On Thursday 11th February we hosted four A-level students from various local schools and gave them a taster of undergraduate study at Reading. The opportunity arose from the mentoring scheme of which Eliza (pictured giving a presentation) is part. Such schemes are vital because, alongside imparting knowledge to our own students, we aim to encourage more school pupils to apply for modern languages at degree level. Not just for the sake of our own careers, of course, (I’m really hoping for an academic job at the end of my PhD) but the UK economy does really need language speakers. Language skills deficit costs the UK £48bn a year. Plus, a modern language degree is such a great way to broaden the mind. Anyway, enough of the shameless plug!
The four A-level scholars were invited to attend a final year French Caribbean course run by Julia Waters. As a doctoral researcher, I have been assisting Julia on this course since October and was thrilled to hear that we would have the chance to inspire some young minds. Julia started the class with an introduction, aimed at the scholars, to the legacy of slavery in Caribbean society, French dominance, the importance of the search for identity in postcolonial Caribbean literature, and the concept of Postcolonialism. The four finalists then took to the floor with an enthusiastic and insightful presentation on Patrick Chamoiseau’s L’esclave vieil homme et le molosse, the story of a runaway slave in Martinique. I was personally very pleased with their efforts after assisting them with planning the presentation the week before.
After the presentation, the scholars departed for their campus tour and the seminar carried on as usual. We wish them all the best with their A-levels and hope the experience inspired them to apply for Modern Languages degrees. I also hope they bear Reading in mind during their applications and, who knows, I could be teaching them postcolonial literature one day!