August 13, 2012
“Life is a foreign language, we all mispronounce it.”
Christopher Morley, Thunder on the Left
Eleven Drury students worked hard this summer learning about a foreign language and life as they spent part of their summer in France on a language study abroad trip. The students spent the bulk of their time at the Institut de Touraine in Tours, France. Their goal was total immersion in the French language. After the experience they can emphatically say: mission accomplished.
The program, led by Drury French Professor Dr. Catherine Blunk, was a beneficial and challenging experience for the students, many of whom were beginning French students. The study abroad opportunity could be utilized to fulfill a student’s foreign language requirement, a Breech School of Business study abroad requirement, or earn credit toward a minor or major in French. This was the first year that students were able to complete their entire foreign language requirement solely with a study abroad trip.
The full immersion process took many of the students out of their comfort zones. Classes at the Institut de Touraine, where the students studied, were taught solely in French. The students lived with host families, allowing them to experience language and culture from the locals. The change from a familiar and comfortable language to foreign language may have been overwhelming, but total immersion is an intense way to quickly adapt to the new language. This teaching structure encouraged the students to apply learned knowledge and to keep learning.
Students were able to journey throughout the country, visiting Paris, several castles, and students engaged in independent travel throughout Europe.
“The program was very rigorous, even from the first week,” explained Dr. Blunk. “But the language skills they gained at the end of the experience, as well as the French cultural exposure, were the most significant benefits of the trip. At the end of four weeks, I could see them thinking in French.”
The trip cost the students between five and six thousand dollars, but many students offset a large portion of that cost with CW Titus Foundation Scholarships for Language Study Abroad. Through an annual grant to Drury from the CW Titus Foundation, students are able to apply for those scholarships if their study abroad involves studying a foreign language.
Author Amber Perdue is a soon-to-be senior Public Relations and Advertising major at Drury University and a 2009 graduate of Kickapoo High School.