University to celebrate National French Week

Kelley Peters, Staff Writer

The University of North Alabama will celebrate National French Week from Nov. 3-9. 

National French Week was set up by the American Association of Teachers of French, which includes both high school and university French teachers. This is the AATF’s twenty-first annual celebration of National French Week. 

“They celebrate the French language and French cultures around the world,” said Dr. Stephanie Coker, French professor at UNA. “It’s not exclusive to France. It includes everywhere that French is spoken. It’s a way to promote language studies, specifically French studies, and to bring awareness and let other students know what we’re doing, and that French is an option at the university that they can pursue.”

The University started its French Club in 2016, and ever since then, the club has been participating in the celebration. This year will be UNA’s seventh annual observance of National French Week. 

UNA’s French Club members participate directly in the creation of each year’s events, with the club’s president and vice president being the key decision makers. This year’s vice president, Sarah Camp, is excited about the events’ potential for furthering community outreach.

“We want to try to reach as many people as possible,” said Camp. “We’re trying to get more people involved with the French language. They might find out that it’s a language they would like to study, or that they would like to learn more about France and other French-speaking countries.” 

An interest meeting for the summer 2023 Paris trip kicks off French week on Thursday, Nov. 3 at 6:00 p.m. in the Guillot University Center Loft, with another interest meeting taking place on the following Monday, Nov. 7 at 4:30 p.m. At this meeting, students can learn more about the opportunity to study abroad in Paris, France and experience French culture while earning credits toward their degrees. Because the meetings will contain the same information, students are not required to attend both. 

On Friday, Nov. 4, UNA’s Foreign Language Department welcomes French students from Florence High School. They will get an opportunity to sit in on college French classes, French 101 and 201, and see what it would be like to keep studying French after graduation. 

Also on Friday, at 1:00 p.m. on the Wesleyan Hall lawn, the French Club will be offering refreshments as part of their event, Croissants with the French Club. All students, regardless of if they are involved in French Club or French classes, are encouraged to stop by, get some free food and mingle with other students. 

Tuesday, Nov. 8 at 9:30 a.m. in Wesleyan room 312, there will be a showcase of OUI Speak!, a bilingual podcast. 

“This is the first semester, at least with my upper-level French classes, that we’ve had the chance to do one of the COIL classes, which stands for Collaborative Online International Learning,” said Coker. “Faculty can partner with a university abroad and teach a course or do a project within a course. This year, as part of my conversation class, which is French 350, we’ve partnered with Université de Lorraine. For their final project, they’re going to be recording a podcast episode to talk about life as a student and what that’s like in France versus the United States, specifically Alabama. That’s something new this year, and it’s something we’re really excited for.”

Wednesday, Nov. 9 at 3:00 p.m., the French Club’s weekly French Conversation Table wraps up the official dates for National French Week. This is a time for French students to interact with their peers, practice speaking French conversationally and get help from upper-level students. 

In the week following National French Week, on Tuesday, Nov. 15 at 5:00 p.m. in Wesleyan Auditorium 214, Pi Delta Phi, the National French Honor Society, will host an induction for its new members. 

Students interested in any of these events are encouraged to attend and reach out to Dr. Coker or any members of the French Club to learn more about the French language and French-speaking cultures.