Jul 04, 2020  
Course Catalog 2005-2006 
Course Catalog 2005-2006 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

French and Italian

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The Department of French and Italian offers a major in French and Francophone studies supported by an extensive and distinctive curriculum. In addition to courses supporting the French major, the department offers courses in beginning Italian language. We strongly encourage students to include in their major a semester or year of study abroad in a program suited to their interests and level.


French is the first language of nearly 80 million people, and the second language of around 100 million more. It is the official language of 29 countries, and is the only language other than English spoken on five continents. Fifty-one countries are members of “La Francophonie.” Here in the United States, French is the language spoken at home by nearly 1.7 million people (2000 Census), the fourth language after English, Spanish, and Chinese. Our goal is to give our students the means to visit, study or work in, or do research in any Francophone country; to give them the tools necessary to undertake, on their own, learning, understanding, and appreciating the culture, the arts, and the institutions of that country.

The program is built on four integrated objectives: mastery of the French language, spoken and written; acquisition of critical appreciation of literature written in French, and of French-speaking cinema; the study of culture through cultural analysis; awareness of the life-changing experiences entailed in the intellectual and personal challenges of learning a different way of being. We emphasize participation in appropriate study abroad options and all majors should spend one term or preferably a full academic year in the cultural environment of the target language because diversity should not only be explained, read, and talked about but also experienced. We also encourage majors to live in La Maison Francophone on campus, where they have the opportunity of immersion in the target language and culture in daily contact with native speakers. The flexibility of the major program allows the prospective major to design his/her course of study to meet individual student backgrounds, needs and interests, and to prepare for graduate study and a wide range of eventual careers. Departmental advisors are available for consultation in organizing the major program. Lectures, discussion and written work in advanced courses are normally in French.

Language Laboratory.

The Paul and Edith Cooper International Learning Center, located on the third floor of Peters Hall, is a state of the art facility designed for both class and individual use at all levels of language learning. Audio, video and computer materials are available for student use. Laboratory practice is encouraged for all students who wish to improve their speaking and oral comprehension.

Advanced Placement.

Students who have received a score of 4 or 5 on the Advanced Placement (AP) exam in French Language or French Literature will be automatically awarded three hours of Oberlin College credit as French 300 and will be qualified to enter the Oberlin French curriculum at the 300-level. Students receiving AP credit should enroll for French 309, 321, 360, 361, 371, 372, or 373. AP credit (French 300) counts toward the French major.

Prerequisites and Placement of Students.

It is the department’s policy to advance students as fast as achievement warrants. Students who have taken the SAT II Exam in French should enroll in courses according to their score:

800-675            French 309, 321, 360, 361, 371, 372
675-625            French 301
625-550            French 203 or 205, 206

Students with previous study of French who have not taken the SAT II exam should take the Oberlin French Placement Test administered by the department during orientation to determine their appropriate level.

Suggested Course Sequence.

French 101-102 (or 103), 205-206 (or 203), 301, other 300-level courses in French, followed by 400 level courses. French 301 or the equivalent (via SAT-II or placement exam scores, or AP) is the prerequisite for other courses at the 300 level unless otherwise noted. Two 300-level courses beyond 301 are the prerequisite for the courses at the 400-level. Other prerequisites may be noted: see the course descriptions below.

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