“I believe that speaking another language, accessing an Other's culture, is discovering one's own alterity. Thus, language learning is one of the shortest ways towards altruism.”
Sarah Atji Civil
French Visiting Instructor, Language House Co-directorFrench
Born and raised in the Paris region of France, Sarah considers herself a pure product of today's contemporary French culture: a multicultural individual built by a history of migrations and globalization. This very identity she understood through her studies and professional career in education. Starting well before she earned a Bachelor degree in Anglophone Languages, Literatures and Civilizations, she has always been interested in the Humanities as a whole. For her first year of a two-year Masters's degree, she studied and taught French at Wesleyan University where she discovered a passion for cultural studies and cross-cultural exchanges. More specifically, she explored issues about race, gender and sexuality, and conducted a research on the Black body aesthetics and the re-appropriation of the body in African-American twentieth century literature. Even today, she keeps considering these scholarly spheres as fluid themes, with unlimited intellectual possibilities and which can be fully considered in a language class. She then specialized in Education Sciences, with an emphasis on foreign language. With her Masters' degree, she was able to pass the CAPES, a national competitive examination leading to the position of high school English teacher. While enjoying teaching to multiple social backgrounds French students, she also worked for IFE (Institute for Field Education) as a Study Abroad Program Coordinator and French Instructor. This latter position enabled her to serve American college students, including Goucher College students on study abroad in Paris, France. These experiences allowed her to develop solid intercultural skills. This is part of what she wants to pass on effectively as an instructor. As a foreign language instructor and cultural advisor between French and English, and mostly between the U.S and France, she has constantly switched from one mode of comprehension to another and she has thus come to understand to what extent linguistics is the very vehicle of identity. Besides, her passion for and experience in theater also influence her practice as a foreign language professional. As part of a theater group company, she has trained and performed on stage. She has directed drama workshops both on the secondary and higher education levels. Through them, she explores body, verbal and non-verbal expression, interculturality, and common representations of the world to facilitate the acquisition of a foreign language, as well as pathways to making people better collaborators, community members, colleagues, co-workers and, hopefully, global citizens.