Mrs. Philips-Bourass: A Life of Loving Languages

Mrs. Philips-Bourass  began studying French her freshman year of highschool. Little did she know this would lead her into pursuing a lifleong love of linguistics.

When asked about what lead her into pursuing French as her college major, she cites an immersion program she took in ighschool as the reason:
“In Indiana they had this immersion program where I spent six weeks in France not being able to speak English. That’s sort of what cemented that I came back knowing French.
That’s what lead me into being a French major and then a teacher.”

While in college, she began learning Arabic too. “I wanted to learn like ten languages”, she explains, lauhging, “and then Arabic took like twenty years so I got stuck in Arabic.” However, she doesn’t regret this decision, and received her undergraduate degree in both French, Arabic, and linguistics.

She sutdied linguistics in grad school as well. Initially, she pursued the field because she thought it would help her learn languages better. But, as she explains, “[Linguistics} is a study of languages in theory and not in practice. [..]I know a lot about other languages.”

While lingusitics didn’t help her learn other languages, it did help her find something else…love.
While stuyding abroad in Morocco as part of her graduate program, Mrs. Philips-Bourass met the man whom she would later marry.

Although Morocco is a mostly Arabic speaking country, French and English are commonly taught to schoolchildren. This gave the couple multiple ways t0 communicate. “The first year that we were dating we spoke french. After that, once we realized that we’d be getting engaged and moving to the United
States and that he’d have to take the test of English as a foreign language in order to work here we decided to talk in English so he could improve.” Mrs. Pilips-Bourass explains.

After graduating, the couple moved back to Indiana where they lived for several years. However, the Moroccan community there was extremely small, so when Mrs. Philips-Bourass was offered a position at Bolles, they were glad to move to a city with a larger Arabic community.

Mrs. Philips-Bourass’ studies have enriched her exprerience with other cultures, and she has experience with many different accents. As such, accent “color” is something she feels strongly about. This is shown by the mug she keeps on her desk.

When asked about the mug, she’s stated, “one topic in sociolinguistics is accents and when people talk about vowel color that’s what they’re cueing into when they hear somebody’s accent. […] The whole point is that you shouldn’t judge people by their accents and we use color because it’s a reference to race. So, in the same way that we shouldn’t judge people by the color of their skin we shouldn’t judge people by their accents. That’s what my mug means.”

Mrs. Philips-Bourass ensures that her students are epxosed to a variety of cultures and accents, most often using Morocco and West African countries to teach both French and Arabic. As such, her students benefit from her globally-focused style of teaching.