Placement Test for Entering Students
All students who have previously studied French are required to take the French Placement Test. Based on their results, students are placed into the most appropriate course, from the elementary to the advanced level. Students who have not taken French before and who begin their study of the language in their first semester at Grinnell are eligible for study abroad in France and can complete a major in French.
Introductory Level (French 101, 102, 103)
The introductory courses prepare students in the fundamental skills of oral and written expression and comprehension. By the end of these courses, students will be able to communicate with a French speaker in the context of daily life. All three courses are conducted in French and meet five times a week. French 101 (Fall only): This course is designed for complete beginners. The course uses the video/audio-based method French in Action (lessons 1-20). On Thursdays, students work in small practice groups led by teaching assistants. With its emphasis on authentic cultural exchange, basic grammar and idiomatic expressions, this course is designed to be an exciting and dynamic way to begin the study of French. French 102 (Spring only): This course is the continuation of French 101 and covers lessons 21-40 of French in Action. French 103 (Fall only): This course is an accelerated introduction to French designed for students who have already studied some French. It covers the equivalent of French 101 and 102 in a single semester and emphasizes communicative practice, cultural context, and basic grammar. The course is not open to students who have taken French 102. Students considering studying abroad should begin in French 103 rather than 101, whenever possible.
Intermediate Level (French 221, 222, 201)
The intermediate courses strengthen the fundamental skills of communication, while introducing students to historical topics and to the analysis of literary and cultural material. Incoming students often begin at this level. French 221 (Fall and Spring): French 221 emphasizes oral and written skills at the intermediate level. The in-depth review of grammatical topics and the integrated approach to the reading of short texts is designed to develop greater confidence and accuracy in reading, writing, and discussion. French 222 (Fall and Spring): This course offers a review of grammar, with emphasis on the development of speaking, writing and analytical skills at the upper-intermediate level. It features readings of greater length and complexity than those studied in French 221. The topic of Occupation and Resistance in France during World War II provides the central theme for the exploration of literary texts, historical documents, and films, and serves as the focus of analysis, discussion, and composition. French 201 (Fall and Spring): This 1-credit speaking unit (informal French conversation) is open only to students concurrently enrolled in a French course at the 200- or 300-level. It may be taken only once for credit and must be taken for a grade. French 201 is conducted by the French Assistant and meets twice a week for 50 minutes.
Advanced Level (300-Level Courses and Seminars, Mentored Advanced Projects)
At the advanced level, students can explore historical, cultural, and literary topics. Students in the civilization courses (French 303, 304, 305) look at key historical figures and events in order to understand the diverse ways in which French-speaking societies view themselves. The survey-of-literature courses (French 312, 313) examine literary movements and authors from the Middlel Ages to the present, while French 301 offers students the opportunity to do advanced work in oral and written expression. The seminars (327, 328, 329, 330, 331, 341, 342, 350, 395) give students the opportunity to to engage in in-depth analysis of a broad range of subjects related to diverse regions of the French-speaking world.
French 301: Advanced Oral and Written Expression
French 303: French Civilization I: Sites of Myth and Memory
French 304: French Civilization II: Revolutions and Identities
French 305: Contemporary Francophone Cultures
French 312: Introduction to French Literature from the Middle Ages to the Revolution: From Knights to Libertines
French 313: Introduction to French Literature of the 19th and 20th Centuries: Literary Revolutions
French 395 Special TopicsCourses
Recent topics examiend in French 395 and 350 include:
- American Stories
- Post-colonial Identities
- Contemporary Urban Myths
- 1968 and Beyond
- Courtship and Conversation in French Literature
- From Decolonization to "La France Plurielle"
Most French courses include the study of film. The French Department has an extension collection of documentaries and films, most of which are also available in Burling Library.