Bonjour tout le monde! My name is Van Reynolds, and I graduated in December 2019 from San Diego State University, where I studied International Business with an Emphasis in French and Western Europe. Thanks in part to the Gilman Scholarship Program, I was able to complete a yearlong (2018-2019) study abroad program in Cergy-Pontoise, France at the ESSEC Business School (l’École Supérieure des Sciences Économiques et Commerciales). Since graduation I have been studying for the LSAT and GMAT graduate school entrance exams; working on starting an online personal and home care goods business; developing a food sharing app, and I am serving as one of the Gilman Scholar Alumni Ambassador Digital Representatives for the 2020-2021 academic year.
Did you learn a foreign language while abroad or improve skills in a foreign language that you already knew?
Growing up Franco-American, my grandmother taught me a handful of French words, greetings, and expressions. I later took 4 years of French in high school and wouldn’t return to studying, or speaking, the language for over a decade. When I returned to school in 2014 I knew I wanted to study business mostly for the versatility such a degree would afford me. After all, you can do just about anything with a business degree right? However, as one of the most common Bachelor’s degrees, I also needed to stand out, which brought me back to the French language and is ultimately why I chose the focus and emphasis that I did.
All things considered, studying in France was indispensable for my language acquisition. While I continued to take courses taught in French to solidify my understanding of the formal language, it was essential to continue developing my conversational, or informal, French, which I experienced in my daily interactions outside of the classroom. In summation, formal French instruction combined with daily informal conversations is key to language acquisition!
How have you maintained your language skills since returning from abroad?
Since returning to the U.S. I have maintained my language skills through French podcasts, music, books, articles, and movies, and via conversations with French-speaking friends. I believe a combination of listening to and speaking, thinking, and reading in the desired language is vital to maintain as well as continue to build new language skills. Additionally, on occasion, I review my grammar and vocabulary and practice drills online.
What advice do you have for Gilman Scholars who are returning to the U.S. and hoping to keep up their newly acquired language skills?
My advice for anyone trying to maintain and/or continue to build their language skills is to read articles and books; listen to music, podcasts, and news emissions. Perhaps watch some movies and shows; and perhaps most importantly, have conversations in the language which you are trying to learn!
Thanks for reading! Suivez-moi pour des conversations en Français!
Below are a list of French language resources:
- Dictionaries and grammar tools
- Choses à Savoir
- Français Authentique: Les podcasts Français Authentique sont disponibles ici mais aussi sur iTunes, Soundcloud, Spotify et toutes les applications de podcasts.
- France Culture
- French Language Exercises
- French news sources
- Books :
- Test yourself