Engineering with the Help of French
Major: Mechanical engineering with a French minor
Graduation Year: Fall 2019
What was your immersion experience?
I went to a French immersion school called L'Etoile du Nord in St. Paul from kindergarten through sixth grade. During seventh through tenth grade, I took one to two French classes during the year. After my tenth grade year, I started taking one class a semester here at the University of Minnesota.
What is something you found challenging about your immersion experience?
One of the great challenges was being surrounded by an English-speaking community. I went to school in a little bubble where everyone spoke French, but outside that bubble, it was all English. I found it hard to practice French outside of school, which made it especially difficult to learn non-school-related vocabulary. One way that I overcame this hurdle was by finding French-language content online.
How you do apply your immersion experience to your everyday activities and/or studies?
As I mentioned earlier, I read news in French on the internet. However, French has also been helpful in other areas beyond being able to communicate in another language. First, I believe that knowing a second language has made it easier for me to grasp new concepts because I’m already accustomed to something that’s foreign. French has helped my brain develop and made me a better learner, especially because I learned French at such a young age. Lastly, French has helped improve my English. In the United States, very little time is spent teaching students how to correctly write or speak our language. French opened my eyes to concepts such as grammar.
In what ways has your immersion experience prepared you for where you want to go and what you want to do next?
From an obvious standpoint, I want to use my French for communication once I become a practicing engineer. I’m sure I’m going to run into French speakers at some point, because in engineering, you often end up working in a company that has an international presence or interacts with international companies. It also ties into what I said about brain development because knowing another language helps you pick up new ideas faster and that’s what engineering is all about. You need to solve a problem you’ve often never encountered before and do so in a timely manner. My background in French helps me solve these new problems and tackle a wide variety of challenges.
This story was written by an undergraduate student account executive in CLAgency. Meet the team.