Europe 1, United States 0
Though there are some things that the U.S. does better than Europe (like drying laundry, hot showers, and taking home restaurant leftovers), the language evaluation system here is much more comprehensive. Because I have only been taking classes here for a week, I cannot yet speak to the system of language learning, but the categorization of an individual’s general knowledge of a language is clear and understood for all Europeans, something that the U.S. should take note of.
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) includes levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2, from least knowledgeable to most knowledgeable. Using this universal system takes out the ambiguity of claiming to have “proficient” knowledge of a language, or validate/invalidate those who claim to speak fluently. Because Europeans understand what these levels signify, they can get a more accurate reading on one’s knowledge of a language.
My eight years of French language study has placed me in B2. By the end of this semester, I should have certifiably completed this level. In niveau B2, I:
- can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization
- can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party
- can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options
Though I am almost confident in my abilities for these categories, finishing B2 will increase my overall performance and assurance in my French language knowledge.
I study at the Université Nice Sophia Antipolis on the Faculté des Lettres, Arts, et Sciences Humaines Carlone campus. Within this university, I am a student of the C.U.E.F.L.E., or the Centre Universitaire d’Études en Français Langue Étrangère. In this program, I take courses with many different types of people from all around the world. At 21 years old, I am one of the youngest in my classes. Most of them live in Nice long-term, as spouses of those who have moved to Nice for work, or are here to work themselves. Many students come from China and Russia, but I have peers from Morocco, India, Brazil, and more. They usually complete multiple levels of the CEFR here, as you need a level B1 understanding of French to be eligible for French naturalization. The other students were surprised to learn that the American students are only here for 4 months, hoping to complete our level on the first try. It is only school for us, but for many of them, it is life.
My B2 classes include eight hours of language learning, five hours of literature, two hours of electives, and one hour of cultural immersion per week, all in French. Aside from the mandatory language classes and Maryland-required literature and cultural immersion courses, I take France’s Ancient Regime and Tourism in Nice as my electives. Though it is my first experience taking classes in French that are not geared toward language learning, I love both courses and am looking forward to all of the knowledge I will gain by the end of the semester.
Overall, so far, I enjoy the academic aspect of my second abroad experience and can’t wait to spend the next four months in one of my favorite countries.
- Université Nice – Campus Carlone
- 98 Boulevard Edouard Herriot, 06000 Nice
Paix, Amour, Nice