My Launch into the World of French Radio

Authored by:
CIEE Rennes

CIEE Rennes

We are a small but mighty crew in the radio workshop at CIREFE, the international school of Université Rennes 2. From an outsider perspective, it may sound like we’re just joking around and having conversations while we happen to be in front of microphones, but in reality…well, actually, that’s exactly what we’re doing. 

Ok, let’s back up. In studying abroad in France for a semester, I knew that I would be improving my French skills. A skill I didn’t expect to learn? How to create a radio show. 

When starting classes at the international school, I was excited to learn that the school puts on weekly workshops for various kinds of art, including theater, film, music, singing, translation, and of course, the star of this article: radio. I had never tried out radio before, but I thought, hey, why not try something new while I’m in France? At least if I’m fantastically bad at it, no one will remember after this semester (probably).

Speaking French? Daunting. Creating a radio show? Daunting. Creating a radio show IN French? You can imagine my nerves. The first day I was supposed to go to the radio workshop, I actually chickened out. I walked by and, seeing that there was only one person in the classroom thus far, kept on walking. However, the following week I put aside my fears and walked into the classroom, and I have been so glad that I did since.

First of all, it was clear right from the start that everyone was there to encourage one another and have fun together, and there was absolutely no pressure to learn how to do everything immediately. Secondly, doing the workshop together allowed us to learn things about one another that we wouldn’t have otherwise. I fondly recall doing mini interviews of people in the street and getting to ask them about their hobbies, their music tastes, their dreams – whatever we wanted.

On one particular evening, only me, the workshop host, and one other student were present. Our goal was to talk into the microphones for a longer period of time while responding to prompts on question cards. By the end of the night, I had nearly forgotten that there were microphones in front of us. We got into a long conversation about connections between sound and memory, and our workshop host Pierre shared with us his current project on creating soundscape recordings for people with Alzheimer’s that help them remember details about their lives. That conversation is when radio really clicked for me as a powerful storytelling tool. 

Participating in the radio workshop has allowed me to make unexpected connections and build confidence in myself and my abilities. Besides, if I can improvise in front of a microphone for an hour, that surely means that my French is improving, right? And it’s all thanks to that first - well, second - week, when I decided to take a chance on something new.

So, my advice to you, dear reader, is to take advantage of your time abroad and try something, small or large, that you wouldn’t have imagined yourself doing otherwise. I’m sure you’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you discover.

Elizabeth Rozmanith

Clark University

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