We’re coming to the end of the first term of the Read in the Original! Foreign-language training program for researchers and I’m absolutely thrilled with the difference it has already made to the research and professional development of our researchers. Read in the Original! is a group of classes in foreign languages designed specifically to meet the needs of researchers who want to read in and translate from these languages. To meet that end, it is an accelerated program which focusses primarily (though not exclusively) on comprehension and on written language. This makes it very different from most language-training, which emphasises aural comprehension and verbal production and has a general rather than scholarly focus (if you want to learn how to ask where the toilet is, Read in the Original! isn’t for you, but if you want to be able to read, translate or even just refer to documents and texts in the original French, Ancient Greek, or German, then it most definitely is). Read in the Original! is intended specifically to help researchers develop language competencies for research purposes, and it’s free to all University of Sussex researchers! The only thing we expect from researchers is to commit to participating in the class for the whole term.
We are currently operating classes at three levels in French and German and at one level (beginner) in Ancient Greek. And now, thanks to the very generous continuing support from the University of Sussex Doctoral School, we will be continuing these courses through the Spring term, as well as adding new classes for beginners in both French and German. Please see contact details at the end of this post if you’d like to participate in any of the classes we offer!
I recently collected anonymous feedback from a little over half of the participants and it was very enthusiastic and positive. Researchers wrote about how the program opened up new avenues for their research, enabled them to cultivate professional relationships with translators and researchers working in other languages, expanded the range of career opportunities available to them and increased their confidence in their abilities to produce world-class research. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. In fact, there have been no complaints, only some suggestions for improvement such as additional homework and more class time––generally great things to hear!
In particular, I’m delighted with the dedication and skill of our tutors. These are some of the things participants have said about them:
- “Each class is varied and thoroughly engaging. Elsa is a superb teacher. She has a wonderful ability to build confidence. I feel that I can achieve my goal. I hope the classes continue next term.”
- “Stefanie’s teaching skills are among the best I have ever encountered in my life (I speak 3 foreign languages).”
It’s also very encouraging to hear that the program has helped provide researchers with a well-rounded life, something that can be very difficult to achieve as a researcher. These are some of the things students have said about the social and recreative benefits of the classes:
- “I met new people through classes which is important for a PhD writer to have healthy social/psychological life.”
- “Its being specific to PhD students is an advantage. Because most of the students have similar purposes and expectations from the program, it goes faster and is more accurate. Moreover, you feel more comfortable with people from the same age range.”
- “I call the Ancient Greek course, the best two hour of the week because it is a relaxed environment.” (This was confirmed by another respondant, who reported: “One member of the class said in the last lesson ‘This is the best two hours of the week.’”)
I’m very glad that researchers at University of Sussex and Doctoral School staff consider this initiative as important and beneficial as I do, and I hope that next term you might, too!
Regular updates on class times and locations, as well as other important information, are available on the Read in the Original! Blog at intheoriginal.wordpress.com.
If you are interested in joining us in Spring 2013, please contact the appropriate tutor:
Ancient Greek: Nikos Panagiotou – email@example.com
French: Elsa Damien – firstname.lastname@example.org
German: Stefanie Dornbusch – email@example.com
Or, for general inquiries please contact me, N. Gabriel Martin, at firstname.lastname@example.org