On a chilly morning in November, Jessica Savage ‘15 sat down in her advanced French creative writing class at Colorado College and began to compose a fictional essay in French. Although Savage is as competent in expressing her ideas in French as the rest of the students are, one thing separates her from everyone else: Savage is the only freshman in the classroom.
Savage attributes her advanced linguistic skills to taking French for 13 years at Hockaday and culminating her high school career with the Business French course.
Established in 2008 by Upper School French teacher Catherine Berryman, the Business French class teaches students grammatical concepts and vocabulary that are relevant in a professional setting.
After witnessing Berryman teach the course, Upper School French teacher Mollie Monaco published an article on Nov. 9 about the course in “The Language Educator,” a magazine published by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Monaco wrote the article to spread the word about the singularity and practicality of the Business French course, which is unique to Hockaday.
“I wanted to write about the Business French course because there are no other schools in the area that offer a course like it,” Monaco said. “I loved the practicality of the course and the fact that it prepares you for French courses taken at the university level.”
This article put the Business French course at Hockaday in the spotlight at a national level. After Monaco published the article, the foreign language departments at St. John’s School in Houston and Greater Latrobe Senior High School in Latrobe, Pa., contacted Monaco and Berryman to explore the possibility of offering the Business French course at their respective schools.
“The representatives asked me about the Business French curriculum and when girls would normally take the course in their sequence of language study,” Berryman said.
Berryman developed this course to allow students to take an exam and earn the Diplôme de Français Professionnel, a certification that is only offered at the university level and affirms that the speaker can converse in a business setting.
Though all Business French students take the certification exam to earn the Diplôme de Français Professionnel, the goal of the class is not to simply pass the exam, but to learn vocabulary and grammar useful in a variety of business settings.
For this reason, Business French covers essential skills such as learning how to answer a phone, composing emails and reading articles related to business, economics and finance.
“I want girls to know how to function in a business French setting so that they can put it on their resume when looking for a job,” Berryman said. “Ultimately, I want girls to be able to feel confident in expressing their ideas when they go to a French-speaking country.”
Savage, who took the Business French course as a senior at Hockaday, plans to pursue a major in French and eventually become a nurse who can converse in French with her patients.
“I’m interested in medicine, psychology and French, but I also want to connect with patients, so this career would be my goal,” Savage said.
Because of the writing and speaking proficiency skills she gleaned from the course, Savage feels grateful for the opportunity and recognizes that being able to take Business French at Hockaday is a privilege.
“The fact that we’re the only high school in America that offers the Business French course is something very special,” Savage said. “[It’s] something that we shouldn’t take for granted.”