Shiny new French courses in UBC’s Department of French, Hispanic & Italian Studies

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There will doubtless be more about this, including properly and officially, in the coming months. It is very exciting. I am, officially, excited. We—a group of colleagues—worked together over the last year or so to rethink, reform, redesign, reformulate, and generally renovate our whole sequence of French language courses; doing so rethinking language courses as an entire connected sequence, that in turn was related to other courses and with the potential for further networks across other scholarly areas. As a “learning ecosystem,” if you will.

I’m being careful not to say too much but I can say this, as it’s public. We now have a coherent set of courses that take students more smoothly (we hope: application in practice reality starts For Real next week) from one course to the next, all the way to the current Faculty of Arts language requirement, and beyond. Alignment with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages will help student (and knowledge) mobility; if you’ll forgive me using the terms of Erasmus, Socrates, and other European idealist programmes of free movement from their heyday back in the later 1980s and 1990s; alas that it now seemes a heyday, in comparison with current times and attitudes, and with these words’ being coopted, colonised, and corrupted by BusinessNewSpeak. My own great hope is that these courses will lead to more students taking French courses at a higher level as elective options, and to more students combining a French minor, or even a double major, with another degree. More French for more people. Sharing and spreading the joy.

Here’s what this set of renovated courses currently look like, with our lovely hand-crafted shiny descriptions for FREN 101, 102, 111, 112, 122, 123, 224, and 225. Our curriculum-changing work over the last year will affect thousands of students a year; in 101 and 102 alone, for example, we now have about 30 sections—there will be more next summer too—and we will have somewhere between 800 and 1000 students. This is a major change that we made by dint of human work, manpower, and man hours. It cost the university nothing extra. Much as I would love to do so, I will refrain from making any comparisons with other dramatically more expensive curriculum changes (well, that’s not hard, compared to $0 of extra funding) that we have seen over at least the several years that I’ve been at UBC. What made this happen? Collegiality. One colleague especially: Dr Stéphanie Palisse, who is brilliant, a superhero, and has magical powers.

(Allow me a moment. I loved this work. I loved our working together. I love these colleagues. You should too. Maybe one day you will have the chance to meet them, maybe take one of their courses or work with them; maybe you already do.)

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Here’s a sneak preview of the public view of one of the courses that I remade, one of the pair that I currently coordinate: FREN 101. (“Coin des profs” is just for instructors, sorry; and students will also have all of what’s on this UBC Blogs public site, and more—including their own work, work in progress, and ability to have freer discussions more privately—in their Canvas course site, access to which is restricted to students in that course.)

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A couple of excerpts (one of them from the Top Secret Password-Protected part of the site) showing some changes to Objectives And Expectations; more on them momentarily, with the revised 2018 incarnations of SYLLABUS (2): THE RULES and SYLLABUS (3): HELP …
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