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French at Calvin

Mission | Faith and learning | Worldwide french | Majors and minors

Studying French at Calvin College means more than simply acquiring linguistic competence; it involves improving one's memory and self-discipline, enhancing verbal and problem-solving skills, The eiffel towerdeveloping multicultural sensitivity, and, overall, learning what it means to live as a Christian in the Kingdom of God. Studying French also allows you to broaden your knowledge in other areas of study: history, anthropology, political science, literature, geography, linguistics, philosophy, and theology .The French department offers courses of study for students interested in continuing their work on the graduate level, for those interested in careers in which foreign language plays a key role, and for those interested in teaching French at the secondary or elementary school levels. Programs in the department include major and minor concentrations in French, major and minor concentrations in secondary and elementary education, and K-12. To be eligible for a major concentration in general French studies, a student must have completed at least two courses in French with a minimum grade of C (2.0), and must have completed 101, 102, 121, 122, or the equivalent. To be admitted to the Teacher Education Program, a student must have a cumulative GPA of at least 2.5 in the courses required for the major and/or minor.


In acknowledging the privileged role in the created world which language and culture play in achieving God's purposes and in recognizing the responsibilities of Christians to serve God and others in every aspect of life, the Department of French is committed to teaching language, literature, and culture; to providing appropriate service related to such teaching; and to engaging in scholarly exploration of the French language and francophone literatures and cultures.

Integration of Faith and Learning

Believing that Christians are created in God's image and are redeemed children of God, the faculty of the French Department at Calvin acknowledges the responsibilities of Christians to serve God and others in every aspect of life. In occupying an important place in the created world, language has long been a special instrument for achieving God's purposes, from the dispersal of earth's inhabitants at Babel to the outpouring of blessing at Pentecost. In recognizing, therefore, the multilingual and multicultural dimensions of life as part of God's creation, we affirm our commitment to exploring those dimensions so that we may be more effective agents of service and blessing.

The foreign language class is one vehicle by which students can develop appreciation for the richness of other cultures, the intricacies of verbal and written communication, and, by contrast, the peculiarities of our own culture and language system. For the department faculty members, integrating faith and learning implies a faithful effort to help students develop such appreciation. Furthermore, we believe that the classroom atmosphere should reflect values held by Christians: the dignity of each student, the obligation to view our peers as image bearers of God, and the responsibility to affirm each other in the spirit of community. Finally, the classroom should provide a context in which the Christian faith can be expressed openly through Scripture reading, prayers, songs, etc.

Integrating what we learn with what we believe is a task for both teacher and student. The teacher should serve as facilitator, while each student must work individually to internalize the integration.

French in the world

French is the official language of France and its overseas territories as well as Bénin; Burkina Faso; Central African Republic; Congo (Democratic Republic of); Congo (Republic of); Côte d'Ivoire; Gabon; Guinea; Luxembourg; Mali; Monaco; Niger; Sénégal; Togo; the Canadian province of Québec; and the Swiss districts of Vaud, Neuchâtel, Genève, and Jura. French territories: Départements d'outre-mer (DOM) * French Guiana, De arc de triumphGuadeloupe, Martinique, Réunion Territoires d'outre mer (TOM) * French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna, French southern and Antarctic lands Collectivités territoriales * Saint Pierre and Miquelon, Mayotte French is a co-official language in Belgium, Burundi, Cameroon, Canada, Chad, Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Haiti (the two official languages are French and French Creole), Madagascar, Rwanda, Seychelles, Switzerland, and Vanuatu.

In many countries, French plays an important role, either as an administrative, commercial, or international language or simply due to a significant French-speaking population: Algeria, Andorra, Argentina, Brazil, Cambodia, Cape Verde, Dominica (French patois), Egypt, Greece, Grenada (French patois), Guinea-Bissau, India, Italy (Valle d'Aosta), Laos, Lebanon, Mauritania, Mauritius, Morocco, Poland, Syria, Trinidad and Tobago, Tunisia, United Kingdom (Channel Islands), United States (Louisiana, New England), Vatican City, and Vietnam.

Prospective Majors and Minors

Any student wishing to declare a concentration in French should complete a Major Concentration Counseling Sheet with a department advisor (V. De Vries, O. Selles, A. Haveman, or J. Vos-Camy can help you fill out the appropriate form). The forms are available from the Office of the Registrar.

Quick Facts

French is spoken in 29 countries around the world.

French is the second language of three Arab nations, and one of the official languages of the United Nations and the European Union.

More than 125 million people communicate in French worldwide.

French and English are the only languages spoken as a native language on 5 continents.