French 391: French for Reading Knowledge


  • Sandberg and Tatham, French for Reading (Prentice-Hall, 1968) [required]
  • Collins-Robert French-English Dictionary [highly recommended]
  • Photocopied materials (grammar worksheets, articles and excerpts for translation)

The goal of this course is to give students with no previous knowledge of French the ability to read texts that are necessary or useful for their research. The basics of French grammar are given over the course of the semester. Basic exercises focus on translation from French to English. A good deal of memorization will be required, but students will generally not be expected to reproduced forms in French, just to recognize them. French pronunciation will NOT be studied extensively, and students will NOT learn to speak French or to understand spoken French, just to read texts written in French. No previous knowledge of French required; those who have studied some French but cannot read texts in their field of research are welcome to take the course. French 391 can be taken by graduate students in many departments as a means of fulfilling a foreign language reading requirement (please consult your particular department regarding its particular policies).  This course is not intended for undergraduates and does NOT count for credit toward the French major.

During the first half of the semester, our reading/translation exercises will be based largely upon the passages provided in the French for Reading textbook, which represent a range of fields in the humanities, sciences, and social sciences. As the semester progresses, students will have the opportunity to concentrate individually on texts pertinent to their particular discipline.

There will be in-class, mostly closed-book exams about every 3 weeks or so, and at-home translations to hand in. There may be short quizzes now and then. The course requires very regular attendance and systematically keeping up with the material.   Students will have a choice between taking a final exam or doing a “capstone” translation from a French text related to their field of research.