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French

The Breakdown

Maybe it’s the mimes or the taste of a freshly buttered baguette. Perhaps it’s the lyrical way the language drips off the tongue. It could be the revolutions or Victor Hugo. It’s also likely to be the powerful combination of a romance language and a culture that has spawned many an artistic movement. Of course, regardless of the answer, you realize you’re smitten with French. And thus a major is born.

As a French major, you’ll certainly have your fair share of classes focusing on conversation, composition and grammar. Fortunately, studying a language at the collegiate level goes far beyond those brick and mortar lessons. Indeed, you will be exposed to the culture, art and history of a number of French-speaking countries. You’ll be able to study everything from the films of Godard to the literature of Proust (in the original French of course). Perhaps most exciting, you will likely have the opportunity to study abroad. And there’s no better way to learn a language than total immersion!

Should you decide to study French, you’ll need the patience and the fortitude required to achieve proficiency (not to mention fluency) in a foreign language. It also helps to have a good ear for accents and an appreciation for the nuances of grammar. Moreover, when studying another culture, it’s best to maintain an open mind. Finally, we recommend you invest in an array of berets.

Nuts and Bolts

Don’t fret; French majors don’t spend all of their time conjugating verbs. While grammar is certainly a part and parcel for the department, you’ll enroll in a variety classes designed to address all aspects of French culture and history. Courses might include French Phonetics, Advanced Grammar and Composition, Practical Translation, Business French, Francophone African Cinema, Nineteenth Century French Literature, Jung and French Literature, The Evolution of French Cinema and French Civilization: The Changing Face of French Identity.

Decisions, Decisions…

French majors love to learn about different countries and cultures, from languages to literature and all topics in between. Therefore, they might also think about studying Spanish, Italian, German, Chinese, Japanese, Russian, English, Hebrew, Portuguese, art history, international business, political science, East Asian studies, international relations, Slavic studies, Latin American studies, African studies and anthropology.

What’s Next?

You might not believe it but as a French major you’ll be uniquely positioned. Indeed, the writing and critical thinking skills you’ll hone, coupled with the international savvy acquired through studying another culture, make you quite marketable. And while teaching and translation are common, noble and attainable positions, you will discover that you are not limited to those two professions. Certainly, many graduates find positions with French-owned or multinational companies involved in a variety of different industries. Others might seek employment in international education or with study abroad companies. A handful of French majors also land jobs with NGOs, doing aid work within French-speaking countries in the third world. Government jobs, including the Foreign Service, part of the U.S. Department of State, offer other attractive routes. Lastly, the tourism and hotel industries are popular, as they allow for a high degree of interaction with international clients.


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