I chose to apply for funding to attend an ‘improvers’ French language course and summer school hosted virtually by Cardiff University to advance my language proficiency from beginners to intermediate; and to be equipped to complete the DELF (Diplôme d’études en langue française) A1 exam in late 2021. I came across the language learning opportunities at Cardiff University via the DTP as Cardiff is a part of the SWWDTP consortium. The language course and summer school at Cardiff are both intensive and held online in the evening; all of which suited my schedule well as a PhD student. Learning French is a vital component of my academic career progression as I want to pursue an academic career in Refugee Studies (incorporating ethnographic studies) or work for refugee-focused NGOs.

The ‘improvers’ course focused primarily on the grammatical elements of the French language, recapping the simple past tense, imperfect tense, and the future. The summer school enabled me to practice my speaking skills with other students, discussing topics such as food and French food culture, holidays, and hobbies. Having daily lessons for a week helped me understand how important it is to practice the language every day. The DTP’s RTSG fund has supported me twice now in accessing university-led French courses, and I am incredibly grateful for how much the opportunities have improved my French language skills over a relatively short-time period. As the course is intensive and hosted over 1 week in the Summer, it allowed me to focus on French while not disrupting my PhD progression and provided me with a supportive environment to gain adequate language proficiency in French. I now have plans to sit the DELF A1 exam later this year.

Being able to converse in French would enhance my applications for postdoctoral positions and other employment opportunities with refugee communities in the future. As many refugee communities are francophone, being able to speak French would enable me to better communicate with refugee communities when I plan to work on ethnographic projects for either a postdoc opportunity or working for a refugee charity such as the UNHCR. This is, no doubt, a significantly large goal which I will tackle over the new few years. Without the RTSG funding from the SWWDTP AHRC, I would not have been able to access the French course or summer school; both of which have improved my French language skills significantly in a short amount of time.

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