Florence is the Associate Dean of Teaching and Learning at JCU as well as the Director of JCU’s Academy of Modern Languages. She has been lecturing in French since 2012, bringing her own brand of experience, passion and determination to the role.
She ensures that her students develop not only strong language skills, but the ability to navigate intercultural interactions and experiences. “Our French students are provided with opportunities to develop their intercultural competency,” Florence says. “In particular, our French program challenges cultural hegemony and enables our students to discover that French is also the language of many communities living in the Tropics.”
The program’s FR1001 Foundation French subject is a great example of this Tropics focus. Florence says the subject is best described as the study of Pacific French, allowing students to develop cultural awareness and gain insight into Pacific cultures. “Being able to understand cultural context is critical when it comes to translation,” she says.
For example, if students are reading a text written by a French author from mainland France and they come across the word “Tata”, it is likely that the author is referring to one’s aunt. However, if students were to find the same French word by an author from New Caledonia, it is likely that the author is using the word to say a friendly goodbye.
“Meaning can easily get lost in translation, even when translating single words,” Florence says.
Florence says most French learners spend time understanding the various transformations that the level of register can have on the language use and its translation. Register refers to the type of French a speaker uses. This includes formal French, informal French, refined French and modern or familiar French.
“French is one of those languages that has an informal and formal way of addressing people,” Florence says. “The grammar will change depending on which register you are speaking in.”
An example is the formal pronoun “vous”, the singular form for “you”. While this is used in formal French, Florence says people in French Polynesia rarely use this pronoun. “However, this does not mean that the person speaking is being less respectful,” she says. “It’s just part of the culture.”