Preparing to study French at university: tips from Marjorie Huet-Martin

This post is part of a monthly series on bridging the gap between secondary and higher education. It is intended for students and teachers from both systems to reflect on how to make the transition smoother.


Marjorie Huet-Martin is a Senior Teaching Fellow in French at the University of Portsmouth.


Tell us about your role and what you teach

I am a Senior Teaching Fellow in French and I teach a wide range of French-language modules at all undergraduate and proficiency levels (from A1 to C2). I also teach translation modules both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

What do students enjoy about studying French at university?

I would say that what students enjoy the most is when they get to use French independently as a tool in order to carry out various meaningful tasks. This allows them to boost their confidence and communication skills. They also enjoy being able to produce the output themselves, learning about French culture and society and the variety of topics studied. And of course, the year abroad!

What is different between studying French in Sixth Form and in university?

The degree of independence they acquire when it comes to producing their own output (recording podcasts, filming news reports, translation agency simulation etc.). Seeing the language as a real communication tool.

Any tips or recommendations for students who would like to study French?

To prepare for French study at University, I would recommend students to take the habit of doing things they like doing but to do them in French! This includes reading your favourite books in French, watching films or series in French (Walter Presents offers a great selection of foreign TV dramas easily accessible online) or switching phone language settings to French. Doing a little bit of French on a regular basis helps a lot! Also, I would encourage students to keep up to date with the news in the Francophone world. Many online resources can be used, such as RFI’s daily Journal en français facile, which allows you to download the radio podcast and read its transcript.

Whether you have studied French at secondary school or not, studying French opens lots of doors in terms of career opportunities. Studying French allows students to develop key skills, including communication skills and intercultural awareness. French is fun language to learn. It is spoken worldwide, giving students lots of opportunities to explore the world.

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