Feb. 9, 2017

French Centre turns 40 / Le Centre français fête ses 40 ans

Since 1976 the Centre has been at the heart of learning for students of French at UCalgary
Two women sit on chairs facing each other. One is holding a laptop in her lap. They are smiling.
Since 1976 the Centre has been at the heart of learning for students of French at the University of

This year the French Centre celebrates 40 years of learning, community and culture. Begun in 1976 with a $1,500 government grant and the simple idea to provide a welcoming space for French learners on campus, today the Centre boasts credit courses and non-credit workshops, a weekly cinémathèque, French immersion weekends in Kananaskis, a speaker series, a Wordfest event in French, and more.

Since its inception the French Centre has continued to support and promote the French language and French and Francophone cultures and literatures. Their government grant has grown throughout the years as offerings have adapted to students’ needs. In addition to a series of credit courses taught in French in various disciplines across campus, the Centre also hosts Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF)/ Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF) workshops and examination sessions, assessor training workshops and a drop-in centre for students and francophiles alike. Their French language resource website, Repsit, is used the world over for its language acquisition offerings. An annual $7,500 scholarship enables a student to spend a year studying in a Francophone university in Québec, and an experiential field course in Montréal and Québec allows students to study language, literature and culture in an immersion setting.

Students benefit from the opportunity to grow in their understanding of French language and culture while professionalizing their degrees. Many graduate students of Francophone studies have received DELF/DALF assessment accreditation, which allows them to assess students during exams at the French Centre, for the Calgary Board of Education and elsewhere. Several Graduate students have held Graduate Assistantships with the French Centre, where they help prepare students for DELF/DALF oral exams, perform their own research enriching the film and music collection, and manage the weekly cinémathèque, which was itself initiated by a graduate student.

Historically the French Centre has hosted Québec students wishing to learn English through the Summer Language Bursary Program (now Explore).

To celebrate its anniversary, the French Centre has planned several events throughout the semester. On Jan. 19, it hosted Dr. Lori Saint-Martin, professor at the Université du Québec à Montréal, writer, translator, and three-time Governor General Award recipient, who gave a talk entitled “Mon voyage vers le français: parcours d’une auteure-traductrice”. The well-attended talk was followed by a reception which included several long serving members and friends of the French Centre. Dr. Éric Mathieu of the University of Ottawa spoke about his first novel Les suicidés d’Eau-Claire on Feb. 2. The Centre is also planning the Festival du film d’éducation on March 24 during International Francophone Week. In honour of the French Centre’s 40th anniversary, long-time friends and benefactors of the Centre are invited to contribute to the French Centre Scholarship for Study in Quebec, please contact Danielle Christensen at dchriste@ucalgary.ca or 403-220-8291. 

To read and hear more about the French Centre 40th anniversary celebrations, please refer to press coverage by Radio-Canada’s Téléjournal and Café Show and CJSW’s French Transe en dance with host Gilles Mossière.

The French Centre thanks Canadian Heritage and Alberta Advanced Education for their unfailing support over the last 40 years. Thanks also to The Faculty of Arts, Continuing Education and to all those, near and far, who have participated in this enriching journey.