The French studies major consists of 10 or more courses, including at least two taken the senior year.
Majors will keep all relevant coursework in an online portfolio. During their final semester, they will write a “déclaration personnelle” in which they will survey their work in the discipline, synthesize what they have learned, and communicate, in writing and then orally, the fruits of that reflection. This document, besides being a capstone to the major, also gives students a head start on applications for employment or graduate school.
Senior majors, in the early part of their final semester, will demonstrate their mastery of spoken French through the OPIc exam, an online instrument designed to assess oral proficiency according to the guidelines of ACTFL (the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages). The department will bear the cost of this evaluation.
A number of the major requirements may be met during a junior year spent at a French-speaking university in study programs approved by the department. Application to such programs is made during the first semester of the sophomore year. Note that the college requires that at least one-half of the courses in the major be taken at Wheaton. Students with a good mastery of the French language who are majoring in other fields can pursue these fields during a junior year abroad with the approval of their major department. The department strongly recommends a full year of study abroad in a French-speaking country for all majors.
Majors are encouraged to select courses in areas such as European history, philosophy, religion or history of art, which will strengthen their awareness of the French cultural background. Work in other national literatures, including English, is strongly encouraged.
Learning Outcomes for the French Studies Department
Students completing the major in French Studies at Wheaton shall:
- with regard to the French language, be able to
– express themselves effectively orally and in writing in interpersonal communications, and in formal and informal presentations
– understand spoken and written French on a variety of topics both quotidian and academic
- with regard to French literature, be able to
– read and understand literary texts of all sorts from the early modern period to the present
– situate these texts in their social and historical context
– demonstrate an ability to analyze and to write cogently about these texts and to identify and use pertinent secondary sources
- with regard to French civilization, be able to
– demonstrate a knowledge of the major historical events, literary and artistic movements, and national and international accomplishments of the nation
– have an awareness of the influence of France beyond its borders, and the language and literature of the Francophone world