English at the Ecole des Ponts
Unlike other foreign languages at the Ecole des Ponts, English is compulsory. We counter this by offering as much choice as possible throughout the DFL English programme. Our aim is to help students become expert users of English, capable of communicating effectively with both the native speaker community and with the international community where native speakers may be in a minority or absent, but where expert standards are still expected.
For the first, we have a team of native speakers from varied backgrounds England, the United States, Australia and offer many opportunities to widen and deepen your knowledge of culture, literature, language, and customs. For the second, we make use of the fact that students in English classes are of varying levels, origins, characters and backgrounds, with different communication strategies and styles: not unlike future communication partners in the world. We also have specialist courses in particular fields, in which students will discover the essential performance and presentation standards of those disciplines in the wider international community.
Choosing your English course
We usually encourage students to choose their second language course before they choose their English class, since there are more English classes available. This does not mean that you should choose your English class just for the title, the teacher, or the time: each description will indicate the target population, the subject of the course, the kind and style of work involved, and the spirit or personality of the course. While choosing a course for one semester, students should also consider how this choice fits in with their total English programme over their time at the school - more a question of covering a range of different content areas and competences than an apparently neat linguistic progression from one level to another.
Courses usually offer a range of levels, so that even if students are not very strong in English, they can still choose a course on a subject that interests them. Some of our courses are language skill or level based, but most are organised around subjects. This is because we think that interesting and useful subjects are more motivating than language exercises detached from context, especially for students who have studied English for many years already. In this way, students can learn English and another subject at the same time. If levels are not entirely homogeneous as a result, this too is representative of the situation in the wider world, in which speakers learn from and adapt to one another.
Teachers, Staff, and Who to Contact
There are four permanent English teachers in the DFL and up to 10 part-time teachers in any one semester. Your class teacher is also your' English teacher: your first contact for English affairs and the person to go to for help in the first instance, and to inform if you change group or have to miss a class for any reason. The four permanent members of the English section are Stacey Benoit (USA), Thomas Harcharick ( USA ), Clare Lavelle ( Ireland ), and Caroline Preller (England). They are there to help in any way they can and welcome suggestions for new courses and activities.