1/ Language learning
At ENSTA Bretagne, students learn 2 compulsory foreign languages, with the option of adding a 3rd through night classes. English, the international language of business, is compulsory for all students. Starting in 1st year, students prepare to achieve a certification level that will allow them to work in an English-speaking professional environment upon graduation.
In language classes (including French as a Foreign Language), students study and compare cultures while overcoming stereotypes.
"For several years now, language teachers have been integrating an intercultural aspect into their teaching. For example, in French as a Foreign Language classes, we invite students to compare the traditions, customs, organization and so on. of their country with those they have encountered in France" explains Catherine Adam, ENSTA Bretagne research professor.
2/ Intercultural communication and management
Students can opt to take the Intercultural Management module. Classes in this module are compulsory for non-francophone students and cover the French education system, engineering careers in France, communication in French culture, and more. They aim to equip students early on for careers in France, for example by assisting them in preparing assignments such as reports and oral examinations.
"Our goal is to develop the intercultural skills that engineers need to work in multicultural environments. If someone has a professional meeting with a Japanese company and has failed to take cultural aspects into account when preparing for it, they risk having several negative interactions within the first 10 seconds," explains Christophe Morace, who manages these classes.
Businesses and certification organizations (Conférence des Grandes Écoles, Commission des Titres d'Ingénieurs) also understand what's at stake in terms of interculturality.
"There are high expectations in this area. The subject is complex and fundamental. Sometimes people say that you have to experience this kind of professional situation first-hand to understand multicultural issues. However, we believe it's important to prepare students during their education to give them the keys to their success and that of their employers."
ENSTA Bretagne Human and Social Sciences Department research professor Christophe Morace has been studying this subject since 2009. He was employed in Germany’s industrial sector for almost ten years.