Adam Dingman’s love for the French language began when he was in elementary school — long before most students started to think about their college plans.
Between first and fourth grade, his school years were divided into trimesters devoted to Spanish, French and Japanese, respectively. By the time he entered fifth grade, Dingman knew that he wanted to continue studying French in middle and high school.
After he entered high school, he participated in a nine-day exchange trip with a school in France during his sophomore year, after which he knew he wanted to study French in college.
When Dingman arrived at Wake Forest, he was surprised to learn that the university lacked one important thing. He said that when he and a friend attended the student activities fair at the beginning of his first semester, they were disappointed to not find a club for French students.
As a result, Dingman started what he said was an arduous process of applying for a university charter. They successfully obtained a charter the fall of his sophomore year, and in the years since, Dingman has focused on expanding and developing the club. For example, the French Club introduced conversation hours, during which students from all levels of French gather to practice their language skills.
Dingman said that he and his fellow club members made an effort to use the conversation hours to discuss topics that might not be brought up in the classroom; for example, a popular conversation hour this year focused on slang, swear words and French colloquialisms.
According to Professor of French Studies Kendall Tarte, “Adam has organized wonderful activities for our students like French conversation hours at Campus Grounds, crêpe making parties and other interactive events … [He] is devoted to French — he has a real love for the language and culture.”
Professor Véronique McNelly also commented on Dingman’s dedication. “A model Wake Forest student, Adam is diligent, dedicated, generous with his time, community-oriented and yet outward-looking,” she said.
Tarte noted that she accompanied Dingman to the Elon University Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures last fall, where he presented his research in French on perceptions of immigrants in France.
Dingman has also extensively practiced his love for the language far from the Reynolda Campus. He studied in France twice during his tenure at Wake Forest, once in Tours for six weeks during the summer after his freshman year and once in Dijon for a full semester.
He said that a memorable aspect of his abroad experience was witnessing the 2016 presidential election in a foreign country and discussing his thoughts and observations with his host parents. Dingman studied with students from all over the world — such as Japan, Scandinavia and Iraq — and found it interesting to discuss politics with them.
He was also in France while the country prepared for an election of its own between political newcomer and now-President Emmanuel Macron and far-right French National Front candidate Marine Le Pen.
Next year, Dingman will teach English in France through a French Ministry of Education assistantship awarded to American students and designed to strengthen English-language instruction in French schools as well as intercultural understanding.
“One day, he will make a wonderful teacher of French,” McNelly said.