Foreign Languages department hosts French Day for area high schoolers

March 23, 2009

About 150 Carroll County students and their teachers and chaperones recently visited campus to indulge in French culture, games and food as part of McDaniel’s French Day experience.

Martine Motard-Noar, professor of French in the Department of Foreign Languages, said she organized the event for the second year in a row with the goal of inspiring students to continue studying French – the second most-frequently taught language in the world.

In addition to the culturally oriented fun and games, McDaniel’s faculty oversees the administration of the annual French language competition, called “Le Grand Concours,” which is sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of French. The hour-long written exam includes grammatical concepts, reading comprehension, aural comprehension and cultural topics. It is graded by the national organization, and top scorers earn scholarships, books, CDs and medals.

As part of the day’s festivities, French Professor Jacqueline Couti showed them a dance called bèle, which originates from Martinique, an island in the eastern Caribbean Sea. They also heard from McDaniel students Brenden Aston and Mary Beth Bounds, who shared photos and insights from their study abroad experience at the University of Saint Louis in Brussels, Belgium, as well as Greg Dubicki about his semester at the University of Grenoble, France.

McDaniel alumnus Aaron Christman ‘05, who was a French major, talked about using his French-speaking skills while serving in the Peace Corps with his wife in Anosibe An’Ala, Madagascar, as environment volunteers from 2006 to 2008.

Kelly Zavandro, who teaches French at Winters Mill High School in Westminster, said the experience was an invaluable one for the 70 ninth- and 10th-graders she brought to campus.

“People think that Spanish is the only useful foreign language, and that’s just not true,” Zavandro said. “This is a good experience because it helps the students to see that French is all around.”