Explore the French Major

Calvin's French major is a 31-credit hour program that will help you develop both language and cultural proficiency through courses and numerous cultural engagement opportunities. Use this major to prepare for further study in graduate school, as a subject matter concentration for the teacher education program or as a complement to other majors and minors at Calvin, such as engineering, business, history and philosophy.

Course Requirements 2014-2015

(31 semester hours)

  • FREN-301 Advanced Conversation
  • FREN-302 Advanced Grammar
  • FREN-351 Survey of French Literature
  • One from the francophone world:
    • FREN-361 Francophone Literature and Culture in Quebec
    • FREN-362 Francophone Literature and Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Diaspora
    • FREN-363 Francophone Literature and Culture in North Africa
  • One from French literature:
    • FREN-394 Medieval and Early Modern French Literature
    • FREN-395 French Literature Before and After the French Revolution
    • FREN-396 Contemporary French Literature and Thought
  • Five electives chosen from any of the following:
    • STFR-315 Advanced Stylistics & Phonetics
    • STFR-316 Advanced Language Study in France II
    • STFR-330 Contemporary France
    • FREN-361 Francophone Literature and Culture in Quebec
    • FREN-362 Francophone Literature and Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Diaspora
    • FREN-363 Francophone Literature and Culture in North Africa
    • FREN-372 French Linguistics
    • FREN-373 French for International Business
    • FREN-374 Women and Gender in French Literature and Culture
    • FREN-375 French Cinema
    • STFR-381 Special Topics in French
    • FREN-394 Medieval and Early Modern French Literature
    • FREN-395 French Literature Before and After the French Revolution
    • FREN-396 Contemporary French Literature and Thought
    • FREN-W60 French Interim
    • FREN-W80 French Interim

Study in France courses are: STFR-315 Advanced Language Study in France I, STFR-316 Advanced Language Study in France II, STFR-381 Special Topics, STFR-330 Contemporary France, STFR-361 Francophone Literature and Culture in Quebec, STFR-362 Francophone Literature and Culture in Sub-Saharan Africa and the Diaspora, and STFR-363 Francophone Literature and Culture in North Africa. Note: STFR-361, STFR-362 and STFR-363 may fulfill either the francophone world course requirement or serve as an elective. Only one of these three courses will be taught in a particular semester abroad.

All majors must take the French Department competency exam preferably in the spring of their senior year.

Note: Students with a double major in Engineering may count Engineering 387, International Engineering Internship, toward a French major or minor when that internship takes place in a French-speaking region or country.

French honors requirements

  1. A minimum cumulative GPA of 3.5 and a minimum of six honors courses (18 hours minimum), including at least three honors courses in the major and two outside the major;
  2. A minimum GPA in French of at least 3.5;
  3. The completion of an honors component in at least three courses in the French Department from the following: 301 or 302, 351, 361, 362, 363, 372, 373, 374, 375, 381, 394, 395, 396. (Note: a student may complete an honors component in the core-level courses to fulfill the general college honors requirement).
  4. The satisfactory completion of a senior honors thesis, to be completed when taking a course from the French Literature cluster (394, 395, 396) for capstone credit and presented orally to members of the department faculty.

Who to contact

The advisor for the honors program is Jolene Vos-Camy. Learn more about The Calvin Honors Program..

Placement tests

As an incoming student interested in French, you will be asked to take an online placement test prior to your PASSPORT orientation session. If you are considering a French major, you will talk to a faculty advisor during orientation who can help you with placement in the correct French class. Once you are in a French class, if you find it too difficult or too easy, speak with your advisor, or another professor in the French department about changing classes to the appropriate level.

Competency examinations

All French majors are required to take the competency exam administered by the French Department.

To take the competency examination in the fall, register with Prof. J. Vos-Camy, in October. The exam date for fall 2014 will be announced soon. To take the competency examination in the spring semester, students must register with Prof. J. Vos-Camy, in February. The date of the spring exam is announced in the fall.

Tips to succeed in the competency exam

  1. Review. Begin early a systematic review of grammar. For review, the French 302 text is recommended: Contrastes.
  2. Read. One of the best ways to review is to read a variety of materials: magazines, newspapers, plays, novels, etc. This will improve vocabulary, as well as reinforce grammatical skills.
  3. Write. A useful way to maintain writing skills is to keep a journal. One should begin practicing writing short paragraphs and essays several weeks prior to the exam.
  4. Speak and listen. Find and utilize opportunities afforded on campus for conversation and listening comprehension. Activities such as French Chapel, French Table, and the French Film series offer the opportunity to refresh and maintain listening and speaking skills. French language programming is also available through TV5 on Calvin's cable channel 15.
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