-Madison which is home of the Professional French Masters Program. Throughout the course of the term, students construct and complete their own project, research career paths and opportunities, and create a CV and dossier that could be part of an application. The course culminates with staged interviews for a position they would be interested in seeking in the future.
Partnering with local organizations to introduce students to/engage students in applied and pre-professional uses of French in the Cedar Rapids community.
Service-Learning & Internships
Creation of language-based volunteer, service-learning, and internship opportunities for students available independently or as part of the course.
Initial planning meeting with our Instructional Technologists and Directors of Community Engagement partners to decide upon the most appropriate digital format and how best to integrate digital and community-based learning experiences.
French faculty plans structure and collects materials for the shared Applied and Pre-Professional French course, builds site, and connects with potential local community partners. Coe student completes a pilot program in French with community partners and shares results with faculty.
Consulting meeting with Ritt Dietz, director of the Professional French Master’s Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison to learn more about how this successful, one-of-a-kind program is structured, how it is administered, and how we might adapt elements of its model to our own initiative.
October 2017-April 2018
Faculty continue to develop course and site, attend training sessions offered by the French Embassy on teaching business, and if available, medical French. Faculty visit to consult with other programs that offer courses and experiences we are working to develop.
Course and community projects offered at Coe and Cornell.
Assessment and evaluation of course and community-based projects. Revisions and adjustments made as necessary. Completion of grant report. Course made available as independent studies or projects.
Upon completion, the project team will:
- Share our website, resources and experiences with other language programs on Cornell’s and Coe’s campuses with an invitation to collaborate or emulate
- Identify appropriate academic journals such as those published by the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) or The Language Educator for publication of an article sharing the results of our innovative curricular model and cross-institutional collaboration.
- Present the results of our collaboration at AATF and ACTFL conferences.
- Collaborate with campus career centers to organize public presentations on career paths using languages at our institutions.
- Offer an interactive webinar to languages faculty in the ACM sharing its experiences of implementing a model of shared curricular and co-curricular programming to enhance experiential learning and pre-professional preparation in foreign languages.
- Lay the foundation for a follow-up project: an online magazine, to be maintained by students, that showcases their experiences and work. It will also serve as a medium for peer-to-peer dissemination of information and experiences, within Coe and Cornell Colleges and across the ACM.
Outcomes and Significance
- Shared digital home, curricula, and resources
- Collaborative community partnerships to facilitate student opportunities
- Student research projects and community-based project reports published on the shared site
- Conference presentation at ACTFL and/or AATF and article for publication
- Digital sharing of project and outcomes available to faculty in ACM
- Collaborative partnership and digital home with shared goals, resources, and methods
- Professional development to be able to meet students’ needs in diverse fields
- More innovative and interactive curriculum
- Basis for further development and collaboration
- The development of language and intercultural skills to function in professional contexts in French
- Better understanding of the academic and professional cultures of France and developed parts of the francophone world
- Immersive learning experiences with native speakers
- Opportunities to meet online with professionals in a variety of contexts
- Confidence in their abilities to communicate more effectively in real world situations
- Greater ability in navigating social and bureaucratic systems with language uses that differ from what they are accustomed to in courses and on campus
- Research projects in areas of students’ professional interests, the production of an appropriate CV and dossier, and a practice interview for a position of their choice
- The development of transferable job skills that apply to their majors and planned career goals
- The ability to articulate the relevance of their language and cultural proficiency to prospective employers in the U.S.