French conversation group open to anyone who can say “Bonjour”

Anna Culver, Staff Writer

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Every Wednesday, in Breiseth 107 from 4:15 to 5:00 p.m., the event “Pardon Our French” is held for Wilkes students, faculty, staff and friends to practice their French skills.

Amy Kuiken, an adjunct faculty member in Wilkes University’s division of global cultures is the French professor and an ESL instructor for the IFARHU program.

She developed and runs this interactive language program, “Pardon Our French” and started it in 2016 as a way for her French students to have the chance to get extra time to practice French with one another.

Kuiken also wanted to give other students who are not in the class, but are interested in speaking, the chance to learn more about the French language in the process.

When asked what inspired her to start the program, she said:

“For me, I think it was to keep life interesting…I, myself, was born in America and was raised speaking English, but when I learned French, it opened the world up to me. I moved from the Boston area to northeastern Pa. and I wasn’t sure what that meant for speaking French. So,  I decided to do this group and see who would come and I was surprised by how many people came.”

The event is open to everyone. Students, professors, and community members are welcome to attend to learn more. It does not matter what amount of French that you know, as long as you can say “bonjour,” and are willing to learn.

Even students with different language backgrounds are welcome to come to learn.If one is monolingual knowing just English or bilingual, this is an environment that is geared toward exposing people to the French language.

Kuiken mentioned that one benefit of this group is that you can make mistakes and have the opportunity to see how you can communicate effectively with people at many different levels.

“It is easier to grow when there is no final exam at the end,” said Kuiken.

Depending on the semester, Kuiken observed that turn out has been varying. It has about four to five people who come consistently, but there is always room to more.

“I had a really good time and I think going to do it again,” said Donald Ballou, first year international studies major, who was attenging the event for the first time. Even if all you want to do is see if you can just follow along, this even can present the environment to do so.

“It was my first time, but it was a really good experience and makes me want to speak French again,” said Allyssa Olear, a first year political science and international studies dual major.

Kuiken also mentioned that she presents a topic at the beginning of each session allowing everyone to then chime in as they are able to.

The topics range from anything from Pepsi versus Coke or dogs versus cats. Her hope is that by presenting these topics, everyone gets the chance to use a little bit of language or a lot to make a comment depending on what they know. She wants people in her class to feel as though if they do not have the ability to speak fluent French, that they can still contribute to the conversation.

“I have devoted much of my life to expanding the size of my students’ world and my own world through language and to see that there are other people interested in that also really encourages me,” said Kuiken.

For any questions or if you are interested in learning French, contact Amy Kuiken at Amy.Kuiken@wilkes.edu.

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