French Language in Context: Competent Abroad I

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Course Information
French Language
Terms offered: 
Fall, Spring
Language of instruction: 
Contact Hours: 

Proficiency at a level equivalent to IES Abroad’s Emerging Competent Abroad, as determined by placement test.



Research has demonstrated that study abroad can enhance every aspect of language ability. One of the most important general findings of this research is, however, that study abroad is most beneficial for the development of abilities related to social interaction. Students who go abroad can learn to do things with words, such as requesting, apologizing, or offering compliments, and they may also learn to interpret situations calling such speech acts in ways that local people do. In short, and logically, study abroad has been show to enhance the aspects of communicative competence that are most difficult to foster in classroom settings (IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication, p. 6).

Student Profile

Students entering this level can succeed in a wide range of university courses designed for native speakers, provided they have met any prerequisites. Before registering, they should consult with the appropriate IES Abroad academic advisor on course selection.

By the end of this course, students will be fully able to meet the demands of living and working in the host culture. They will be able to communicate accurately, vividly, and expressively with their hosts on most topics. Students who succeed in this course will be able to function in a professional setting and to undertake further personal or professional projects in the host culture. Students will be able to understand local cultural attitudes, values, beliefs, and behavior patterns well enough to make informed choices about which cultural features they would like to adopt or need to adopt in order to live harmoniously in the local culture (IES Abroad MAP for Language and Intercultural Communication).

Attendance policy: 

Attendance is mandatory. Please note that absences and tardies will prevent you from fully understanding the material of the course and lowers your final grade. In case of illness, please alert your professor and the academics coordinator.

Method of presentation: 
  • Translations
  • Study of translations
  • Exercises
  • Work in groups
  • Dictations
  • Written assignments
Required work and form of assessment: 
  • Participation - 10%
  • Intensive Session - 10%
  • 2 Written assignments and 2 in-class tests - 40%
  • Mid-Term Exam - 20%
  • Final Exam - 20%

Texts or videos will be used as a basis to oral debates and accompanied by questions of comprehension. Two written assignments will be due during the semester, and two tests will help the students prepare the mid-semester exam as well as the final exam. The professor will ask them to memorize the studied points as well as a list of vocabulary

Every weekend, the students will send on Moodle a sentence containing a « word of the day » received during the week (acquisition of vocabulary)

The final test will account for 20% of the final note of the class. This test will include exercizes dealing with:

Written comprehension (text with questions)


WEEK CONTENT Assignments Corresponding Learning Outcome(s)
  1. Competence: Introduction, presentation
  2. Grammar: Oral French, nominalization
  3. Vocabulary: registers
  4. Culture: "What the Parisians say"


General class principles

Reading project (written comprehension) of a novel

Intensive session test

Vidéo : « Ce que disent les Parisiens »

acheter la Grammaire Expression fr écrite et orale, C. Abbadie, B. Chovelon, MH Morsel, PUG 2003 + On ne peut plus dormir tranquille quand on a une fois ouvert les yeux, récit de Robert Bober, Folio, 2012)

I.A., I.B., II.B., IV.A.,


  1. Competence : Work on clichés, express one’s opinion, define a cultural sense of belonging
  2. Grammar: negation of the articles, other negations, indicative past tenses
  3. Vocabulary: stereotypes, qualities and defects/ « savoir et connaître »
  4. Culture: Great « figures » of French collective representations

Video on stereotypes


Group work on stereotypes

Becoming a French citizen

I.A., II.A,B., III.A,B IV.A,B.,V.A.

  1. . Competence: Discuss a contemporary issue

  2. Grammar: Present and past conditional tenses, present participle, gerundive and verbal adjectives

  3. Vocabulary: ecology, « retourner, revenir, rentrer »

  4. Culture: different State policies around climate change, technological stakes, threats and frights, French humor on this subject.

Novel reading >page 30

Text : Ecology (Written comprehension)


Humor video: Gad El Maleh

Turn in Paper n° 1

I.A., II.A, B., III.A, B, D., IV.A,B, C., V.A, B.

  1. Competence: Discuss parity
  2. Grammar: Double personal pronouns
  3. Vocabulary: parity
  4. Culture: debate on the names of professions for men and women

Novel reading : page 60

Document reading (written comprehension)(see booklet)

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

I. A., II. A, B., III. A, B, D., IV. B, C., V. B.

  1. Competence: French comics
  2. Grammar: Prepositions, other revision if necessary
  3. Vocabulary: art
  4. Culture: Humour and distanciation, political stakes

Novel reading > page 90

B.D Pennac, C. Brétécher, P. Geluck, Comics (see booklet)

Comparison with English prepositions

Preparatory test for mid-semester exam (Test n° 1)

I. A,B.,II. A, B., III. A, B, D., IV. A, B, C., V. A, B.

  1. Competence : transmit  someone else’s opinion

  2. Grammar : indirect discourse

  3. Vocabulary : lodging

  4. Culture : Real estate in France

Novel reading :> p. 110

  1. Correction of test n° 1

Document reading (Written comprehension) « Airbnb cheating »

  1. Written comprehension
  2. Grammar
  3. Vocabulary
  4. Written expression

I. A,B., II. A, B., III. A, B, D.,

IV. A, B, C., V. A, B.

  1. Competence: Discuss a contemporary issue (immigration)
  2. Grammar: Passive form (transitive and intransitive verbs), impersonal form
  3. Vocabulary: immigration, demography
  4. Culture: Novel reading  > p. 140

Document reading (Written comprehension) : Immigrants in Calais

Vidéo : news excerpt

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

I.A, B., II.B., III. A, B, D.,

IV. A, B.

  1. Competence: discuss an education issue
  2. Grammar: Present subjunctive
  3.  Vocabulary: education, commentary and analysis of movie seen during the following week.
  4. Culture: Novel reading>  pp. 170

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

Comparison of the French and American education systems

Turn in Paper n°2 : Reading impressions R. BOBER (300 mots)

I.A;B., II.A,B., III. A.B,D., IV. A,B.

  1. Competence: Movies and advertisement
  2. Grammar: past subjunctive
  3. Vocabulary: education
  4. Culture: Movies/ advertisement

Novel reading > pp 200

Group work on a letter

Document writing  

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

I.A;B., II.A,B., III.B,D., IV.A,B, C., V.A, B.

  1. Competence: Writers in Paris
  2. Grammar:  Concession, opposition and restriction
  3. Vocabulary: literature in print
  4. Culture: Jules et Jim – the French Nouvelle Vague

Novel reading >p 230

Document reading (Written comprehension).  

Grammar and vocabulary reinforcement

Preparatory test for the final exam (test 2)

I.A;B., II. A,B., III. B, C,D., IV.C.,


  1. Competence : Musics
  2. Grammar:, cause, objective, consequence
  3. Vocabulary: Choice of an artist and a song
  4. Culture: Novel reading
Correction of the preparatory test

I.A, B., II.A, B., III.B, C, D., IV.A,B, C.,V.B.

  1. Grammar : general revision
  2. Culture : French song History

    « En relisant ta lettre » S. Gainsbourg
  3. Vocabulary : Anglicisms


  1. Written comprehension
  2. Grammar: in context
  3. Vocabulary: whole program
  4. Culture: Synthesis of written expression acquisitions
General revision for the final exam

I. A, B., II. A, B., III. A, B, C, D., IV. A, B, C., V. A. B.


Required readings: 
  • The texts will be distributed for each class.