As a teacher, I strive to achieve a fruitful balance between my European formation, subject-based and attentive to structure and form, and its North-American development, learner-based, pragmatic and open to flexibility. Whenever feasible, in order to provide fuller cultural snapshots, my courses take students off the beaten path, blending classics and lesser-known cultural items that also resonate through society. With due regards to course needs, I enjoy enhancing instruction with hands-on activities, such as facsimile document translation (publisher catalogs, travel/official brochures, comics), webzine publishing, and film subtitling and overdubbing (fiction and documentary). I don’t, however, need elaborate setups for productive teaching sessions. In the end, your voice and writing materials are all you really need. I am grateful for the support I received during my visiting positions at Vassar College and St. Mary’s College of Maryland. Here is a sample of what I taught at Northern Illinois University. I redeveloped some existing courses to broaden their links to professional applications, all the while providing solid theoretical foundations. Blue denotes courses and activities I created for the Department of Foreign Languages & Literatures:

Focus on language acquisition

  • FLFR 101 – Beginning French 1
  • FLFR 102 – Beginning French 2
  • FLFR 201 – Intermediate French 1
  • FLFR 202 – Intermediate French 2

Focus on techniques

  • FLFR 302 – Grammar and translation
  • FLFR 311 & 312 – French conversation
  • FLFR 320 – Analyse de texte (text analysis; Poetry/Theater/Prose/Graphic novel/Film)
  • FLFR 480/580 – French publishing atelier– See PerspectivesLe magazine du cours FLFR480-580 de NIU
  • FLFR 481/581 – French phonetics and phonemics
  • FLFR 483/583 – Thème et version (Literary translation; includes workshops on film subtitling and overdubbing)
  • FLFR 484/584 – Non-literary translation (includes workshops on film subtitling and overdubbing and on the use of professional translating software Trados)

Focus on culture & literature 

  • FLFR 371 – French literature in translation
  • FLFR 412 – Français des affaires (French for business)
  • FLFR 415 – Contemporary French
  • FLST 435/535 – Special Topics: La modernité à l’ère du train à vapeur (modernity in the age of the steam engine)
  • FLST 482/540 – Special Topics: Réel et réalisme au dix-neuvième siècle (real and realism in the nineteenth century)
  • FLST 482/540 – Author in Context: Le siècle de Nadar (Nadar’s century)
  • FLST 482/582 – La bande dessinée d’expression française (the French-language comic strip)

Trivia: Would you have guessed that satire of gimmicks in teaching already existed as early as the 1830s, and in comic-strip form, no less? It comes from Rodolphe Töpffer, himself an educator and proponent of such progressive approaches to teaching in his time as hands-on experience of nature and image-based education of the illiterate. He started out as a schoolteacher, became the director of a boarding school, and eventually the first professor of rhetoric at the Geneva Academy. Today, outside of his native Switzerland, he is mostly recognized as the “father of the comic strip.”

Rodolphe Töpffer. Histoire de Mr Crépin. 1837. Gallica.

Rodolphe Töpffer. Histoire de Mr Crépin, 1837 (Aubert pirated edition). Source: Gallica.


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