Univer­sité Sainte-Anne

Ask­ing ques­tions was the key to Sofia Lowen­stein’s suc­cess in French Im­mer­sion

The Coast - Career Minded - - PAID CONTENT -

Sofia Lowen­stein had been in a French Im­mer­sion pro­gram since the sixth grade, but still she had a sus­pi­cion that she wasn’t good at French. That is, un­til she got into the Ex­plore pro­gram at Univer­sité Sainte-Anne. Lowen­stein re­al­ized that class sizes had been im­ped­ing her learn­ing. Many of her pre­vi­ous teach­ers had large class­rooms, and mul­ti­ple classes a day, pre­vent­ing one-on-one learn­ing time.

“This meant they didn’t have the time to sit down with me and an­swer my ques­tions, which ac­tu­ally caused me to stop ask­ing them for many years. By the time I had got­ten into the univer­sity’s French Im­mer­sion pro­gram, I had got­ten out of that habit,” says Lowen­stein.

But a fresh ed­u­ca­tional start is a great way to find new habits. At Sainte-Anne, Lowen­stein quickly learned that she wasn’t bad at French, she just had a very dif­fer­ent way of learn­ing. Her teacher in the Ex­plore pro­gram, Qian Qian, showed Lowen­stein that her learn­ing needs had to be nur­tured and cared for just the same.

“French is a com­plex lan­guage that changes from one coun­try to the next. So far, I’ve re­al­ized my ‘bad habits’ re­gard­ing my French are: wrong verb us­age, many tense mis­use prob­lems, as well as many gram­mar and syn­tax rules I need to learn. Hope­fully by the end of my stud­ies, I will be able to proudly call my­self a French speaker,” she says.

Lowen­stein is cur­rently en­rolled in both Im­mer­sion stud­ies and Agent de Bureau Gou­verne­men­tal pro­grams. Her classes in­clude: one French writ­ing course that fo­cuses on gram­mar, word choice and vo­cab­u­lary; an oral French course on pronunciation and col­lo­qui­alisms; and French geopol­i­tics that teaches stu­dents about dif­fer­ent re­gions and spe­cific French di­alects.

Lowen­stein worked hard in her pro­grams, as the stu­dents are fully im­mersed in the French lan­guage. English speak­ing, or even lis­ten­ing, is not al­lowed.

“Lan­guages are things you have to prac­tice con­stantly to be able to achieve any sig­nif­i­cant progress. I know it’s hard, and you won’t want to speak some­thing you don’t feel com­fort­able with all the time, but I hope that ev­ery­one who joins this pro­gram is ready to work hard and im­merse them­selves in the lan­guage no mat­ter the hard­ships. Prac­tice it!”

Lowen­stein doesn’t com­pare her­self to na­tive French speak­ers, as they’ve had prac­tice all their life. In­stead of com­par­ing, she sees the rich com­mu­nity sur­round­ing her at Sainte-Anne, and makes use of the re­sources of­fer­ened through her pro­gram. She asks for gram­mar help to fix her mis­takes, and she lis­tens to the lan­guage around her. She hopes to com­plete this pro­gram and pur­sue her stud­ies in the col­lege-level pro­gram Ad­min­is­tra­tion des Af­fairs in the Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion de­part­ment at Univer­sité Sainte-Anne’s Hal­i­fax cam­pus.

“Know­ing French is a very sought-af­ter skill here in Canada. Many em­ploy­ers will look at it as a qual­i­fi­ca­tion and know that com­mu­ni­ca­tion is im­por­tant no mat­ter what job you’re look­ing for. Once I reach proper flu­ency, I will have three lan­guages to use in the work en­vi­ron­ment to help me in my com­mu­nica­tive needs.”

“Know­ing French is a very sought-af­ter skill here in Canada. Many em­ploy­ers look at it as a qual­i­fi­ca­tion. —Sofia Lowen­stein

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