Andrea Emrick: Online and en français

2014-2015 Issue 2
Andrea-2462

Photo credit: Dallas Curow

Andrea Emrick has a long association with McGill University; she earned her bachelor of commerce as a McGill undergraduate, worked as a lecturer for the School of Continuing Studies, earned a Certificat de compétence en français, as well as working for the Faculty of Management, Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies and Enrolment Services.

But after earning her Certified Associate in Project Management (CAPM) designation from the Project Management Institute, she was contemplating a career change. “I was considering a move to Ottawa, where most of the jobs are in government and you have to work bilingually,” explains Andrea. “So I was looking for a writing course, and for business writing in particular. My conversation was OK, but my writing skills were lacking, particularly professional writing. I started taking courses then took a leave of absence, went to Paris for three months, came back to look for work in Ottawa, and continued the program.”

That program was the Certificate of Proficiency in Written French – Workplace Communication (Online). The certificate is designed to offer intense training in written French as a second language at the mid-intermediate to advanced level. Its content is specifically designed to be applied in workplace contexts, and Andrea was part of the very first cohort.

“We were writing reports, as well as internal and external communication pieces,” says Andrea. “A lot of the reports were very similar to those I was writing at work on a day-to-day basis. I really appreciated that the exercises were real-world – it was easy to see how to apply what you were learning.”

Andrea completed three of the courses in Montreal before a job came up – not in Ottawa, but in Calgary, where she uses her French skills on a weekly, rather than daily basis.

“I finished the last three courses in Calgary, and it’s helped me keep my French language level where I want it to be. You eventually get to the point where you can think in French.”

As a result, Andrea would recommend the Certificate of Proficiency in Written French to others. “I was looking to work in a French environment, and I think I could do that now. It really provided the foundation for me to be able to write emails, draft reports, and actually understand that it’s not just a matter of translation. ‘Yes, you got your point across, but did you do it as a French speaker would?’ You couldn’t just translate your work – you really had to immerse yourself in it.”

Andrea also appreciated the program’s lecturers and online format. “Our professor was really dedicated; she knew something about everyone,” she says of Marie-Claude Beauchamp, faculty lecturer, part-time French program coordinator and special projects. “And the online environment made it easy to follow. From handouts and quizzes to peer collaboration and extra online resources, it was really comprehensive. For anyone that would be hesitant or skeptical of taking an online course, this is it.”

As one of the first to complete the certificate, Andrea was eligible to receive her certificate at McGill’s spring convocation ceremony. Although she was unable to make the trip from Calgary, her new skills are the best reward. “The program helps non-native French speakers increase our vocabulary, reinforce grammar rules and communicate in the workplace,” she says. “That’s the real benefit.”

 

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