French: Student Testimonials

Jenna Lam

French Specialist, Second teachable (5.0 credits, following major calendar) in Mathematics
Concurrent Teacher Education Program

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

I was enrolled in the Concurrent Teacher Education Program and wished to teach secondary level French and mathematics (or mathematics in French). In Ontario, a certain number of university credits must be completed in a specific subject area to make it a teacher candidate's "teachable" at the high school level.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

A specialist in French is like doing a triple-minors in literature (the art), linguistics (the science), and language practice (the application); with a smaller, blended minor in cultural studies/political science/history (based on the types of electives you choose to complete). In the French specialist at UTSC, students work towards a well-rounded education and training in overall French studies.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

Tips/advice for students considering a French specialist:
(1) Know that the groupings of mandatory literature, linguistics, language practice and electives all require their own different skill set of study/preparation
(2) Take advantage of the language monitor labs for your French courses.
 
Tips/advice for students considering mathematics:
(1) Take advantage of the Math & Stats Help Lab located at AC 312.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation?

I am currently completing my teaching degree, and will hopefully apply to school boards soon as well.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
First - transitioning in terms of study skills, scheduling, and work balance. Second - focusing on learning new content in my program. Third - picking up a Work-Study position, joining student departmental associations and clubs, being a First-Year mentor. Fourth - volunteering alongside school.

LJ

French Specialist
English Minor
Concurrent Teacher Education Program

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

I choose this program because it would allow me to have a real-life teaching experiences starting from First Year, whereas, many other comparable programs wouldn't allow teaching candidates to start untill closer to Third Year. My reason for choosing to a French Specialist was that I felt that it would provide me with the most thorough knowledge of the French language, and prepare me to be a valuable resource for my future students.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

The French Program at UTSC is wonderful; we have small class sizes, and professors who make the effort to make connections with us. I especially enjoy being part of the small community of tight-knit French students on campus; you're always among friends.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

Two major tips for any students starting/considering this program would be: 1) Take advantage of the resources available to you: Language Lab Monitors, Professors, Study Sessions, FSGs 2) Broaden your horizons: Don't just let the learning happen in class, try 'Study Abroad' or 'Explore' to enrich your language learning; as well as, getting involved on campus through the French DSA.

What will you do with your degree after graduation?

I am planning to pursue a career in teaching; hopefully as a French teacher in Toronto.
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
I found first and second year to be especially difficult as I had a hard time transitioning into the level of expectation at university for academics. But once I got a hang of it, I found my third and fourth year to be significantly easier. A key element of my success at UTSC has been my involvement in extracurricular activities. By being involved in a DSA, I was able to build relationships and find mentors who guided me and supported me through tough times and inspired me to work smarter.

Irene Delicano

Majors: Linguistics Co-op and French
 

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?

I first heard the word ‘Linguistics’ from my mom when I was still in elementary school. As a current Linguistics student at university, looking back I’m not quite sure if she knew exactly what Linguistics was, but she sensed very early on that I would be interested in languages and the word ‘Linguistics’ seemed to have something to do with that field. Academically speaking, my strengths have always leaned more towards English and French, and I just loved learning about different languages in general. So when it came time to choose courses for first year university, the Introduction to Linguistics course was definitely one of my first picks. Since Linguistics is not a subject that’s directly studied in high school, unlike biology or chemistry, I didn’t know what to expect from my Linguistics classes. But after the first few classes, I was hooked. It completely fascinated me. I’d always thought of languages as strictly an arts and humanities thing, but here I was learning about the anatomy of the vocal apparatus, how sounds are formed, basic theoretical processes of speech production, and how words are represented in our minds. The first year course definitely cemented my interest and provided me with a new definition of Linguistics as an interdisciplinary study of the science of languages. In addition, I chose the Co-op option for Linguistics in order to become exposed to the “real-world” work that would allow me to access potential opportunities that are open to Linguistics degree-holders. And as someone who has studied (and enjoyed) French through all four years of high school, continuing my studies through a French major seemed like a no-brainer!

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

The Linguistics program at UTSC is quite small and fairly tight-knit. That means it is really easy to get to know your other classmates and professors, who are always willing to help you out with assignments or even give you advice on future career options in the field. As I mentioned earlier, the interdisciplinary nature of Linguistics allows you to develop a comprehensive skill set, such as analytical thinking skills when analyzing speech data and patterns, written communication skills, and interpersonal skills, especially when dealing with experiments that require collecting data from research participants. Unlike other humanities fields, there isn’t a huge emphasis on essay writing; rather, the focus is on the application of the concepts and theories you learn. In addition to Linguistics, you can also focus more specifically on a subfield called Psycholinguistics, which studies how language and psychology are intertwined in areas such as language acquisition. At UTSC, you are also able to choose the Linguistics/Psycholinguistics Co-op option. In general, the Co-op option is great because you learn some really applicable tips on how to write resumes and cover letters, how to interview well, networking skills, etc. Although searching for a Linguistics-specific job is a bit challenging, you’d be surprised by how many different kinds of positions and workplaces require the abilities and skills that Linguistics students acquire through their studies!

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?

1. Be open-minded. The thing about Linguistics is that it is just an umbrella term for a whole bunch of diverse subfields, such as Phonetics, Phonology, Morphology, Syntax, Semantics, Language Acquisition, Psycholinguistics, Computational linguistics, Sociolinguistics, Historical linguistics, and more. Find out what really interests you and what you want to focus on through attending conferences and networking events and doing research (either your own or with a professor). At UTSC, the Work-Study program often has Research Assistant positions available to students and this is a really great stepping stone to getting experience within the program. Just explore as much as you can because Linguistics is such a burgeoning field and there is still so much unexplored territory.
2. Get to know your professors and TAs. The Linguistics faculty and TAs are an invaluable resource when it comes to homework/project help or even for just discussing your path within the degree. Since it is a small program with a comparatively smaller number of students than life science courses, Linguistics students have a really great opportunity to make themselves stand out to their professors. In many cases, when professors are looking for research assistants, they reach out to students they know first, before making positions available to the wider Linguistics student body. Plus, getting to know your professor’s or TA’s academic journey also allows you to decide where you want to go with your degree, especially if they’re doing research or work that interests you. You get to ask them questions and really get some insights into their own experiences.
3. Get a really solid foundation during the first two years of your degree. Just like other programs, the first two years of the degree are often dedicated to the core foundation courses. It is highly important to get a solid grasp of the material in these core courses, because every course afterwards relies on the assumption that you are already up to speed with what has been taught. Everything accumulates and it is wise to review notes that you made in these courses (on that note: don’t throw away your first and second year course notes; you never know when they might come in handy again!). For example, in first year and second year Linguistics, you learn about the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA). Pretty much everything in Linguistics depends on your knowledge of this system and you always refer back to it, no matter what sub-discipline you eventually end up in.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation?
 
Linguistics ties into so many other programs - languages, psychology, biology, neuroscience, and even statistics and computer science. Since it can be paired up with such a variety of different programs, Linguistics has a way of finding applications in many facets of society, such as education, law, the sciences and medicine, computer technologies, etc. A popular option for many Linguistics/Psycholinguistics graduates is the Master of Health Science program that afterwards, allows you to become eligible to be certified as a Speech-Language Pathologist. In addition, many Linguistics students are also well-suited to become psychologists, counsellors, and social workers, especially when it comes to working with children with speech disorders. Since I am doing a double major in Linguistics and French, I do hope to utilize my French language knowledge to go into translation and/or interpretation, as well as possibly education as a French-as-a-Second-Language (FSL) teacher.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
During my first year, I took Introduction to Linguistics at the St. George Campus in downtown Toronto, which focused on broadly introducing students to the core concepts of Linguistics as well as some of the sub-disciplines such as phonetics, syntax, morphology, and psycholinguistics. During my second year, I had transferred to the Scarborough campus because it is the only University of Toronto campus that offers Co-op as a program option, and that appealed to me. During this year, some of the core concepts learned in the introductory Linguistics course were studied more in-depth, such as learning about sounds that exist in various languages, not just English or French. I also began my Navigating the World of Work Co-op classes that would prepare me for creating job applications and the job-hunting process. In third year, I embarked upon my first Co-op Work term. Upon returning in the Winter semester, I continued to complete requirements for both my Linguistics and French majors. During this year, Linguistics courses became more specific in terms of their focus within a particular sub-discipline or enhancing analytical skills beneficial to Linguistics research, such as: Quantitative methods in Linguistics, Speech Perception, and Sociolinguistics. Fourth year will be dedicated to finishing up my degree requirements and doing research on masters or graduate programs, diplomas, or certifications. Although it is very important to be academically successful in fourth year, I think it is also worthwhile to begin or continue volunteering or working at places that provide you practical experience that goes along with your studies. Getting out there and finding these placements also helps with widening your network with people who already have connections in the field.

Melody Fu

French Specialist
Minor: Psychology
Concurrent Teacher Education Program

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
I wanted to become a teacher, and CTEP offered me hands on experience. I also really enjoyed French and UTSC offered a French teaching program, so it was the perfect pair for me. I was also very interested in the opportunities to study abroad, such as the Explore French language bursary program and the Summer Abroad program.

Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?

The Specialist Program in French consisted of 12.0 full credits in French. I was able to choose between French literature, film, culture, linguistics and history courses. The program is not too big, so I was able to get to know my classmates and professors really well and developed a great relationship with them. I was required to complete 4.0 credits at C level and 1.0 credit at the D level, but there was a very good progression with the courses. The Minor in Psychology consisted of 4.0 credits, but it was not necessary to do any courses in the D level. I was also able to use many of my breadth requirements (courses like STAB22, PSYA01, PSYA02) in first year to complete a large majority of my minor by the end of first year. The CTEP program allowed me to progress into teachers college at OISE immediately after my 4th year. I also started a few of my Education courses during my undergrad.

What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)? (2-3 Tips)

Don't be afraid to try something new! - Take a course on something that interests you! Don't be afraid to ask for help! - Make sure you connect with a first year mentor and go to your professors' office hours. Get involved! - Join a club, participate in group fitness programs or an intramural athletics team at TPASC.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)

I plan to complete my B.Ed. and find a job abroad.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?

First year was very difficult. Coming out of high school and transitioning into university was not easy. The courses I had chosen to take were a lot more difficult than I had expected. Fortunately, I joined the First Year Experience Program with the Department of Student Life at UTSC and gained an upper year mentor. She was very helpful and gave me a lot of useful advice on how to choose my second year courses. I also took the time to talk with my Program Advisor to get her advice. She encouraged me to take courses that I enjoyed rather than take ones that I did not enjoy, but was encouraged by my family or other people. I really learned then to follow my own heart and choose courses that I enjoyed. The end of first year was when I decided to pursue a minor in Psychology along with my Specialist in French. Second, third and fourth year became much better. I was much less stressed and began to enjoy the courses I had chosen. I met new people and developed friendships that will last me a lifetime. I joined an intramural sports team each semester. Being a part of the flag football and field hockey team helped me develop my leadership, teamwork and cooperation skills. Thanks to my positive experience with the First Year Experience program, I became a mentor the rest of my 3 years a UTSC. I was able to give advice to other first year students and share with them my experience. It was a great way to get involved on campus and get to meet new students. I even presented at the annual French Conference organised by the Centre of French and Linguistics. By the end of fourth year, I felt prepared to graduate. I was ready to further my learning at teachers college. I was very grateful for the support I had received from my professors and mentors at UTSC.

Aisha Ahmad

Majors: Molecular Biology, Immunology and Disease & French

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
I started my First Year as a French Specialist but felt a little adrift studying only in the Arts. There seemed that there was a part of myself that I was neglecting. So, in the second semester of my First Year, I had started to search through other Major options in the UTSC database that were in line with my preferences. I came across the Immunology and Disease Major option in one of my searches and did a thorough overview of the course requirements. I found them intriguing and so, from then on, I started to find methods to tweak my schedule in a way that enabled me to pursue both my Biology and French Requirements in parallel measures for my degree.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Studying in Arts and Science side by side is no easy task. I will say that any degree requires that you put sincere effort and hard work into whatever it is you pursue. However, I feel that studying French and Biology en par with one another has been a most interesting challenge. Many a time, I have found myself stumbling in the process to balance the two course loads of very distinctive natures. Biology awakes the curiosity in me and prompts me to realize the mechanics of the world as far as our Modern Research has allowed us to know while French permits me to understand a language and a culture that I was unaware of before my academic pursuits here at UTSC. In terms of my French Major--- I have pursued Grammar, Literature, Cultural and Phonetic courses that have given me an ability to communicate in the language to a rather agreeable degree as well as an understanding of the workings of France and Quebec in terms of their culture and history in such a manner that has increased my understanding of some of the inner workings of the French World. In terms of my Immunology Major---I have had the chance to get a glimpse into understandings of Ecological, Evolutionary, Cellular, and Molecular components of Biology that, on my own, I would have never been able to draw connections between. Pursuing this degree has really helped me explore the varying aspects of Biology and thoroughly understand that they are all interminably interconnected.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
 
1) Explore your options in First Year, no matter what degree you enter University with the intention of pursuing----Branch out and see what complements your skills and talents. Figure out who you are as an Individual (it’s an ongoing process so, don't worry).
2) Hard Work, Effort and Perseverance always pay off. Don't ever abandon these three traits through your academic battles/pursuits because despite a few mishaps and hurdles, you'll always come through if you adhere to these principles.
3) Ask for help when you need it. There are so many resources offered by the University and the varying Campus Groups on Campus that are instated for your benefit and to help you succeed. So, although somewhat frightening, take that step and ask for help because if you are struggling with a concept then, I assure you--others are as well and working in a group to help one another out is very conducive to learning.

What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
I plan to pursue Higher Studies to become a Teacher.

What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
In First Year, I took every breadth requirement I could possibly avail from. I pursued French, Psychology, Political Science, Women and Gender Studies, Statistics and Cultural Studies. I got involved with various Campus groups. In the Summer of my First Year, I started pursuing Biology in earnest In my Second Year, I had a hard time finding an equilibrium between the number of Biology and French Courses I needed to take and I struggled with understanding how to balance between extra-curricular and academic requirements. In my Third Year, I have reached an understanding of my capacities and limitations. I am pursuing 4 courses-----2 in French and 2 in Biology ---that have allowed me to actually come to enjoy my time in University and not Stress to unhealthy degrees while still being actively engaged with on-campus events and groups. I hope to continue on this trajectory that allows me to work at my own pace in a helpful manner for the rest of my time at UTSC.

Grayson Chong

Major: English
Minors: Creative Writing and French

What factors contributed to you choosing your program(s)?
 
I chose to pursue a major in English because I have loved literature since I can remember. I simply adore it more than anything else in the world. But more than reading literature and thinking about it, is when I am given the chance to write because it allows my creativity and imagination to run boundless. Therefore, pursing a Creative Writing minor seemed like a natural route. My minor in French allows me to be more well-rounded as a student and individual. As a dancer, I’ve always thought of language as another form of music and rhythm. Deciding to complete a degree with a major and two minors allows you to expand and explore all the subjects and areas of study that intrigue you.
 
Can you describe your program(s)? What is it actually like?
 
Being a part of the English program has equipped me the ability to think critically and reflect on the wider implications of texts by connecting these narratives to real-life situations in our everyday world. The English department offers an expansive range of courses that focus on different time periods, from the early modern period to Postmodernism and everything in between. Much of the program involves analyzing text and thinking about how certain issues are still present in our world. The department offers both English literature as well as contemporary literature from the Caribbean and South Asia, which I personally think is wonderful. Creative Writing courses are also offered. If you decide to simply go into an English program, the Creative Writing courses will count towards your program as well. The courses offered by the department encourage both critical thinking with analysis of English texts and creative thinking with Creative Writing courses. Creative Writing minor classes are significantly smaller from the start. You need to submit a portfolio before you are officially enrolled in the course. These are extremely collaborative and many of them (if not all) involve critiques, where you submit a piece of writing to the class so that they can talk about it the following week. These workshops are there to help improve your writing, so don’t be afraid of them. The French department offers a wide range of courses from French grammar to French literature. These aid the expansion of the acquisition of the language and inform students about French culture and society as well.
 
What tips/advice can you provide to students just starting or considering this program(s)?
                              
1) Go to your professor and TA’s office hours. Those are invaluable opportunities for you to ask questions whenever you need help with course material and assignments. It’s a good way to get to know them and for them to get to know you. Don’t be intimidated, they are there to help you.
 
2) Find what interests you and what you’re passionate about. As cliché as it sounds, the saying, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work another day in your life” is true. The things I was passionate about (literature and writing) propelled me to pursue what I’m pursuing. I’m more excited to start assignments earlier and do my best than if I was in a program I didn’t enjoy. The material seems more interesting and I feel like I am getting more out of my program because I’m immersed in something I love.
 
3) Learn time management skills. Life is busy with school, work, volunteering, and a social life. Assignments pile up quick. Make sure you give yourself enough time to plan so that you won’t feel overwhelmed when you need to finish the assignment the night before. Planning ahead will minimize potential stress. I find having an agenda/planner helpful so that I can plan what I need to do in advance. It also ensures that I won’t forget about any upcoming assignments.
 
What will you do with your degree after graduation? (Future plans?)
 
There are a few things I’m still deciding on before I graduate. No matter what happens, I want English literature to be the centre of my career. I can’t see myself in anything other than that. In simple terms, I hope my career will allow me to teach English and write on the side. Right now, the plan is to apply to OISE to pursue a Masters of Education. I have thought about pursing an MFA in Creative Writing, as well. We will see where the universe takes me.
 
What has your academic journey during your time been like as you progress toward graduation?
 
I’m only in second year at the moment, so I may be unable to elaborate as much as I’d like. When I was in first year, I was initially pursuing a double major in English and French so that I could declare those two subjects as my teachables (areas of specialty) when I apply to OISE in the future. First year courses focused on exposing student to various periods in literature from medieval literature to Romanticism. Texts included a wide range of narratives and poetry. French only required that I take grammar courses before I could take upper year courses. Those were good reviews of all the basic grammar skills you’ve been learning since you were in Grade 12. I switched my program from a double major to a major in English with a double minor in French and Creative Writing in second year (which is the year I am in now). I made this decision because I wanted to take full advantage of the Creative Writing minor that UTSC has to offer. In second year, students are encouraged to focus on literary periods in the English canon and genres in more detail. There is a wide range to choose from, such as Shakespeare, Classical Myth and Literature, and Life Writing among others. Lecture sizes become significantly smaller as you progress towards graduation. The same goes for French courses. After taking grammar courses in first year, students are expected to still take grammar. However, they are also able to take courses that focus on French literature, society, and culture. In general, the options regarding the different courses available to students grows, but become more specialized according to your interests.