Studying French at Grinnell
Frequently Asked Questions
Q. If I have already taken some French, how can I find out which Grinnell course I should register for?
A. You should take the placement test during New Student Orientation. Based on your results, you will be placed in the course which is the most appropriate for you.
Q. Should I take the placement test if I do not plan to take French in my freshman year?
A. Yes. Study of a language and knowledge of your language level may prove important when you are being considered for internships, scholarships, Phi Beta Kappa, participation in the Alternate Language Study Option (ALSO), many graduate programs, and other post-graduation options such as the Peace Corps.
Q. I have taken French, but haven’t received a letter telling me to take the placement test. What should I do?
A. The Registrar does not receive everyone’s high-school records by the time we need to send out the placement-test letters. You should come to ARH 302 at 3.15 on the Sunday of New Student Orientation to take the placement test.
Q. What should I do if I have any questions?
A. Members of the department will be available to answer your questions in ARH 330 between 2.30 and 3.00 on the day of the placement test.
Q. How often is the placement test given?
A. Once a year, on the Sunday of New Student Orientation.
Q. Can I register for a French course without taking the placement test?
A. Not unless you have never studied French before. If your high-school records indicate that you have taken French, you need to take the test in order to enrol in a French course.
Q. When and how will I receive the results of the placement test?
A. The results will be posted on the door of ARH 330 around 7.00 on the Sunday evening. The results will also be put in your mailbox on Monday morning and will be sent to your tutorial advisor at the same time.
Q. Will I be able to study in a French-speaking country in my junior year if I am placed into elementary French (FRN 101) in my first semester at Grinnell?
Q. Will I be able to complete a major in French if I take elementary French (FRN 101) in my first semester at Grinnell?
Q. When is the best time to begin my study of French?
A. If you would like to have the option of studying in a French-speaking country or of completing a French major, you should take FRN 101 in the fall of your first year. FRN 101 is offered only in the fall.
Q. Why is it preferable to take FRN 103 (Accelerated Introduction to French) rather than FRN 101 (Introduction to French) if I have the appropriate level?
A. Doing so will enable you to advance to the intermediate level more quickly and thus give you more flexibility if you decide to major in French or study in a French-speaking country.
Q. Is FRN 103 offered every semester?
A. No. Like FRN 101, it is offered only in the fall.
Q. What skills will the study of French give me?
A. These will include: linguistic fluency; cultural competency; critical thinking and communication skills; an interdisciplinary perspective; and the ability to do in-depth analyses of cultural texts, films, and literary works from a diverse range of countries and historical periods. All of these skills are essential to understanding today’s global world and are highly sought after in the workplace.
Q. What can I do with a French major?
A. There are many post-graduate opportunities for French majors. Each year, several students return to France to work as an English Language Assistant in a French school. Others spend one or two years working for an organization such as Teach For America, AmeriCorps, or the Peace Corps before attending graduate school or beginning a career. Recent French majors have pursued careers in a broad range of fields including international affairs, law, business, non-profit work, medicine, scientific research, the arts, education, and scholarly research. See the departmental website (“Careers”) for more information.
Q. Is it possible to do a double major?
A. Many of our students do a double major and combine French with subjects such as Anthropology, Art History, Biology, Gender, Women’s and Sexuality Studies, History, Political Science, Psychology or Physics. Others pair their French major with an interdisciplinary concentration such as Global Development Studies, Linguistics, or Western European Studies. Doing a double major can be an advantage in the job market since many positions in both the public and private sectors require “significant proficiency in a language along with expertise in another field” (Resource Guide to Developing Linguistic and Cultural Competency in the United States).