“You get so much more immersion and opportunities to speak the language when you meet every day, which is really important when learning a new language.”
FREN 1010: Elementary French I
Professor: Elizabeth Groff
If you had told Class of 2020 alumna Kathryn Grant when she was a first-year student that she would graduate from UVA fluent in French, she wouldn’t have believed you.
Initially on a pre-medicine track, when course registration opened during the fall of her first year, Grant was reluctantly prepared to sign up for another semester of biology.
“I remember going to my parents and asking, ‘Do you think it would be strange if I switched to French instead?’” she said. Without prior experience with the language, Grant took Elementary French I, an entry-level course scheduled to meet every weekday.
“You get so much more immersion and opportunities to speak the language when you meet every day, which is really important when learning a new language,” said Grant, who went on to major in French and minor in sociology. “Because of that, my class got really close, and we felt so much more comfortable speaking with each other.”
By the end of the semester, Grant was hooked. During that summer, she taught herself the next course level of French and passed a placement test, granting her acceptance into FREN 2010.
Her love for the language grew when she worked as an au pair for a family in Lille, France. “I got back from my three months of being an au pair and thought, ‘That’s what I want to do,’” she said.
At UVA, Grant lived in La Maison Française, a historic student residence and center for French culture where students must speak French. Living there, Grant again found herself immersed in the language.
Today, Grant teaches private French lessons through a platform called Italki, where she meets with students from across the globe, ranging in age from 2 to 91.
“I’m just so grateful that I took introductory French, even though I wasn’t sure if it was the most reasonable thing to do at the time,” she said, “because it worked out pretty well.”
FREN 1010 will be offered in the spring with alternate professors.