Second Language Training: A Time-old Experience and Effective Summer
Article by: 27472 OCdt (III) Eliza Bruce
For those who come to the college with a basic to no understanding of French, the summer going into third year is usually anticipated to be that of SLT; this involves either advancing through multiple modules of comprehension and grammar, or preparing for the tests that will hopefully result in the coveted “Bilingual” status that signals the end of second language training courses. Having been posted to RMCC for this summer, I can say that both my class and those of my colleagues were filled with intensive vocabulary memorization, grammar sessions, speaking drills, oral practice tests, written practice tests, media/audial exercises, and many other forms of French activities that greatly enhanced the learning experience by appealing to multiple forms of learning.
“…if you are bilingual, it enhances your career. If you are not able to get there, it holds you back.”…
14987 David J. LeClaire
I found that both and professors and the learning environment itself was entirely centered on giving students the best chance to achieve as much as possible, and for those testing for their B’s, that it was ensured they were as prepared as they could be to succeed. The stats speak for themselves: the educational system in place resulted in the best scores seen at the end of an SLT course at RMCC in recent memory! I credit my teacher entirely for bringing me up to a BBB by the end of the summer, which is admittedly why I think so highly of the effectiveness of the program. Those who reached a higher module and those who received a language profile (A, B, C, and/or E in one or all of the categories) were equally as proud of a summer well spent as they were of the hard work put into building a strong understanding of and functional skill level in French.
According to two ex-Cadets, the value Officer Cadets place on French now can definitely serve well in the future. David J. LeClaire (14987, Marine Engineer), now President of Oberon Capital Corporation, says, “if you are bilingual, it enhances your career. If you are not able to get there, it holds you back.” However, when he served, French was not the commodity it is now: “in Submarines where I served, French was never part of operational life.” Currently, a bilingual status is highly desired both for operational usage and further promotions in the military, and although mastering an entire language in four years is quite a feat, the end product is well worth the effort.
There are classic memories to be had during the summer, which allows for some extra free time and opportunities for adventures as a break from the mental gymnastics of linguistics, as Brian Mumford (15009) (no photo available), current Director of Emergency & Protective Services for the Canadian Nuclear Laboratories, who attended the college in 1982, fondly recalls train trips to Montréal, ‘aux Quebec avec Mumf,’ and LeClaire spoke of comical canoe trips. Plenty of French classes engaged in cultural experiences throughout this summer, and my class participated in student-run city tours, French service at a crêpe café, and an art gallery tour, to name some memorable examples. The entire department held an afternoon des activités nautiques, allowing both students and faculty to explore various experiences with the Yacht Club.
The evaluation process was somewhat different when LeClaire and Mumford attended the college in the ’80s, with testing components in “oral comprehension, written comprehension, conversational French and written French”, and “if you achieved a 3 3 2 2, you were considered bilingual and exempt from any language training”, whereas now the components are reading comprehension, grammar, and oral, with BBB being the acceptable bilingual profile.
Thanks to a successful summer that allowed me to attain my B’s, and thanks to the patience of my dedicated professor, I’m freshly motivated to start the second leg of my college career with hopefully more leadership opportunities.