Archive for courses in English

a journal of the plague year² [new semester looming]

Posted in Books, Kids, pictures, Travel, Wines with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 2, 2021 by xi'an

Returned from Corsica with two relaxed weeks where hardly anyone was anywhere in Paris, including the University. Which made plenty of room for preparing the incoming lectures of my undergraduate course (in Paris), cleaning our garden (and saving tons kilos of tomatoes from mildew into tomato sauce),

and cutting some of the fast-invading pumpkin vines,and finishing reviews of grants, papers and PhD theses.

Still some time for reading, including the very final volume of the Yalta Boulevard series, Victory Square, which sticks rather closely to the fall of the Ceausescu regime (a proximity acknowledged by the author), but also contains shocking (to me) revelations and some somewhat unrealistic foreign excursions. Nonetheless enjoyable enough to see the quintet as a formidable collection. Also read a short book on the non-elucidated murder of a Moroccan worker in Corsica, Les Invisibles, which I had bought while there. The style is a bit heavy and journalistic, and it certainly does not avoid clichés, but the report on the exploitation of North Africa seasonal workers by vegetable producers there is gripping (if reproducing identical patterns seen from Andalusia to Puglia…)

Watched two Kenshin movies [out of five] as well as some bits of the hilarious and rather silly very light Mystic Pop-up Bar series [with a lot of fast-forwards during my watch]. At the start, Kenshin is a prolific manga series set at the emergence of the Meiji era, series that ran from 1994 to  1999. And following a swordsman, Hitokiri Battōsai, who reminded me  (to some extent) of the 16th century samurai Miyamoto Musashi.

on-line course

Posted in Kids, pictures, Statistics, University life with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 4, 2020 by xi'an

Since this teaching semester is 100% on-line in Paris Dauphine for the third year students, I started last Monday to teach my statistical modelling course from my office on my computer. Using a Teams connection with the 180⁺ students,  sharing my slides or my webcam with them, and writing on a Huion drawing tablet to write on the pdf slides (or on Teams whiteboard). I found the most convenient way to write on the slides was via Xournalpp. From my end of the exchange, the class went on rather smoothly, with students interacting about the practical and contents of the course. As I have also recorded my lectures (in August), and hope the students to first go through the recordings, I will see next time how much effort they have put into assimilating the material, as the on-line class will mostly concentrate on questions and applications. I also hope to have a quick multiple choice question at the end (or beginning?) of each class, but am still fishing for an interface that would (a) handle LaTeX or MathJax (b) shuffle questions from a pool of questions so that each student gets a different question (or thinks so) and (c) store the outcome of the test. Any suggestion welcome!

English courses again

Posted in Books, Kids, Travel, University life with tags , , , , , on June 9, 2013 by xi'an

In the science leaflet of Le Monde, Marco Zito—a particle physics researcher at CEA—dedicated his weekly tribune to the issue of teaching some courses in English in French universities, “cours en “globish”? Non, merci” being the title of this very poor contribution to the on-going debate… A wee tad late, as the change in the law had already been voted by the French parliament. Francophile readers can judge of the relevance of his arguments against teaching in English by themselves, but I do find them rather poor: first, French students are poorly trained in English; this is the fault of the secondary school system and addressing this handicap is outside the purposes and goals of universities. Wow! Replace English with maths and repeat the sentence. Sounds stupid, right?! If students have deficiencies when they enter the university, those should be addressed, full stop. Furthermore, learning English through a topic of their choice should provide a better motivation for the students than reading dull newspaper extracts as they do in secondary school (where language teaching is indeed appalling). Second, having courses in English would favour higher class kids and reinforce our “société à deux vitesses”. Re-wow! We are in  May…2013, right?! I had not read this kind of crypto-Marxist drivel for ages and, apart from reminding me of goode olde days, it sounds so lame. On the one hand, the kids of the most favoured parts of French society avoid universities as much as possible: they go to grandes écoles or abroad, in places where teaching in English is already implemented. Refusing to train the scions of less favoured parts of French society towards a better English proficiency is increasing the “big divide”. (And this is certainly the least of the barriers facing those entering the French university without the rule book.) The second part of the tribune is even weirder, if completely unrelated to the current debate: Zito starts arguing about the lack of neutrality of a given language, even in hard sciences, and then suddenly switches to the social awakening brought by Renaissance intellectuals writing in the vernacular (rather than Latin). Concluding that moving to courses taught in English (or “globish”) would bring us several centuries back. Just plain ridiculous.