Ian Crichton, a fourth-year public affairs and policy management student, speaks about how Co-op opened his eyes to bilingualism’s importance.
Let’s be honest, it isn’t easy. For many students, who, like me, were brought up in an Anglophone environment, with no need to learn another language, the Ottawa dynamic of bilingualism poses a challenge. Students who have come here with the aim of studying political affairs, governance, business and internationally focused disciplines are often reminded of the necessity of mastering French (or (depending on one’s career goal) a third language), a message best exemplified by the fact that many programs make mandatory a language credit. Only this summer after three years at Carleton, did I come to understand the value of these courses as more than satisfying an academic requirement. Language credits really do exist to influence the direction of your academic endeavours and they create a basis from which lifelong goals can be developed and met!
Having the opportunity to explore a bilingual Ottawa through my coursework in French and Italian and most recently a Co-op work term with the Government of Canada has provided me with a new perspective on what it means to be multilingual. I have developed a greater appreciation of how language skills can be utilized outside of the classroom, a comfort with my own skill set and, perhaps most importantly, the confidence that my skills will continue to develop. No longer do I understand the purpose of introductory courses as being to ensure that all students have mastered the intended course material for a purely academic purpose (although that would be good for some). I now tend to think of such opportunities as being doorways to greater cross-cultural appreciation and the start of a lifelong dedication to expressing myself in many languages.
Having taken two credits in French and a half credit in Italian by no means do I consider myself bi (or tri) lingual to the extent of my classmates and colleagues, at least not yet. That being said, I find myself connecting with people in new ways, professionally, through clubs and societies and even friendships, reinforcing the idea that there is more to be gained from a language course than vocabulary and grammar! The School of Linguistics and Language Studies (SLaLS) offers courses in twelve different languages and the Department of French caters to all skill levels, as well as those seeking to specialize in a specific linguistic skill. With so many languages and a culturally diverse city in which to practice it is truly a great way to become involved at Carleton and in the Ottawa community!
Submitted by Ian Crichton, a fourth-year public affairs and policy management student.
For information on Co-op placements, visit carleton.ca/cc
For more information on languages offered at Carleton, visit carleton.ca/slals