Romance and Classical Studies
Graduate French Studies - Careers
Not everyone is aware of the wide range of countries where French is spoken. The map below, published by L’Organisation internationale de la francophonie, provides a helpful overview:
The M.A. in French allows students to tap into global opportunities, whether one chooses the domain of business, education, development, journalism or politics. Developing linguistic and cultural proficiency in French is key for gaining insight into different world perspectives; such proficiency also makes accessible research in multiple academic disciplines. International agencies such as the U.N., NATO, the hubs of the European Union (Bruxelles, Strasbourg, and Luxembourg) "and" between "UNESCO" and "the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)," are just some of the international organizations that become more accessible with advanced- to superior-level proficiency of French.
According to the Organisation de la Francophonie [OIF], a French-speaking Commonwealth that unites 75 countries with a population of 890 million, the French language continues to play a vital role in globalization [http://www.francophonie.org/Qui-sommes-nous.html]. Among Europeans, French is the second most common native language (after German): in fact, there are 220 million French speakers world wide, and the French-speaking nations make up 20% of the global market. It is worth noting as well that over 60% of French speakers is under the age of 30, and within the international academic context, there are 781 institutions of higher education and research. Moreover, as the American Association of Teachers of French points out, "French-speaking countries have been at the forefront of medical research in fields such as HIV virus research, medical genetics, and reconstructive surgery. They have also been on the cutting edge of scientific discoveries and technological innovations in nanotechnology, nuclear energy, voice compression, fiber optics, microchips, video gaming, aerospace technology, and high-speed rail services. [...]" Equally, if not more, important: "a person who knows French can work toward global consensus and peace and participate in humanitarian efforts, since French is an official or working language in many international agencies and organizations, including Amnesty International World Health Organization, International Red Cross, United Nations, and Doctors without Borders" [http://www.utm.edu/staff/bobp/french/frmatters.html]. In short, the French Masters program at Bowling Green State University encourages students to explore the relevance, diversity and dynamism of the French-speaking world both in France and other Francophone contexts.1
Through the M.A. in French program, students will recognize, along with Michael Schutzler, CEO of livemocha, an on-line language learning website, that on-line translating programs do not suffice: "technology is brilliantly efficient at delivering information but notoriously inadequate at creating meaning. Language is a performing art that requires practice, nuance, and personality to convey an idea." Moreover, M.A. candidates in the Cooperative Degree program will themselves learn and teach successive generations that "[...] administrators see the much-vaunted globalization of the world's economy as a process by which particular countries and regions become more important, while other countries and regions become less important [...] But that is precisely what globalization is not. Globalization, which has accelerated over the last two decades, is a process by which the health of any nation's individual economy becomes increasingly dependent on international trade. [...] A country that merely wants to buy goods and services from other countries, thus accumulating a huge trade deficit, may be able to rely on others' willingness to speak its language. But a country that wants to sell goods and services must learn the languages and cultures of its prospective customers.2 Many studies exist that indicate how the study of a second language enhances a student's cognitive skills, for instance, an aptitude in evaluation, the highest cognitive skill in Bloom's taxonomy.3 One must also not forget the insight, however, that mastering a second language provides an edge in the domains of business, politics, media, tourism and the increasingly global service industries. As Professor Oded Shenkar, Ohio State University Ford Motor Company Chair in Global Business Management, predicts in his book The Chinese Century, "the ability to work across borders and cultures will increasingly be core not just to global mobility, but to middle class status altogether, while the monolingual, lower-skilled poor of all countries will increasingly resemble each other, whether they live in Boise or Bangladesh.4
1The French program at BGSU also offers a summer program in Ouagadougou in Burkina-Faso (West Africa).
2Stephen Brockmann in The Chronicle for Higher Learning, 3/6/2009.
3Foster, K. M., & Reeves, C. K. (1989). Foreign Language in the Elementary School (FLES improves cognitive skills. FLES News, 2(3),4
4Cited by Stacie Nevadomski Berdan & Rebecca Weiner, Huffington Post May 27, 2012.
Closer to home: a recent survey of our M.A. alumni/alumnae revealed a broad spectrum of careers, including (among others): chair of a French department; assistant director of study abroad programs; teacher at the secondary level; professor of a two- or four-year institution of higher education; director of international sales; translator; and attorney. In addition, several graduates each year typically go on to pursue a PhD (in recent years, BGSU alums have been accepted into the University of Indiana, Bloomington, Florida State University, Ohio State University, and Pennsylvania State University, to name a few). Other alums choose to return to France, often teaching English in the French government’s assistant program.
For students interested in a teaching career, the year at BGSU makes possible the exploration of contemporary approaches to teaching College-level French (FREN 6010) and, on a competitive basis, the opportunity to teach over two semesters one’s own elementary French course while being supervised by a faculty member serving as T.A. Coordinator.
For more insight into other career opportunities associated with a Masters of Art in French, click on the links provided below. We also encourage students to contact the University’s Career Center.