TAMIU Expands to French for Spring

Ready for the Global Marketplace:
TAMIU Expands Spring
Language Offerings to French

With an eye to providing students with additional language strengths for the global market and the curious with new opportunities, Texas A&M International University is adding French to its Spring academic offerings.

The initiative will be lead by Dr. Annette Olsen-Fazi, TAMIU associate professor of English and French.  Dr. Olsen-Fazi holds four degrees from French universities.  She said she believes Laredo students have a distinct advantage in acquiring language skills.

"Those who are already Spanish speakers will be able to tap into similarities with the French language, and also recall cultural and historical legacies that united Mexico, Texas, and France and that, in some instances, they still share," Olsen-Fazi said.

For example, a relationship between France and Mexico can be dated to Mexico's defeat of France in the Battle of Puebla (1862), today commemorated by Cinco de Mayo. Although Napoleon subsequently installed his protégé, Maximillian, as emperor in Mexico City from 1864-1867, the earlier victory of 400 Mexican amateur fighters over 6000 professional French soldiers remains impressive.

Despite being an imposed ruler, Maximillian was well liked for his liberal thinking and is known to have had great affection for Mexico and its people.  Dark-eyed empress Carlota was admired for her great beauty. The couple's hand is seen to this day in architectural projects undertaken to beautify the capitol, including expansion of the famed Chapultepec Castle, now home to the National Museum of History.

Olsen-Fazi said even the familiar word "mariachi" is considered by some to have French origins.

"While there appears to be some enduring controversy over whether the word comes from the French 'mariage,' we can trace 'barbacoa' to the French 'barbe à la queue,' which means 'from beard to tail,' the customary French way of roasting an entire steer or sheep on a spit over a roaring fire," she explained.

"And, of course, to this day, Paris remains the favored honeymoon destination of young Mexican couples and French food, fashion, perfume, cosmetics, and wine are highly prized by Mexican professionals and all connoisseurs of good living," she noted.

As for the French connection to Texas, a French nobleman, Sieur De La Saller, planted the French flag in East Texas 1685-1690, founding Fort St. Louis, named in honor of the French regent.  Although the colony was ill-fated and De La Saller murdered by one of his men, the French banner, a field of gold fleurs-de-lys on a white background, is today one of six flags that wave over Texas.

Later, Privateer Jean Lafitte occupied Galveston Island 1817-1820, making it a base for his smuggling operations and naming his home, 'La Maison Rouge,' of  'The Red House,' in ironic counterpart to the President's home in Washington, D.C.

Olsen-Fazi, who joined the University this Fall, holds her Ph.D. in Anglo-American Studies from the Université Paul Valéry in Montepellier, France.  She also holds a post-graduate degree in semiotics and contemporary French theory from the Université de Nice/Sophia Antipolis.  Her BA and MA degrees in English were also earned at the Université de Nice. She holds a BAAS from Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.

She said the addition of a second or third language can enhance all lives.

"From students who will be better equipped to address the global job marketplace to the curious who are just interested in expanding their cultural awareness, learning a new language can engage, inform, and absolutely delight," she noted.

Olsen-Fazi's ultimate goal is to build a comprehensive French program at TAMIU, allowing her to take groups of students, alumni and community members on summer trips to France and Quebec for cultural and linguistic immersion.

"My dream," she said, "would be a tour of castles, restaurants, vineyards and museums, coupled with intensive French courses."

The University will offer French 1 on Friday afternoons from 4:30-7 p.m. and French II on Saturday mornings from 9-11:30 a.m.  An intensive three-week course in French II will also be offered in May.

Online Registration for Spring 2006 is underway.

For more information, contact the Registrar's Office at 326.2250, visit offices in the Sue and Radcliffe Killam Library room 168 or e-mail registrar@tamiu.edu

Olsen-Fazi can also be contacted by calling 326.2457 or e-mailing aolsen-fazi@tamiu.edu

Spring Classes begin Friday, Jan. 13, 2006

Registrar's office hours are Monday and Tuesday from 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Wednesday and Thursdays from 8 a.m. - 7 p.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Journalists who need additional information or help with media requests and interviews should contact the Office of Public Relations, Marketing and Information Services at prmis@tamiu.edu