Language and Cultural Learning

Sweet Briar College – JYF in Paris has always placed great emphasis on students’ language and cultural learning during their stay in Paris. JYF is committed to helping students develop their linguistic and intercultural skills.  JYF assists students in getting the most out of their study abroad experience through facilitating immersion, creating opportunities and guiding students through thoughtful and meaningful reflections and discussions.

“I loved taking my classes all in French and I feel like
I learned a lot more about French culture in and out of class. “

—Katherine Santisi, Amherst College
Sweet Briar / Reid Hall Courtyard

Language competency

Students often cite language proficiency as one of their main goals for coming to Paris and for choosing the JYF program. Students are encouraged to speak French as often as possible especially at the JYF center or in the presence of French speaking people and to interact on a regular basis with their host family and seek out opportunities to encounter French speakers.

Upon arrival JYF students undergo a baseline language assessment and then the Test de connaissance du français (TCF) to gauge their French level at the close of their program. The results of such a test are useful for personal, academic, and professional reasons: to measure your own personal achievement, to demonstrate the French level required to attend a French university or to illustrate your language proficiency level to a potential employer after graduation.

Intercultural competency

Just as with language ability, research has shown that intercultural skills essential in today’s global society do not necessarily develop simply by virtue of living in another culture. JYF seeks to help students to deepen and maximize their cross-cultural experiences by gently pushing students out of their comfort zone. JYF identifies local groups and activities to facilitate engagement, encourages exploration of the local community and challenges students to discover a newly developed self-confidence. However, learning from their experiences also requires active reflection on students’ part. During their semester in Paris, JYF’s reflective assignment encourages students to reflect on a facet of their experience and express themselves in French. The resulting students’ reflections are posted on Le Blog through the semester.

“After 10 months in France …, I can say with confidence that I learned a new language.
I can write, read, and have an intelligent discussion with someone. Learning a language is a priceless skill.”
Esteban Bachelet (Kenyon College)