At the 100-level, we introduce students to the grammatical foundations of the French language while emphasizing the importance of all four skills in language acquisition (speaking, reading, writing, and listening comprehension). We encourage student interaction and conversation at this level and place the study of French in a cultural context.
We offer one intermediate grammar course, FR 215, in which students review and deepen their understanding of grammatical structures. At this level, we ask students to read and write longer passages and to begin engaging with cultural material (films, newspaper articles, short stories) with more sophistication. Also at the 200-level, we offer a sophomore seminar taught in French (FS FRE 201) entitled “Speaking of France Today,” which focuses on contemporary French society and culture. This allows us to have students complete a two-pronged introduction to the major as they are required to complete both this course and an introduction to literary analysis (FR 225). “Speaking of France Today” integrates the oral communication skills of a conversation course into a cultural context and serves as a cultural and linguistic orientation for students planning to study abroad during their third year.
Students continue their language study at the 300-level with two advanced language courses: Advanced Grammar and Composition (FR 300), which focuses on refining grammar and writing style, and Advanced Conversation and Phonetics (FR 305), which is designed to improve students’ pronunciation, conversation skills, and listening comprehension. Also at the 300-level, changes brought to the French curriculum in 2011 included creating a set of three survey courses corresponding to early French literature, literature from the 19th century forward, and Francophone postcolonial literature; and creating a set of three topics classes that can be taught in a variety of ways (e.g. “Stories and Storytelling”). Students are now asked to take two courses from both the survey and topics courses. The 400-level course requirement was eliminated; now students must take four courses at the 300-level in literature and culture, instead of what was previously a two course requirement. This results in broader and deeper examination of French literature and culture.
In the Junior/Senior Seminar (FR 580), our most advanced students engage critically with primary sources as well as secondary sources, such as literary-critical journal articles or historical documents. In anticipation of the senior comprehensive project, we review research methods in this course. At this level, students are expected to be at the advanced level of the ACTFL guidelines in French. At the end of the course, they produce a substantial research paper (10-15 pages), and throughout the semester, they are asked to give oral presentations to the rest of the class.