Whether starting out in French 101 or sitting next to a native speaker in a 400-level literature course, our students build their proficiency in French while exploring the far corners of French and Francophone literature, culture, geography, film, current events, and professional life. The diversity of our course offerings combines with a diversity of student experience–including both pre- and post-study-abroad students, nontraditional professionals, graduate students from other departments, and class visitors–to create a rich set of possibilities for all those interested in moving farther in this important world language.
- Why Language
- Certificate in French
- Major In French
- Major in French Education
- Honors in French
- French Ambassadors
- Academic Advising
- Professional Development
- Study Abroad and International Internships
Skills & Strengths of a Liberal Arts Major
Benefits of Multilingualism
Benefits of Language Learning
Some Figures about French
- French is the 2nd most useful language for business after English. The top three are Mandarin, French, then Arabic. (Bloomberg)
- The number of French speakers in the world has tripled over the last ﬁfty years, up 25% since 2010 from about 220 million in 2010 to 274 million in 2014, equal to 90% of the US population. (Reuters)
- French ist the fifth most widely spoken language in the world
- There are over 100 million students in the world learning French right now.
- French is the official language of 33 countries and widely spoken in at least 10 more.
- French and English are the only two languages spoken on 5 continents.
- French is 1 of 6 official languages of the United Nations.
- Over 1,200 French companies in the United States employ 500,000 Americans.
- French is one of the oﬃcial languages of many international organizations: the UN, UNESCO, NATO, the EU, the Olympics.
- French is required or preferred by over 50% of international jobs listed by the U.S. State Department.
- French is the second most frequently taught foreign language in the United States.
- France has won more Nobel Prizes for literature than any other country.
- Canada is the largest trading partner of the United States and Montreal is the second largest francophone city in the world after Paris.
- France is a world leader in science and technology. The Human Genome Project is located in Paris; U.S. Coast Guard helicopters are made by Aérospatiale, Airbus is one of the world’s leading manufacturers of airplanes; and we have these recent inventions thanks to the French: the “smart card”, the Minitel (the precursor to email and the Internet), HDTV, high-speed rail, and more!
If you have previous experience in a world language and want to continue learning it, please see the placement page on the Languages at UW-Madison website.
All incoming UW-Madison students are encouraged to take the placement test for language(s) studied in high school or elsewhere. UW placement tests are available in French at Regional Testing sites and ACT Testing Centers. For information on registering for placement testing, see the SOAR website and the Testing and Evaluation Services website. Students may be eligible to receive retroactive credits, depending on which level of French they place into (see below). Additionally, students who took the AP French Exam and received a score of 3 or higher will be awarded college credit (see below).
Placement in French language courses 101-228 is determined by the UW System French Placement test or in consultation with the Department or SOAR World Language Consultant.
UW SYSTEM PLACEMENT SCORES AND CUT-OFFS
NOTE: Students scoring at or near the cut-off points should speak with Professor Heather Willis Allen for more options, including permission to enroll in ‘honors’ sections.
Students enrolled in 102, 203, 204, 227, 228, 271, or 311 are eligible for retro credits. Consult complete retrocredit policy for more information.
ADVANCED PLACEMENT (AP) CREDIT POLICY
College credit will be awarded to students who receive a 3, 4, or 5 on their AP French Exam. More information can be found here.
FOREIGN CREDIT EVALUATION
For information on requirements for the French major, please refer to the Undergraduate Guide.
Students in the School of Education may declare a French major through their school or through Letters & Science. For more information on the French Education Program, please refer to the Undergraduate Guide.
Having completed an undergraduate major in French, you will be able to:
- Demonstrate understanding and ability to analyze literary and non-literary texts in French representing a broad spectrum of topics, time periods, and geographical regions
- Express yourself effectively in spoken and written French to inform, persuade, and narrate for different audiences of listeners, viewers, or readers
- Express yourself effectively in spoken and written French to share information, reactions, and opinions related to a broad spectrum of topics and texts
- Recognize and explain cultural artifacts, practices, and perspectives of the French-speaking world including how these cultural elements relate to literary and non-literary texts in French
- Demonstrate a good degree of understanding of lexical, grammatical, syntactic, and stylistic features of the French language
- Demonstrate awareness of difference and diversity by comparing and contrasting culturally situated beliefs, behaviors, and norms of the French-speaking world with your own
- Engage in a sustained fashion with the French language, its users, and cultural artifacts in and beyond the classroom, e.g., in your own community, virtual communities, and study abroad
How to Declare
- Download and complete the L&S Major and Certificate Declaration Form.
- Contact and send the form to Ewa Miernowska
- Note: If you have declared another major in a College other than L&S, and wish to double major in French, contact the French advisor to complete the Major Declaration Form. Take the signed form to the Student Academic Affairs office of the other college in which you are enrolled, and file an “Academic Action Form.” Once the Academic Action Form has been filed, notify your French advisor.
For more information, contact the World Language Education Program.
About Honors and variable credit courses
Taking a class for honors
A student can choose to register for a course for honors credit. Students taking a course for honors will be required to do extra work as described below for each particular course. Students taking a class for honors should contact the professor/instructor as soon as possible at the very beginning of the semester (or before) to begin organizing the honors curriculum for the semester.
Who needs permission to take a class for honors, or to register for a designated honors section?
Students in the L&S Honors Program do not need permission to take a class for honors or to register for a designated honors section. Please note that students in the L&S Honors Program must take a minimum number of credits in designated honors sections. More information available here.
Students not in the L&S Honors can obtain permission for their current instructor, the instructor for the course they intend to take, or an advisor in French.
What about variable credit courses?
French 228 and 271 are offered for 3 or 4 credits. The 4th credit is not required and can be added or removed normally up to the second week of class.The content of the 4th credit varies depending upon the instructor’s and the students’ interests. In general, this extra meeting allows students more contact with the instructor in a small group environment, more weekly interaction in French, greater research into the subject matter, and often the opportunity to develop ones own personal interests with relation to the subject. For more information, see French 227 and 228 below.
4th Credit Students: A program of extra reading and other assignments given in conjunction with approximately seven extra class meetings (known a discussion sections) which students are required to attend on top of the regular weekly 3-credit lecture sections. Depending on the instructor, these seven extra meetings may take place every other week, or they may be clustered in successive weeks at selected points in the semester.
French 101 and 102: A student who wants to do the Honors option will meet with the TA to discuss projects to do in addition to the normal 101 or 102 homework and activities. The student must do four (4) additional activities. Possibilities include, but are not limited to:
- Lunch, dinner, or other activity at the French House
- Watching a French movie (in French; English subtitles are ok) – these can be found through the LSS learning lab, 4-Star video, or elsewhere.
- Following the news or weather on TV5 for a week
- Some other event involving the French language; use your best judgment to determine what would be appropriate.
French 203: The requirements for a student taking French 203 for honors will vary on a case by case basis. They are determined in consultation with the student, the instructor, and the course chair. Options for completing the requirements for taking French 203 for honors include (but are not limited to):
- a research project wherein the instructor and the student will determine a focus. The instructor will determine a timeline to include a formal proposal, outline, and 5-page paper and/or 5-minute presentation to the class.
- a 3-4 short 2-page reaction papers, or
- 3-4 in class presentations based on films, current events, news items, or a theme to be worked out between the student and the instructor.
French 204: Two options are available for additional writing assignments, to be determined in consultation with the instructor
- A directed independent research project (6-8 pages). Students will consult with their instructors at least three times during the semester to define their topics and discuss their research. The description of the project will be due by the 4th week of class and the project will be due by the end of the semester
- 4 analytical essays (2 pages each) based on French/ Francophone movies, with emphasis on cultural content. Students will consult with their instructors to choose their movies.
French 227: Students wishing to take 227 for honors should first speak with their instructor.
French 228: In addition to the regular course requirements, student must do 4 additional activities (essays or/and class presentations), based on movies, current issues, etc., with emphasis on cultural content. Student will consult with the instructor to choose the topics or themes. This extra work is the equivalence of one credit requirements.
French 271: In addition to the regular course requirements, student must do a directed independent research project, designed and carried out by each student in consultation with the instructor. Such projects often include a program of individual meetings with the instructor; occasionally, they also entail group meetings with other students taking the course for 4 credits.
The French Ambassadors of the Department of French and Italian are our Student Advisory Board. They serve as representative voices of their peers in the French program. The organization exists with the following goals:
- Provide constructive feedback and input to department faculty and staff on the curricular and co-curricular aspects of the program
- Offer leadership opportunities to French Ambassadors as they take responsibility for the organization’s operations and success
- Support the study of French for undergraduates
- Foster greater connection among current students of French
- Develop and enhance alumni connections
What is the time commitment? The French Ambassador organization is sensitive to students’ busy schedules.
- Ambassadors serve for 2 semester minimum (beginning with the start of the Spring semester)
- Ambassadors attend bi-monthly, 60-minute meetings. Executive Committee members also attend organizational meetings during alternate months.
- Ambassadors attend a minimum of 2 outside events or participate in 2 activities per semester.
Who is eligible to be a “French Ambassador”?
- Anyone who is interested in French language and culture
Members of the Advisory Board must be undergraduate students of French, and meet the following requirements:
- be a full-time UW-Madison student and a declared French major or French certificate candidate
- have completed at least 1 semester on campus by the start of his/her term
- have and maintain a 2.5 cumulative GPA overall and in the major or certificate
For more information on the French Advisory Board, please contact the department.
– Navigate the French language program.
– Learn about majoring or double majoring in French or Italian.
– Choose the best study abroad program(s) for you.
– Explore the possibility of post-undergraduate studies.
– Investigate careers related to the language and your degree.
– Understand Letters & Science degree requirements for graduation.
– Discover resources on campus for additional support.
Before making an appointment with an advisor:
– If you’re just getting started, check out this great Academic and Career Planning Guide.
– It is sometimes very helpful to run a “DARS” report, or a “DARS What-if” if you are considering a major or interested in adding a study abroad program to your udergraduate career. You can run these through your ‘My-UW‘.
– If you are considering study abroad, make sure you research your opportunities at studyabroad.wisc.edu and read this handout on How to Determine Course Equivalents.
Academic Advisor in French
For new advisees, contact Ewa Miernowska
For continuing advisees, contact email@example.com
How can I make French work for me? Will I be able to use my French? What careers are open to me?
In 2014, foreign language majors earned the highest starting salary of all liberal arts majors, $46,900, followed by English language and literature letters majors at $42,200.
What’s the Foreign Language Advantage? You are developing many of the skills and attributes that employers want:
- You’re a great communicator (you know how to get the point across).
- You are culturally literate (you work well with others).
- You’re a critical thinker (you know how to put all the pieces together).
- You’re a problem solver (you know how to prioritize, compromise and get the job done).
- You’re a multi-tasker (and you are even better at it than other college graduates).
Your classroom education and experience already put you in a great position for future success. Yet there are more resources out there that can help you get to where you want to be.
How many of these can you check off your “to do” list?
- Check out SuccessWorks, a full-service career center specifically for L&S students.
- Register for Handshake, connecting students and employers.
- Make an Appointment with a Career Advisor
- Consider taking INTER-LS 210: L&S Career Development: Taking Initiative – This one-credit course helps students develop critical skills and knowledge for making future career-related decisions. Designed specifically for L&S students, or those exploring an L&S major, course discussion focuses on leveraging and articulating the value of the liberal arts and science degree. Our goal is to enforce students’ capacity to become leaders, innovators, and entrepreneurs in the 21st-centrury workforce. Students are encouraged to take the course in their second-year of college.
- Seek and Gain Experience (outside the classroom)
Learn What’s French in Madison
Visit the French House for lunches, Wednesday dinners, and other events
Have a coffee at Barriques on Monday nights with fellow francophiles
Find out what the ‘Table Ronde’ is!
- Career Exploration (on-line tools)
- Join Badger Bridge: This professional network is an exclusive place where UW-Madison alumni and students can come together to offer support in achieving career goals and exploring professional opportunities.
- Career Kickstart : Launched in Fall 2015, Career Kickstart is an academic program that helps residents launch their career and find jobs or internships through special events and workshops. Join returning students and make the next step in your life with access to special events and resources: On-site academic/career advising and related programming; “Back stage access” to employers, alumni, and resources on campus; learn how to land and internshp and get a job; develop your resume, polish your interviewing skills, and more!
Gain competence with the French language, and knowledge of French culture, history and the arts in Aix-En-Provence. This program is offered by a consortium of Indiana University and UW-Madison. A faculty member from one of the participating U.S. universities serves as the Faculty Director for the academic year and teaches at least one course. The Faculty Director, along with local Assistant Director, assists with all aspects of the program.
Stroll along the Champs-Elysees while enjoying everything that Paris has to offer in your spring semester abroad! The UW Paris Spring Program will offered through a partnership with the CIEE French and Critical Studies program (FCS). A faculty member from UW Madison serves as the Program Leader each spring. In addition, CIEE will facilitate the transition into Parisian life and help with everyday practical matters.
This 4-week summer program in Rabat, Morocco, combines intensive study of French language along with the exploration of the political, cultural, and historical perspectives of Morocco, North Africa, and the French language and culture presence in this country and region.
EXCHANGE AND AFFLIATE PROGRAMS
Brussels, Belgium / CIEE Business, Communications and Culture at Vesalius College
Monpellier, France/ Institut National d’études Supérieures Agronomiques de Montpellier Exchange
Paris, France / CIEE French and Critical Studies in Paris
Paris, France / Institut d’Etudes Politiques Exchange
Tours, France / Institut de Touraine French Language Program
A great option for French Certificate students, this summer program is offered for four weeks or eight weeks and allows students to earn 6 credits or 12 credits, respectively. Prerequisite: First Semester French.
Tunis, Tunisia / SIT Emerging Identities in North Africa
The International Internship Program (IIP) – an office within the International Division – identifies, cultivates, and promotes high-quality internship opportunities for UW Madison undergraduate students. Cultivated internships are created specifically for UW Madison undergraduates and are those listed in red on IIP’s database; most require enrollment in the Worldwide Internship Program (WIP).
Cultivated internship deadlines: early October for Spring internships; mid-February for Summer or Fall internships.
The Worldwide Internship Program (WIP) is a way for UW Madison undergraduates to earn academic credit for an internship abroad. WIP allows you to be continuously enrolled at UW-Madison while interning, in order to maintain access to scholarships, international health insurance, etc. This program is open to students from any major. Students can enroll in WIP if they are participating in an IIP cultivated internship. They can also apply sepaparetly for WIP credit on a student-identified internship.
WIP Application deadlines: early October for Spring internships; early March for Summer or Fall internships
How can I intern in France?
1. Identify internship opportunities (databases, advising, or info sessions)
2. Apply: either through IIP database or directly with the organization; apply for credit through IIP
3. Confirm internship with IIP and the organization: complete necessary forms and deposits
4. Complete tri-lateral internship agreement (agreement between the student, UW-Madison and the host organization)
5. Prepare: Apply for a visa, visit UHS Travel Clinic, pick up WIP course reader
*We recommend that you apply early, as this process often takes several months. IIP advising drop-in hours and appointments can be found here.
Past Student Internships
Telelangue (Paris, France)
Uffizi Gallery (Florence, Italy)
Various ‘office de tourisme’ (France ; Fort Mahon and Epinal)
KUHN Group (France)
International New York Times (France)
Good News International of Rwanda (Rwanda)
Bombardier (Montréal, Canada)
International Organization for Migration (Geneva, Switzerland)
US Dept of State (Italy)
Contact IIP Advisor – 608-261-1018
Courses in French
For a complete listing of sections and times, consult the Schedule of Classes.
Note: Honors option is available at almost all levels. For introductory and intermediate language courses (101, 102, 203, 204, 227 & 228), odd numbered courses offer a dedicated honors section in the Fall, and even numbered courses offer a dedicated honors section in the Spring. Honors sections in 101-228 offer smaller enrollments (16 instead of 24 max) and, by demanding a more concerted and independent effort on the part of the students, class sessions allow for greater expansion of activities and more in-class communication.
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French 101: First Semester French
French 102: Second Semester French
French 312: Advanced Composition and Conversation
Contact: Professor Heather Willis Allen
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French 211: French Literary And Interdisciplinary Studies
Contact: Professor Gilles Bousquet
The objective of this course is to provide an overview of MSF (and to some extent other NGOs) working in health crisis situations, including its history, mission, organization, internal management, cultural, political, and ethical challenges. In so doing, the course will examine issues of global health, social justice, and humanitarian action, of particular relevance to our present times, including a reading of The Plague (La Peste), by French writer Albert Camus, and several contemporary French essays and works of fiction in relation to global medical humanitarian work. This course, taught in English, will be featuring several guest lecturers from the Global Health Institute, MSF, and other organizations with a presence in health crisis areas. Students will have a chance to interact first-hand with distinguished global practitioners and scholars. Presentations will be followed by a professor-led discussion, as well as small-group discussions between students to deepen their understanding of concepts and themes addressed by the lecturer. This course will also include case studies of particular MSF interventions in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, Latin America, and Africa. The MSF course will be of interest to French and World Languages and Cultures students, as well as students in Global Health, the sciences, and international affairs.
Taught in English.
French 216: Modern and Contemporary Francophone Topics
Contact: Professor Nevine El Nossery
This course is an introduction to some of the most significant themes and debates associated with thinking about colonial and postcolonial questions in the francophone world. In a context where the postcolonial remains effective (after more than sixty years of independence) and where borders tend to blur and open up to the transnational, should we still use the terms: francophone literature, postcolonial literature, french-speaking literature, or just use ‘world literature in French’? Based on the reading of iconic theoretical texts of postcolonial studies (by Homi Bhabha, Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Achille Mbembe, Edward Saïd, Gayatri Spivak) and literary works (by Maryse Condé, Assia Djebar, Ahmadou Kourouma, Michel Tremblay, Abdelrahman Waberi), and movies (by Yamina Benguigui, Gillo Pontecorvo, Moufida Tlatli, Ousmane Sembene), we will explore these topics among others: colonial discourses, the issue of language, national allegories, the rewriting of history, questions of gender dynamics, diasporic identity, hybridity and in-betweenness, and the problems of decolonization and the postcolonial state.
Taught in English.
French 228: Intermediate Language and Culture
Credits: 3 – 4
Contact: Professor Nevine El Nossery
Enhance writing and speaking proficiency through cultural readings on France and the francophone world. Review of grammar and focus on more complex grammatical structures. A required prerequisite for the French major (and a requirement for the French certificate).
Taught in French.
French 271: Introduction to Literary Analysis
French 301: Practical French Conversation
Taught in French.
French 311: Advanced Composition and Conversation
French 313: Professional Communication and Culture in the Francophone World
French 321: Introduction to Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Literature
French 322: Introduction to Literature of Modernity
French 347: Introduction to Medieval, Renaissance, and Early Modern Civilization
French 348: Modernity Studies
Contact: Professor Florence Vatan
The purpose of this course is to explore the political, social, intellectual, artistic and literary developments in French and Francophone culture, within the time period from the French Revolution to the current era. The course is taught entirely in French. Prerequisite: French 271.
Taught in French.
French 430: Readings in Medieval and Renaissance Literature
Contact: Professor Jan Miernowski
Theme: “Le Vrai amour est une fable (c’est pourquoi il est vrai)” [True Love is a Fable (That Is Why It Is True)]
Love in Western culture relies on the following syllogism:
To be true, love must be a story.
The most meaningful love story is a fictional narrative.
Thus, a true love is a fiction (and, conversely, only a well-crafted fictional love story can really be true).
We will study this paradoxical intertwining of love and narrative fiction in French literature between the 13th and the 16th century. During that pivotal period, French literature produced highly symbolic narratives that were not merely allegorical representations of love but indeed textual devices aimed at perfecting the erotic passions of their readers. The reading list includes canonical texts and authors of the late Middle Ages and early Renaissance: Le Roman de la Rose, Guillaume Machaut, Christine de Pizan, Charles d’Orléans, Clément Marot, Maurice Scève, Louise Labé, and Pierre de Ronsard. The readings will be available in modern French translations.
Taught in French.
Meets-with French 672
Literature in Translation 249: Nineteenth-Century French Masterpieces
Contact: Professor Richard Goodkin
In this course, we will read and analyze a series of nineteenth-century French novels and short stories that deal with the representation of love, one of the most important themes in French literature of the time. Works will be chosen among the following authors: Benjamin Constant, René de Chateaubriand, Honoré de Balzac, Gustave Flaubert, and Guy de Maupassant.
No comm-B section
Taught in English.
ACS/French 440: Francophone Film
Contact: Professor Vlad Dima
This course is an overview of francophone African cinema, featuring representative films and directors from Senegal, Mali, Chad, Cameroon, Algeria, and Morocco, and spanning from 1966 to 2016. We will study directors from the pioneering African wave (Sembène, Mambéty) and also contemporary artistic voices (Bekolo, Sissako, Saleh etc.). Students will learn about both the history and the aesthetics of francophone African cinema. Thematically, the course is split in three major strands to be explored in depth through film and theoretical readings: the African city and space, aesthetics of image and sound, and the African body.
Taught in English.