French Immersion: France in Evolution

Are you interested in all things French? Do you want to learn about the issues that France is facing today? Then the course “French Immersion: France in Evolution” is perfect for you! In this course, we will discuss a variety of current social, political, and cultural issues that arose in the wake of the last French presidential elections. You will have the opportunity to explore the recent changes in French political parties and economic policy, the country’s key role in the European Union, and its attempts to adapt to a variety of technological, educational, and linguistic challenges. We will also look at France’s continued importance as a leader in the production of art, cuisine, cinema, and literature. You will read a variety of recent articles and short fictional texts, and work with films, news videos, and songs. During this course, you will improve your linguistic proficiency through intensive interaction with your classmates both within and outside of the classroom. The course will also include several organized off-campus student outings, guest speakers, and many other French themed activities. Immerse yourself in the French language and culture through an intense but rewarding program!

The French immersion course is designed to help students who have completed the equivalent of at least one year of French (i.e. Frenlang 3 or Frenlang 2A at Stanford) to move forward toward greater linguistic and cultural competence.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Maria Comsa

Lecturer, Stanford Language Center

I was born and raised in Transylvania (Romania), where I grew up learning French. Before moving to the US, I lived and studied in France where I obtained a DEUG (Diplôme d’Études Universitaires Générales) in Lettres Modernes at Université Lyon2 Lumière. In the US, I continued my studies (BA and MA from San José State University) and earned my PhD in French Literature from Stanford University in 2014. My research focuses on 18th-century French theater, Casanova, second language acquisition, and digital humanities. I am currently working on a project on society theater in 18th-century France and on Casanova’s theatrical networks.

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Heather Howard

Lecturer, Stanford Language Center

Southern California born and raised, I first studied in France as an international relations student at Sciences Po in Grenoble. I grew up in Santa Barbara, California, raised by a francophile mother who passed on her love of the language and culture. After several years working for an international law firm and earning a paralegal degree, I left to pursue a degree in French Literature degree at UCLA, where I earned a doctorate in 18th-century literature. My thesis focused on the figure of the reader in Diderot's theoretical texts on art, literature and theater. After teaching at a variety of different institutions, including USC, Scripps Claremont and Allegheny College, I came to Stanford eleven years ago as a lecturer in French. I teach French language courses at all levels and am also an instructor for Stanford’s Continuing Studies program.  My early interests in literature, philosophy and politics are now combined with a passion for language teaching. My most current research and conference presentations have focused on these pedagogical challenges, especially on how to bring greater cultural context to the language classroom.

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