Featured Bilingual Bronco: Justin Snyder, French Major

Meet Justin Snyder, a French Major at Boise State. After graduating from Boise State, Justin will be opening and acting as director of Le Soleil, the first French immersion preschool and daycare in the Treasure Valley. Justin shared with us some of his insights on learning French at Boise State, and where language studies can take students in their studies and futures.

How has learning French impacted your view of the French Speaking world?
Learning French has given me a lot more context into learning about other cultures, not just French that we think of as a French class going to visit the Eiffel Tower and that kind of thing, but especially here at Boise State there’s been a really good focus on learning about Francophone culture outside of France. We’re learning about the Caribbean French-speaking world, learning about the African French-speaking world, the Canadian French-speaking world.  By 2040, French is going to be spoken by almost a billion people in the world and there are a lot of different cultures besides European cultures to learn about. It’s really kind of opened my eyes to that and made me more understanding and acceptive to learning about cultures that are pretty much polar opposite and very different from my own culture.

Has learning French helped you in other aspects of your life? What are some benefits to learning French?

Learning French has really helped me in more aspects than just learning another language. Learning how to speak a second language or third or fourth can help your mind’s elasticity and helps you to learn about all kinds of other things. There’s a ton of research out there that shows that folks that can speak two languages or more well are actually better with math. They’re better at problem-solving. They’re better at all kinds of different things, so the benefit of learning a language is more than just cultural, more than just linguistic. To me, it has really helped my ability to write in English. I think that because I’ve learned other languages I’ve been able to study better in my own native tongue.

What do you like about the French Program at Boise State?

I think what I like the best about the French program here at Boise State is that it is pretty varied in what we’re able to study, especially once we get into the higher level classes. In the 300 and 400 level French classes, you can really take some very interesting classes that aren’t necessarily about the French language but that are in French. I’ve taken a lot of classes that studied Women’s role in literature or women’s role in film, for example. There’s also a program where we learn about culture outside of France. “France Today” or “The Francophone World Today,” are different classes that we offer here and that were some of my favorite classes learning about history and today’s world. So to me, it’s a really great program. It also helped open my mind in a lot of other classes. I always seem to find that whatever subject I’m looking at in a French class translates to something that’s in another class that I’m taking. Be that anthropology, be that linguistics, be that any other classes that wouldn’t necessarily have to do with French. I’m finding a lot of overlap there that really gives me a perspective that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t take the French classes.

Why would you recommend the French Program?

The professors here at Boise State are some of my favorite professors that I’ve ever had in the French program. They are well-educated, and they really take time to bring a component to class that you wouldn’t necessarily have with a lot of traditional professors. You’re really thinking outside of the box, and to me, that really helps me to learn the language when you have to look at it from many different angles.

Why did you decide to open a preschool?

The reason I decided to start Le Soleil preschool is, well, there are numerous reasons. First of all, there’s a larger than you would expect French-speaking community here in Boise. We have a lot of refugees that come from French-speaking countries in Africa and elsewhere. As well as a lot of people from France, Switzerland, that move here that speak French. I want to help support that community.

What advice do you have for incoming perspective Foreign Language students?

My advice to any incoming language student would be to start now! Do your best, even when it is frustrating. Even when you really don’t want to or don’t know how try to use the language that you’re learning! From my experience, even if I’m going to mess it up, that’s how I’m going to get feedback to do it correctly next time. Because language is about expressing yourself, it is about being who you are. You need to do that, to have thoughts, and to share those thoughts and express things that are important to you otherwise why learn a language?

Anything else you’d like to share?

The Boise State French program has really helped me to understand what I want to do with my life, it has kind of directed me into my chosen career path and for that, I’m really thankful and I’m really happy that I have attended Boise State. If you’re able to, I really recommend taking a second language. Even if you’re going to double major I think it is more than worth it!