• French_Hero_1.jpg
  • French_Hero_2.jpg
  • French_Hero_3.jpg
  • French_Hero_4.jpg
  • Hero_0000_Layer 4.jpg
  • Hero_0001_Layer 3.jpg
  • Hero_0002_Layer 2.jpg
  • Hero_0003_Layer 1.jpg
You are here: Home / Spotlights / CEN Spotlights / Ashley Clauer

Ashley Clauer

Ashley Clauer
Up one level
Ashley Clauer

Hometown: State College, PA
Major: World Language Education (French)

How did you learn about this opportunity?

Given that I have a major in World Language Education, it is required for me to spend a semester studying abroad. Knowing that from the beginning of my first year at Penn State, I tried to get as much input as I could in order to ensure that I was picking the program that was best for me. I spoke to three advisors: Dr. Heather McCoy in the Department of French and Francophone Studies, Ms. Kathleen Shannon in the College of Education, and an advisor in the Global Programs office. I also spoke with a few different students who were past participants of the program, all of whom spoke very highly of their experience in Montpellier. I also did research online on the Global Programs website to read about what types of classes were offered, if there was a homestay option, and how the costs differed.

Tell us a little bit about your experience.

This semester, I am studying abroad in Montpellier, France. The program I am participating in is run through the University of Minnesota, although there are students from a wide variety of universities here that are participating in the program. There were two options I could choose from: Integrated Studies or Language and Culture. I chose Integrated Studies, which allows me to take classes with French students at Paul Valèry University. Due to the courses offered and what I found interesting, I am only taking one integrated course and four courses that are specifically designed for American students.

In addition, I am living with a host family in the suburb of Le Crès. My host parents are both elementary school teachers and are incredibly patient with my developing language skills. They have also gone out of their way to ensure that I experience traditional French dishes and see some of the local sites.

I have had the opportunity to travel to several different places throughout France and Europe and am looking forward to even more traveling before I leave in a month. I have been to Paris, Brussels, Toulouse, Nice, Venice, Rome, Chamonix, and Marseille, along with many other places. I am most looking forward to my trip to Morocco in the beginning of May that has been organized through my program here.

"I think this semester has given me an invaluable insight into the cultural differences and the values that drive those differences. I will definitely use my experiences in my future classroom to help my students understand French culture."

How did this experience impact you academically?

I came to France with the main goal of improving my proficiency in the French language. Many of my classes have helped me with that, especially my phonetics class here. In taking phonetics here with a French professor, I have pinpointed some pronunciation errors that I have been continuously making and have learned how to correct them. In addition, living with a host family has been incredibly helpful. They will always make sure to include me in conversation and help me develop my vocabulary. They also will gently make corrections when I make grammatical mistakes. I have noticed that, over the last few months, my comprehension level has increased and I can respond quicker as well.

What are your career goals or plans? How did this experience impact them?

Given that I want to be a French teacher at the secondary level, the language skills that I have developed here are essential to my career goals. However, I have also had the opportunity to learn about the French culture from being immersed in it daily and getting to know the French people. I think this semester has given me an invaluable insight into the cultural differences and the values that drive those differences. I will definitely use my experiences in my future classroom to help my students understand French culture beyond all of the stereotypes that exist. If anything, this semester has reinforced my desire to share my passion for the French language with my future students.