3 - The exception anglo-saxonne? Diversity and Viability of French Studies in the UK pp. 27-36By Adrian Armstrong
French Studies in and for the Twenty-first Century
Online ISBN: 9781846316692
Chapter DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5949/UPO9781846316692.005
In March 2009, the Ministère des affaires étrangères et européennes held an international seminar in Sèvres, in collaboration with the Centre International d'Études Pédagogiques. It emerged clearly from discussions at the seminar that French provision in UK universities contrasts with that in most other EU countries in three important respects. First, UK French departments are relatively unusual in delivering a curriculum that includes a high volume and a wide variety of ‘content courses’, as practitioners often term them, alongside core language provision. Second, innovation in the delivery of that curriculum appears to be more widespread in UK universities. Increasing use is made of virtual learning environments; assessment often includes presentations and project work, as well as traditional examinations and coursework exercises; there is a high level of explicit engagement with the ‘transferable skills agenda’, which has come to occupy a central position in reflection on undergraduate teaching since the 1990s. Finally, career prospects tend to be much wider for UK graduates in French than for most of their European counterparts, for reasons that have become familiar to many language teachers in higher education. In the context of a relatively flexible graduate-level job market, where many opportunities do not require a degree in a specific subject, modern language graduates are attractive to employers: they have not only highly developed communication skills, but an autonomy and an understanding of cultural diversity that have been particularly fostered through a period of residence abroad.
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