I decided to interview my French professor, Erin Stigers, for this outcome. I chose to interview her because she shares the interest in the French language that I do.
What do you do in addition to teaching?
I also work about 25 hours a week in retail and I do intermittent free-lance translation work for a French-Canadian company.
Why did you decide this career/position?
I always really enjoyed the process of learning languages and thought that I would like to be part of that process as others (my students) learn the language. I also like how I get to work with different groups of people every semester.
What was your major in college?
My bachelor’s is in World Language Education with an emphasis in French. My master’s is in French linguistics.
What do you like best about your job?
I like when we (as a class) examine the syntactic differences between French and English, and students start to think using that new grammar. I also like when classes can have discussions about life (hobbies, films, TV, career, politics) entirely in French. It’s interesting to hear my students’ opinions.
Did you always want to be in this career/position?
For a brief time I thought I wanted to teach at the high school level. I learned that in many cases, that job is more about classroom management and discipline than engaging with the material. I’ve found that we (the classes and I) can spend more time engaging with the material at the college level.
What do you do for fun? Hobbies?
I spend time with friends and family.
Are you where you thought you would be when you were in college?
No, because I thought I would be teaching high school.
How do you balance home and work, and teaching vs. researching?
Right now I am not conducting research. It is difficult to balance more than one job, but effective time management and planning makes it easier.
What general advice would you give college students?
If you have a sinking feeling that you are in the wrong major, you probably are. Choose something that inspires you, and if you are worried about career potential, make a concerted effort to consult people in the field to learn about the job market and what it takes to make a living in that field.
What are your expectations for students in your classroom?
That they read over the material for that day before class, that they come on time, only use electronic devices for class related things, that they are focused and that they try to participate at least once each day.
What are the most common mistakes that students make?
Students usually try to transpose English grammar onto French. In terms of logistical errors, they often wait too long to begin an assignment and run into technical difficulties at the last minute.
What should I be studying to be successful on assignments in this class?
Examples of the vocabulary or verbs in the context of full sentences. Also, the pronunciation of those words, which available in our online text.
How do you define learning?
Learning can mean simply absorbing new information (like memorization), but mastery requires repetition, and manipulating the new information in different contexts to really become familiar with it.
How do you define teaching?
For me, teaching is guiding students through new concepts, highlighting areas that are common sources of difficulty, and choosing the right kind of practice environment for students to interact with new concepts.
What subject was most difficult for you as a college student and why?
Introductory Chemistry. I accidentally signed up for chem for pre-med students. It was also at 8AM three days a week.
What non-academic skill do you think is the most important for college students?
Either time management or being able to identify one’s own weaknesses and to ask for help when it is needed.
What is the greatest non-academic skill that college students today lack?
How can college students develop this skill at Clemson University?
I think any student anywhere can develop this skill, it is just about showing respect and that you took the time to write out your correspondence thoughtfully when communicating with professors.
After asking her all these questions I realized that professors are just normal people just like us. They do have lives other than school and they have lots of struggles just like us. I also learned that my french professor isn't that much different from me. We share the same things that we like to do in our free time. We also share the same interests. Also, she gave me great advice to remember as I go along with my college education. Also something that she taught me was to keep my options open and not cut any options out instantly and test out different things in your job field to see which one is the best one for you. This was one of my favorite outcomes because of what it taught me.