French Department Undergraduate Learning Goals
1a. The attainment of basic proficiency in the French language In our lower division courses students learn to speak, read, and write grammatical French through class instruction, oral laboratory and reading and writing exercises.
1b. Exposure of undergraduates to French language and culture Students with no prior knowledge of French are given the opportunity to explore French literature and culture thanks to courses in English which include a few select examples of untranslated documents. Additional reading courses bridge the gap between these culture courses in English and our standard elementary language courses.
2. In our gateway to the Minor and Major students develop fluency in written and spoken expression and basic skills in critical thinking and in the analysis and interpretation of literary texts. Two advanced-level language courses (Advanced Grammar and Composition, and Composition and Stylistics), and two introductory courses to the early and modern periods of French literature (Aspects of French Literature, 215 and 216) train students to think and express themselves critically on topics of culture and literature. The learning goals of these courses are consistent with the University’s newly defined learning goals in the category of writing and communication: “- communicate complex ideas effectively, in standard French [the original statement reads English] to a general audience. - evaluate and critically assess sources and use the conventions of attribution and citation correctly.” (Preliminary draft of Learning Goals, SAS Faculty Forum, February 14, 2008).
3. In a wide variety of upper-division courses students acquire advanced proficiency in French; a solid knowledge of French and Francophone culture and literature; and analytical skills within the areas of French linguistics, cultural, or literary studies (reflecting the three options within our major).
4. Senior French majors develop research skills and readiness for post-graduate study. All of our majors are required to take a senior seminar in the Cultural, Literary Studies or Linguistics options. These courses assign ten to fifteen page research papers that require advanced writing and research and critical skills. Ten to fifteen percent of our graduating majors also choose to write an Honors thesis in French or an Interdisciplinary thesis. This 35 to 50-page thesis is expected to attain the level of beginning graduate work in French studies. The goals of these capstone experiences are consistent with the University’s newly defined learning goals in the category of writing and communication: “- communicate effectively to a specialized academic audience in a mode appropriate to the discipline. - think analytically and synthesize information and ideas called from multiple sources, engaging with other writers, researchers, and thinkers, in order to generate new insights or understandings worthy of expression.” (Preliminary draft of Learning Goals, SAS Faculty Forum, February 14, 2008). French faculty regularly mentor the top 5% to 10% of the class toward graduate studies by following the students’ performance on GRE exams and advising them through the application process.