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UMFK TO OFFER INTEGRATED FRENCH AND EDUCATION PROGRAM TO PREPARE STUDENTS FOR CAREERS AS FRENCH TEACHERS

February 8, 2008

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The University of Maine at Fort Kent will offer an integrated French-language Education program this fall, which will allow students to train to become French teachers in one of the only true, French-speaking regions of the United States, it was announced today.  

The four-year baccalaureate program will allow students to complete a major in French and a minor in Education; each tailored specifically to French teachers.  Students also will complete a semester of student teaching and graduate with a teaching certificate in French.  

The program was developed by Dr. Bruno Hicks, chairperson of UMFK’s Education division, and Dr. Katharine Harrington, assistant professor of French.  The program is offered, partly, in response to the critical need for language teachers in both the Unites States and Canada.  

“This program is central to this institution. The Madawaska Training School -- today’s UMFK -- was established in 1878 to provide bi-lingual teachers to serve the people of this region who spoke French. Today the preservation of our very special Franco heritage is a central part of our mission; so this program is consistent with both our historical roots and our current mission as a university.” said President Dr. Richard W. Cost.  

“We hope this program will attract students from all over the Northeast who are interested in becoming teachers of French and would like the unique opportunity to study in a community where French is spoken every day,” added Dr. Cost.  

The French-language Education courses will take students out into the field, allowing them the unique experience of conversing in French in the St. John Valley, as well as in neighboring Canada.   

Students will gain first-hand classroom experience team-teaching at local elementary after-school programs. During their senior year, students will conduct student teaching, as well as a senior capstone French curriculum project.   

“We have created this program in response to the current critical need for French teachers in North America. UMFK offers an experience that virtually no other American university can – the opportunity for students to live and study in a living, breathing Francophone community. We intend to give students in this program a French field-studies experience using the entire surrounding area, on both sides of the border, as our classroom,” said Dr. Harrington. 

For their student teaching experience, students may choose to be in a local or Canadian high school, or in a nearby elementary French immersion program. 

The students also will be encouraged to study abroad in Le Mans, France during the spring semester of their junior year in a well-established University of Maine System program.  

Students who already hold a baccalaureate degree may opt for the French-language Education certification track. That intensive one-and-a-half-year program will allow students to complete coursework both in Education, as well as advanced French courses, with an emphasis on the North American francophone experience.  

Students will have field experiences in the local francophone community; teach in a French after-school program; and complete a semester of student teaching.  

UMFK has several scholarships available to students who come to the St. John Valley to study French, and the local advocacy group, Le Club Français, also offers a scholarship to all Valley students who major or minor in French. Located on the international border with a francophone region of Canada, and in a bilingual community, UMFK is the ideal place to study the vibrant, living French language and culture of North America. 

UMFK also is home to the Acadian Archives /Archives acadiennes, a regional history and cultural archives operated by the University.  

The Archives was established in 1989 by an act of the Maine State Legislature and opened to the public in July 1991.  Its mission is to document, preserve, celebrate, and disseminate information about the history and cultural heritage of Maine's Saint John Valley.

The Valley borders a 70-mile stretch of the Saint John River along the international boundary between the United States and Canada. Settled in the 1780s, it is home to a predominantly French population which traces its roots to Acadia and Québec. The Archives offers services in both English and French.  

For further information about UMFK’s French-language Education program, please contact Dr. Katharine Harrington, at 834-7629.