Category Archives: Events and Competitions

French Film Competition – The Winners

 

posted by Simon Kemp

As promised last week, here are extracts from the winning entries in our French film competition.

First, here is part of Sophie Still’s reimagining of the ending of Jean de Florette. Our judges said her new end to the story ‘both captured the mood and character of the film and dramatically reworked the ending’.

Manon is standing, holding a furry, wriggling mass in her arms. Once again, she is standing in Ugolin’s garden and once again, he is nowhere to be found. She approaches another flowerbed of plants and vegetables, crouches and sets the rabbit down in the soil.

Manon: There you are, little rabbit.

The rabbit sniffs at a bean plant and begins to nibble on a lettuce leaf.

Manon: That’s right. Feel free to eat whatever you want!

Suddenly an out-of-breath Ugolin rushes into the garden.

Ugolin: (holding up the secateurs, shouting angrily) Looking for something? How dare you destroy my flowers! Do you know how much they were worth?

Manon jumps in surprise, revealing the rabbit which is munching happily on the vegetables. He screams.

My plants! That’s it you’ve had it now!

Ugolin lunges towards the flowerbed. Manon screams and backs away quickly but he grabs the rabbit instead and dangles it by its ears.

Manon: (shouting) No! Put him down! Don’t touch my rabbit!

Ugolin: (grinning manically) But little girl, he’s not your rabbit anymore. He has come into my garden and eaten my plants – that makes him a pest, which means I’m allowed to do this…

He drops the rabbit onto the ground in front of him and snatches up the shovel that was leaning against the wall of the house. He raises it above his head.

Manon: (screaming) No! No!

Ugolin brings down the shovel and crushes the rabbit. Manon bursts into tears and screams and screams. Before he can do anything else, she dives in, scoops up the rabbit’s broken body and runs as fast as she can down the hillside. Ugolin calls after her.

Ugolin: Come back in here again and you’ll be next!

******

Manon hands the rabbit to Jean, who examines it carefully.

Jean: Oh my! Poor creature. Did a fox do this?

She wipes a tear from her eye and sniffles but does not reply. Jean picks up his shovel and begins to dig.

Jean: We are gathered here today to celebrate the life of Monsieur –

Manon: (quietly) Pierre

Jean: Monsieur Pierre who lived a short but happy life. He loved lettuce leaves and we loved him. He will be missed.

He picks up the rabbit and is placing it carefully in its deep grave when he nearly drops it in surprise.

What is this? The bottom of this grave is full of mud! But if there is mud, that must mean that there is—

Manon: (bursts out) Water!

Secondly, here is an extract from Lidija Beric’s new ending for Paris nous appartient, which the judges described as a ‘brilliant and ingenious reworking’ which ‘perfectly captures the darkness and complexity of the original’.

« Pourquoi lui as-tu dit de venir? »
Nos yeux se sont rencontrés et je l’ai vu, j’ai vu ce mélange de haine et d’amour quand il m’a regardée.
‘Terry !’
Je n’ai daigné répondre. Nous avons attendu dans le silence comme les ombres calmes au milieu d’une tempête.
Les pas faibles d’Anne ont soudain pu être écoutés et Philip a craqué. Il a crié encore « Pourquoi ? Pourquoi lâche –»
« Il est nécessaire qu’elle vienne. » Ma voix était monotone.
Les coups frappés à la porte ont transpercé l’air comme des balles.
« Ta nécessité est arrivée. » Il a craché.
« Comment oses-tu? Je n’ai rien ! Je n’ai rien sans mon enfant ! C’est toi, tu as tous ce que tu veux-»
« Tais-toi! Elle est folle, ton enfant, elle sera bientôt sur le point de mourir! Quand oublieras-tu la passé et te concentreras-tu à l’avenir ? Paris est en danger des forces étrangères. Si nous restions là sans rien faire-»
« Je vous écoute ! Terry ! » a-t-Anne poussé des cris.
Je n’ai réagi qu’en baissant ma voix. « Pourquoi penses-tu que je l’ai dit à Anne ? »
« Pas encore, évidemment-»
« Je vais lui dire maintenant. »
« Et quoi, alors ? Ce que tu as dit à Juan ? »
« Qui sait quel rôle je vais jouer aujourd’hui ?» j’ai dit énigmatiquement.
J’ai ouvert la porte pendant que Philip a disparu aux ténèbres de la pièce voisine.
« Anne. Montrez-moi. »
Anne n’a pas du tout hésité à me donner la note de suicide.
Je lui ai mené dans le salon. C’était une interprétation maintenant. J’ai allumé la platine pour que la musique de Juan puisse m’accompagner avec l’air mystérieux.
Anne a deviné tout de suite.  « C’est l’enregistrement de Juan ? »
« Qui d’autre ? » J’ai dit du ton condescendant. « Et je sais ce que vous pensez. Que j’ai trahi Gérard parce que je ne le lui ai donné pas. Ma raison était simple. Je ne pouvais pas le laisser partir. Cela aurait signifié que j’avais oublié Juan. Ma connexion avec lui était si forte que je devais garder l’enregistrement. »
« C’était quoi, votre connexion ? Que l’aviez-vous tué ? » Anne a demandé.
« Les agents de la Falange l’a tué. »
« Ce n’était pas suicide ? Mais vous lui avez dit quelque chose. Quelque chose qui l’a affecté…»
« La même chose que je vais vous dire. Maintenant. Êtes-vous prête ? C’est une vérité de la  puissance incroyable. »
« Vous avez pour but de me détruire ? »
« Ca dépend. Voudriez-vous vous asseoir ? »
Comme si elle était dans un rêve, elle est tombée dans la chaise.

We’ll launch a new competition at the same time next year, and we look forward as always to the wildly creative contributions we receive.

Harry Potter and the Rosetta Stone

 

posted by Oxford’s Creative Multilingualism project

When Creative Multilingualism hosted LinguaMania at Oxford’s Ashmolean Museum, the Greek and Roman sculpture gallery was taken over by a crowd-sourced version of Harry Potter. During the evening event, visitors to the gallery were asked to help translate Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone sentence-by-sentence into whichever languages they happened to know. The translations were written on a giant scroll rolled out along the length of the gallery, allowing visitors to see Oxford’s linguistic diversity unfold.

The activity was entitled “Harry Potter and the Rosetta Stone”, with a nod in the direction of the British Museum, home to the Rosetta Stone itself. It proved to be one of the most popular at LinguaMania and people queued up to be able to contribute and engage with this celebration of Oxford’s linguistic talents. During the course of the evening, the team collected over 88 translated sentences in 51 different languages, ranging from Chinese and Esperanto to Welsh. Towards the end of the event, the scroll moved to the Atrium in the centre of the Ashmolean Museum and was unfurled over the balcony, allowing LinguaMania participants to see the many translations which had been collected. This was followed by a recitation of a section of Harry Potter in various languages, so that visitors to LinguaMania could hear as well as see the hidden multilingualism in Oxford’s community.

The activity was conceived and organised by doctoral students Henriette Arndt, Annina Hessel and Anna-Maria Ramezanzadeh from the Oxford University Department of Education. In the below video they describe why they chose Harry Potter to help highlight Oxford’s linguistic diversity and explain how the activity gives participants the opportunity to showcase their creativity through translation. You can see photos of Harry Potter and the Rosetta Stone below.

 

Bringing Proust’s Imaginary Music to Life

posted by Jennifer Rushworth

Many people will have heard of Proust’s ‘madeleine’ moment, where a piece of cake dipped in tea has the power to revive full technicolour memories of the narrator’s past.

Fewer people will have delved further into Proust’s long novel A la recherche du temps perdu (translated originally as Remembrance of Things Past and more recently as In Search of Lost Time). Even first-year French students at Oxford only read the first two hundred pages of the first volume, Du côté de chez Swann (Swann’s Way/The Way by Swann’s). And there are seven volumes in total to get through (not unlike that more modern classic, Harry Potter…)!

Do read on, however, and you will encounter one of my favourite characters and some of my favourite passages. Meet Vinteuil, a composer. Vinteuil is a strange composer, however, for he is purely fictional or imaginary.

Early readers of Proust’s novel were obsessed with identifying the man behind the mask, and suggested a number of famous French composers whose music you may have heard or played: Saint-Saëns, Debussy, Ravel, Fauré, Franck… In contrast, more recently readers have quite rightly tended instead to read Vinteuil as pointing not to any real composer, but rather as a specifically literary, entirely imaginary manifestation.

What does it mean for a composer to be fictional or imaginary? It means that their music is essentially silent, heard only in language, and often mediated by the written responses of different characters within the novel.

From Proust’s novel we have only sparse details about Vinteuil’s life. He was a village organist and piano teacher, widowed, and with a daughter. His music earned him neither fame nor riches during his lifetime. Yet two of Vinteuil’s compositions emerge in the novel as sublime works of genius: a sonata for piano and violin, and a septet (a piece for seven instruments, which are never entirely coherently listed by Proust).

Generously supported by the John Fell OUP Research Fund, I am leading a project this academic year (2016–17) to bring to life Vinteuil’s violin sonata.

How can Proust’s novel act as a catalyst for new pieces of music? And what will these new compositions tell us about how musicians read and respond to Proust’s literary music?

Two undergraduate students in Music at Worcester College, Oxford have been commissioned each to write a violin sonata responding to the passages from Proust’s novel where Vinteuil’s sonata is heard and described. These passages have been wonderfully translated into English by a team of undergraduates in French at Oxford, led by Madeleine Chalmers (Cambridge), and can be consulted here in both French and English.

If you can, do join us for a free final concert on Friday 5 May 2017 at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, to hear these new commissions, alongside readings from Proust’s novel. Free tickets can be booked here.

Alternatively, the new music will be also be available and recorded online, so do check back in May to hear the music of Vinteuil newly imagined by two student composers.

For more information and to explore this project further, please consult the website: https://proustandmusic.wordpress.com/

Spend a day exploring languages at Christ Church

posted by Lynton Lees

Join us for our Modern Foreign Languages & Linguistics Study Day on Thursday 16th March 2017!

Are you in Year 11 or 12 with a keen interest in Modern Foreign Languages
Are you considering studying a Language and/or Linguistics at university? 
Or are you interested in studying a language alongside another subject (such as EnglishClassicsHistoryLaw or Philosophy)? 
Do you want to learn a new language at degree-level, such as CzechGermanGreekItalianPortuguese or Russian
Christ Church, one of the colleges of the University of Oxford, is hosting our first ever Modern Foreign Languages Study Day on Thursday 16th March 2017!
This event is open to all Y11 and Y12 students in UK state/maintained schools or sixth-form colleges who are interested in finding out more about what it’s like to study languages and/or linguistics at a top university. The day will include a dynamic and action-packed programme of taster lectures and workshops led by Oxford students and tutors, as well as helpful sessions on making a competitive application to a top university to study languages and linguistics. This is a fantastic opportunity to visit a beautiful Oxford college while finding out more about what a degree in languages and linguistics could have to offer you so don’t miss out!

This event is free of charge and lunch will be provided. This event is also open to any teachers interested in finding out more about applying for language courses at Oxbridge and other top universities. Accommodation on the night of Wednesday 15th March is available for attendees travelling long distances, and we are able to offer assistance with travel expenses to students who require it. For full details please see the information page here. Please share this information with any students or teachers you think would be interested in attending!

To book a place please complete our booking form here. Registration will close at noon on Thursday 9th March. We recommend you book early to avoid disappointment! For questions please contact Lynton Lees, our Access and Outreach Officer (Lynton.lees@chch.ox.ac.uk).

We look forward to welcoming you to college!

Creative Multilingualism

posted by Simon Kemp

Last Friday, Oxford University kicked off a four-year, multi-million pound programme of research, outreach and public events around the theme of Creative Multilingualism.

We’re looking at connections between the ability to speak or learn more than one language and creativity of all kinds. We’re convinced there are vast reserves of multi-language ability and language-related creativity even here among the British who so often see themselves as lacking the gift or enthusiasm for languages. As the project leaders themselves put it:

British society perceives itself as monoglot, but nothing could be further from the truth: many schools teach pupils with some 100 languages between them, and many workplaces are veritable hubs of multilingualism. Nationally, this is an under-valued resource, not only economically but also educationally and culturally. One aspect that is under-valued is the creative potential of a linguistic diversity that interacts productively with cultural diversity.

Even those of us who grow up using only one language are born with the capability of using more than one, and we never completely lose that talent. In fact we deploy it routinely in our day-to-day lives as we move between different linguistic contexts at home, at work or at school, and in leisure pursuits. This involves a continuous process of creative adaptation. When using our language skills, we draw all the time on an individual creative capability that may also inspire us to experiment with language in monolingual or multilingual language play or poetry.

Over the next four years, the online hub for the project will be here:

http://www.creativeml.ox.ac.uk/

Please do check it out to see what events are planned, what the research strands are exploring, and how you or your institution might like to get involved.

It’s also an information hub on language learning in the UK. You can, for instance, find out about current issues in school language qualifications (including work to address A-level grading concerns) here.

Or see a breakdown of the kinds of jobs that language graduates go into after university here.

Or head over here to discover a wealth of bite-sized language facts, including which breakfast cereal goes Knisper! Knasper! Knusper! in German, and why Finnish people pace around hot porridge like a cat.

As the research programme develops over the course of the next four years, the Creative Multilingualism website will grow and grow. Please do check back from time to time to discover what’s new.

Try out life as an Oxford student for a week this summer!

posted by Simon Kemp

Would you like to spend a week with us this summer, living in an Oxford college, learning about a modern foreign language and its culture, and getting a taste of what it’s like to study here as a student? All entirely FREE of charge, food and accommodation included? (We’ll even pay for your train ticket to get here.)

If you’re currently in Year 12 of a state school, and have some free time in July this year, please do think about signing up for the course, or for one of the dozens of others on offer, including German, Spanish, or ‘beginner languages’ to give you a little experience of Russian, Portuguese and Italian languages and cultures. The French summer school runs from 2-7 July this year as does the Linguistics summer school.  Spanish and the Beginner Languages school both run from 16-21 July, while the German summer school is from 23-28 July.

Here are the details of the French week:

This UNIQ course is a chance to immerse yourself in the literature, theatre, poetry, film and linguistics of the French language.You will spend daily sessions at the Language Centre practising and improving your existing language skills, followed by fascinating lectures and seminars, and the chance to use the world famous Taylorian and Bodleian libraries for private study.

Our aim is to give you a taste of what it is really like to read French at Oxford, and to give you a sense of the unrivalled breadth of our course. Throughout the week, you will have the opportunity to hone your language skills and consolidate your knowledge of French grammar. You will also participate in classes introducing you to an exciting array of topics, ranging from Linguistics and 17th-century tragedy to French-language cinema and 19th-century poetry.

You will be expected to do some preparatory reading before the course so that you can make the most of the week you spend here: we’ve chosen Annie Ernaux’s 20th-century classic autobiographical text La place.  We will post a copy of the book to all successful participants in early June. Following a lecture that will explore some of the key themes and contexts surrounding Ernaux’s book, you will have the chance to test out (and flesh out) your ideas in a seminar. On the Friday, you will even experience an Oxford-style tutorial, in which you and three other students get to discuss your close reading of a poem with a specialist.

Student Experiences

“I really enjoyed the intimacy of the Alumni Dinner. Also, I enjoyed the morning grammar classes and the 17th Century French Theatre lecture as I was not expecting to enjoy it but really loved it!”

“The mentors were really friendly and easy to relate to, and the tutors were not as scary as I had thought they would be! It was a real adventure and one I wouldn’t hesitate to do again.”

You can find details of all the courses on offer here, along with information about how to sign up. The deadline for applications is January 24th, so you don’t have long to think about it, I’m afraid. We hope to see you in July!

Literature Masterclass at Oxford

Image result for taylor institute oxford

On Tuesday in Oxford, the French department opened its doors to sixth-formers from local state schools for a new kind of outreach event. With the new literature component in A-levels, many students are faced for the first time with the prospect of having to write short essays in French about famous French literary texts, from Moliere’s Tartuffe to Delphine de Vigan’s No et moi. Since teaching people how to analyse French literary texts is very much our thing, we thought we might be able to help out.

Over a hundred students from a dozen schools were invited, filling the Main Hall of our modern languages faculty. We started with a session on techniques of analysis, talking about words and imagery, perspective, tense and theatricality in the literary text, and attempting a little live analysis of a text. Then, after refreshments, we split into small groups for some close study of text that students are, or soon will be, studying in school, including L’Etranger, No et moi , Un secret and Un sac de billes. With lunch at an Oxford college as well, it was hopefully a useful introduction to literary study and an experience to remember.

We’re hoping to build on this with more online posts relating to A-level texts, of which last week’s look at Un sac de billes was the first. Further literary posts are on their way throughout the coming year.

 

 

 

Joyeux Noël et Bonne Année

noel

posted by Simon Kemp

This blog is about to head off on its Christmas break, with just time for a 2016 round-up before we go.

photo [8485]

We started the year on a culinary theme with the delicious French tradition of galette des rois, and revisited the topic of food from time to time with a Belgian stew called Waterzooi, marmite from Geneva, some big, round bread, and the great oignon/ognon spelling controversy.

choix

Further language horrors were on view in French translation fails and tattoo fails, and we examined the French language from its ancient Frankish roots to the modern-day twittersphere.

livre-en-gros-caracteres-meursault-contre-enquete

We’ve also suggested some French novels you might like to try, including D’argile et de feu, Meursault: contre-enquête, and Eux sur la photo, and talked about the film Persepolis.

blog2

Along the way, we’ve also found time to explore a lively range of topics, such as French theatre in the time of Shakespeare, French kids’ books in the nineteenth century, the colourful life of Jean ‘Nicotine’ Nicot, and the curious tale of the Bodleian library’s fake book.

libe

The prospect of Brexit dominated much of the year, and we considered its impact on modern languages in universities. We also managed to find out what our students and your teachers have been up to recently. We launched our 2017 French Film competition, and the new Spanish flash fiction competition alongside it. And lastly, slipped in here and there, were a few posts about what you can do here at Oxford University, why you might want to, and how you can go about applying to come and study with us.

billes

We’ll be back on the first Wednesday in January with the first in a new series of posts answering a question about an A-level set text. We’ll start by asking why a memoir that doesn’t really seem to be about marbles (or, for that matter, bags) should have been given the title Un sac de billes.

French Film Competition (Now with added Spanish Flash Fiction Competition!)

gasoil

posted by Jenny Oliver and Jonathan Patterson

UPDATE: For details of the Oxford Spanish Department’s new ‘Flash Fiction’ competition, see below, after the French Film Competition.

The Department of French at Oxford University is looking for budding film enthusiasts in Years 7-11 and 12-13 to embrace the world of French cinema. To enter the competition, students in each age group are asked to re-write the ending of a film in no more than 1500 words.

You can work in English or French. No additional credit will be given for writing in French, but incorrect French grammatical expression will not be penalised: this is an exercise in creativity, rather than language!

The judges are looking for plausible yet imaginative new endings. There are no restrictions as to the form the entry might take: screen-play, play-script, prose, prose with illustrations. We’d also love to see filmed YouTube entries: feel free to experiment!

For 2017 we are inviting you to choose one film, either classic or contemporary, as per your age bracket:

Years 7-11:

Jean de Florette (1986, dir. Claude Berri) [PG]

OR

MicMacs à tire-larigot (2009, dir. Jean-Pierre Jeunet) [12A]
Years 12-13:

Paris nous appartient (1961, dir. Jacques Rivette)  [12]

OR

Microbe et Gasoil (2015, dir. Michel Gondry) [15]

 

To help you choose, here are the trailers.

For Jean de Florette:

For MicMacs:

For Microbe et Gasoil:

And, instead of a trailer, a scene from Paris nous appartient:

 

A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning student in each age group, with runner-up prizes of £25.

For further details about entering the competition (including the points in each film where we’d like you to take up the story), see the FAQs below. Each essay should be accompanied by a cover sheet.

Essays and cover sheets should be submitted by email to french.essay@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by noon on 31st March 2017.

 

And now, a message from the Oxford Spanish department:

Spanish Flash Fiction Competition: NEW!!

Did you know that the shortest story in Spanish is only seven words long? Here it is: ‘Cuando despertó, el dinosaurio todavía estaba allí’ (Augusto Monterroso, “El dinosaurio”).

Write a story in Spanish of not more than 100 words, and send it to schools.liaison@mod-langs.ox.ac.uk by noon on Friday 31st March 2017 with your name, age and year group, and the name and address of your school.

A first prize of £100 will be awarded to the winning entry in each category (Years 7-11 and 12-13), with runner-up prizes of £25. The judges will be looking for creativity and imagination as well as good Spanish! The winning entries will be published on our website.

 

 

 

FAQS:

  1. What counts as ‘the ending’ of the film?

We’d like you to start your re-writing from the following points:

Paris nous appartient: from 1:52:55, when Philip asks Terry, ‘Pourquoi lui as-tu dit de venir?’

Jean de Florette: from 1:38:34, where Ugolin confronts Jean and says: ‘Monsieur Jean, il faut que je vous parle franchement…’

Micmacs from 1:16:44, when the message is relayed: ‘On lance!’, ‘On lance!,’ ‘On lance!’

Microbe et Gasoil from 1:29:23, when Microbe says ‘C’est possible de changer l’aller-retour contre deux allers, s’il vous plaît?’

  1. Does ‘re-writing’ mean I have to change everything?

There is nothing stopping you from watching the ‘real’ ending and then modifying it as you see fit. Indeed, you might find this helpful. Please note, though, that we’re looking for creative, entertaining and inventive new endings, which address as fully and plausibly as possible the strands of the story that are left unresolved at the end-points we’ve specified above.

  1. What form should the essay take?

There is no particular expectation as to how you submit your entry — you might like, for example, to submit it in screenplay format (with descriptions of camera angle, voice-over, lighting etc.), or as a play (with speech-prefixes and dialogue) or in prose, as in a novel. You might even like to submit your ‘new’ ending via YouTube or other social media! If so, email us the link with your attached coversheet. The form should be the one you feel shows your creativity in the best light.

  1. Where can I or my school/college get hold of the films?

The DVDs are readily and affordably available via Amazon (http://www.amazon.co.uk or http://www.amazon.fr). 

  1. Is there a limit to the amount of entries any one school can make?

Yes. There is a limit of 15 entries per school per age group.

  1. Should I enter as an individual or can I enter as part of a group?

We would ask you to keep to individually-named submissions, please: this is just to ensure as much as possible parity and fairness between entries, and to avoid any distinction between smaller and larger groups.

 

Top Teachers

OUITA

posted by Simon Kemp

A nice tradition in Oxford is our Inspirational Teacher Award, where current first-year Oxford undergraduates are asked to nominate teachers or careers advisers who inspired them to apply to Oxford, fostered their passion for a particular subject or supported them through the application process. The students asked to nominate teachers are all from UK state schools or colleges with a limited history and tradition of sending students to Oxford.

fis

This year, one of my own students at Somerville, Fis Noibi, who’s studying French and Arabic, nominated the head of sixth form at her old school, and he was selected as one of the winners.

Mr Course, from Robert Clack School in Dagenham, was named as one of 10 inspirational state school teachers from across Britain. In an interview with the Barking and Dagenham Post, Fis said Mr Course is ‘more than deserving of the award because, if not for him, I would not be doing my current course, let alone in this university. Mr Course is such an inspiration’

The winning teachers were honoured at an awards ceremony at St Peter’s College.  The award scheme, which was established six years ago, recognises the crucial role teachers and careers advisers play in encouraging talented students in their schools or colleges. Here are the teachers and students, with Fis and Mr Course four minutes in: