Living/Learning Center Programs

The University of Vermont

http://www.uvm.edu/llcenter/

 

 

La Maison Française

 

Program Overview

 

Students who are studying French language, literature and culture in an American setting need opportunities to speak the language outside the classroom, to develop the use of the language in their everyday lives, and to enrich their understanding of the contexts of Francophone culture. 

 

The Living/Learning Center offers students a community based on their interests in Francophone language and culture, in which they make French the language of their everyday activities.  A student resident organizer will lead the group.  Residents of the French house will agree to use French exclusively for a specified portion of the day.  The French house will also be the center for many activities based on Francophone culture which are available in or close to Burlington; films, lectures, contacts with French speakers throughout the University and city community, visits from experts on the Francophone developing world, visits to Quebec, theater, music, museums, television programs and reportage.  Participants in the French house will improve their fluency and gain a greater familiarity with issues in contemporary Francophone experience.

 

Students will have the option of signing up for one unit of credit per semester, with a grade of Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory.  To earn this credit, students will be expected to participate in at least one specific activity per week, such as:

 

  • Having dinner with a member of the French faculty with a focused discussion on a particular Francophone subject.
  • Inviting a member of the Burlington Francophone community to have dinner and talk.
  • Attending the Pause-Café in downtown Burlington.
  • Viewing and discussing a French film.
  • Reading and discussing a work of Francophone literature.
  • Researching on the Web a subject of present concern as expressed in the French media.

 

Students are expected to design their own program of activities in consultation with the faculty advisor.  They will also keep individual journals of their activities, which will be part of the evaluation of their work for the unit of credit.


 

 

Program Co-Directors:

 

 

Joseph Acquisto, Department of Romance Languages, 656-3575; Joseph.Acquisto@uvm.edu

Janet Whatley, Department of Romance Languages;  656-1371; Janet.Whatley@uvm.edu

 

Description of Student Needs

 

Students who are studying French language, literature and culture in an American setting need opportunities to speak the language outside the classroom, to develop the use of the language in their everyday lives, and to enrich their understanding of the contexts of Francophone culture.  The course work of the department provides an excellent intellectual structure and a certain amount of practice, but budgetary constraints have dictated class sizes of 15-25 students, even at the highest levels.  In classes this large, the amount of active oral participation of each student is limited, and in any case the classes meet only three times a week.  Students are often searching for ways of getting together to pool their energies to develop not only their spoken French but also their knowledge and contact with the Francophone world.

 

The Living-Learning Center can make it possible for these students to form a community based on their interests in Francophone language and culture, and to make French the language of their everyday activities.  There needs to be a student resident organizer who will lead the group in establishing ground rules whereby French will be the languages of communication for a considerable and specified proportion of the day.  The French house will also be the foyer for many activities based on Francophone culture which are available in or close to Burlington: films, lectures, contacts with French speakers throughout the university and city community, visits from experts on the Francophone developing world, visits to Quebec, theatre, music, museums, television programs and reportage.

 

We expect that participants in the French house will bring back to their academic course work an increased fluency and ease in the spoken word which is almost invariably reflected in improved writing; a greater familiarity with issues in contemporary Francophone experience; an increased capacity to take initiatives in organizing for themselves activities that will further develop their interest and knowledge of Francophone culture.  The interaction between the classroom and the French house should contribute to the vitality and to the multiplication of resources of each.


 

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVE I:  To help students improve their fluency in French.

 

Action Steps

 

1.         Establish French as the language of communication for a definite period of time or set of circumstances (for instance, all communal meals, all meetings and public discussions, and informal interactions in public areas).

 

2.         Make available audio tapes, video tapes, TV programming from SCOLA, the French CBC channel, magazines, and dictionaries.

 

3.         Establish contact and organize meetings with Francophone speakers from the university and the community (see below).

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVE II:  To make accessible the Francophone intellectual and artistic resources of our region.

 

Action Steps

 

1.         Films:  There is a wealth of great French film available on videocassette. Possible topics for film series include:  World Wars I and II, the end of the French colonial empire, the art of the theater, perspectives on feminism, etc.

 

2.         Art exhibits:  The Fleming Museum frequently has exhibits or lectures involving art of the Francophone world.

 

3.         Lectures: (a) From French-speaking UVM faculty:  the French House students would interview Francophone faculty to discover their common areas of interest, including subjects related to Canada, Africa, the Caribbean, etc. (b) Other speakers from the region (possibly including Montreal) whose specialties in literature, the arts, the social sciences or natural sciences interest the students.

 

4.         Visits to Montreal:  to explore the architectural heritage of the city, to attend concerts, book exhibits, museums, theater, ballet, etc.

 

5.         Video and Television resources such as French CBC and SCOLA.


 

 

LEARNING OBJECTIVE III:  To foster relations with the Francophone community in the University, the city of Burlington, and the region.

 

Action Steps

 

1.         Contact local Francophone organizations for exchange of hospitality: for instance, the Pause-Café in downtown Burlington.

 

2.         Invite undergraduate and graduate students who are native French speakers from other disciplines.

 

COMMUNITY SERVICE

 

The French House will serve as a center of hospitality for Francophone people in the University and in the Burlington area.  There are many people on campus from Francophone countries (Ivory Coast, Zaire, Senegal, Haiti, France, Belgium, and Switzerland) who welcome the opportunity to meet other Francophones to speak their native languages.  There are a number of people in the Burlington community of Franco-American background who want to preserve their family traditions of  French language.  The French House can therefore serve as a liaison between the University community and the Burlington area.

 

 

Time Commitment

 

The commitment can be quite flexible, but if the program is to flourish, students must be prepared to plan activities, publicize them, and support them with their presence.

 

 

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