One of the great strengths of our PhD programs is the importance accorded to training graduate students to teach in a variety of ways at multiple levels.
All graduate students in French have the opportunity to teach language classes at a variety of levels and to receive pedagogical training and mentoring. In their first few years of teaching, graduate students typically teach in the French 101-104 level. Professor Brett Wells, Director of the French Language Program, runs a summer workshop for first-time TAs just before the fall semester, and he provides mentoring and conducts teaching observations throughout their first year. All graduate students teaching for the first time register in the FR 2970 Teaching of French seminar taught by Professor Lorraine Denman.
Advanced graduate students in French routinely have the opportunity to teach courses in the intermediate (fifth- and sixth-semester) curriculum, such as FR220 La France aujourd'hui, FR221 Reading French: Literature, Media and Culture, and FR255 Speaking French: Atelier d’expression orale. Students also regularly teach FR 80 Modern French Novel in translation. In each case, students are assigned a faculty member who mentors them in developing a syllabus and making the transition to intermediate teaching. The mentor also conducts class visits and offers helpful feedback. These teaching experiences are invaluable for the academic job market.
Students also have the opportunity to learn how a study abroad program works by applying to assist the director of our summer Pitt in France programs. In addition to teaching language or media classes and running excursions, the graduate student assistant also learns how to provide pastoral care to abroad students.
Our graduate seminars include units devoted to translating the seminar content into a lesson plan targeting intermediate and advanced undergraduate courses. This regular pedagogical focus helps students learn how to teach at the advanced level and prepare pedagogical materials for a job market dossier. Graduate students at the dissertation stage also have the opportunity to apprentice in advanced undergraduate courses at the 1000-level (courses for French majors and minors). These arrangements are worked out ad hoc with faculty members but typically include a combination of classroom observation, syllabus and lesson preparation, and guest lecturing/teaching.
Students in the Film and Media Studies PhD program with a Concentration in French also receiving pedagogical training and experience in teaching film and media. In their third year, FMS/French students typically TA for one of the regular large lecture classes of FMST 150 Film Analysis in the fall or FMST 170 World Film History in the spring. TAs attend lectures and learn the skills of lecturing for large classes through observation. They teach two recitation sections to learn the skills of teaching film and media in the classroom. The faculty member teaching these courses mentors them in the process of teaching film and media. Advanced FMS/French students might teach one of these two courses in the summer or they might also teach FR 0016 History of French Cinema or FMST 120 Introduction to Film during the year.
Advanced graduate students in the Gender and Sexuality research network have the opportunity to teach a section of FR 12 French Kiss: Love, Sex, France (along with a team of instructors teaching other sections of the course), and they can apply to teach the introductory courses in the Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies undergraduate program. For more information on this, please visit the GSWS website. Students might apprentice teach in advanced courses such as FR 1065 Gender, Sexuality, French Thought or FR 1070 Gender and Sexuality in 21st Century France.
While not teaching per se, graduate students gain experience in organizing events for undergraduates, including film screenings, conversation tables, and lectures or workshops with external guests from the French-speaking world.