First-year French courses improve your basic language skills and introduce you to the cultures of the French-speaking world while you concurrently build proficiency through applied language components of courses taught in English. This allows you to read and discuss, in French, selected texts and materials pertinent to the subject matter of courses outside the department in a wide variety of disciplines by meeting one extra hour a week with instructors to discuss the texts in French.
Subsequent courses offer further development of intermediate language skills in all areas, usually in the context of French and Francophone cultures. Advanced conversation courses at the 300 level really prepare you to live and get along in a French-speaking society on a practical daily basis. Advanced grammar and composition assures that you develop writing skills and consolidate your grammar and vocabulary abilities.
Some of your classes will explore the culture of France: Paris as a center of French culture, medieval France, the Enlightenment, or women in France. You might study literature at a more advanced level covering different genres and styles and the principal literary movements and authors of French and Francophone literature, or take a course on the great cinematic tradition of French and French-speaking countries, viewing at least a film a week
Electives also explore cultures of French-speaking countries and regions outside France (Québec, Africa, the Caribbean, New England, etc.). Topics could be the culture of Québec; Haitian culture through its art; sub-Saharan Francophone literature; New England’s Franco-Americans; or the oral tradition in Francophone culture.
Advanced literature studies might look at a single author, work or movement, or be of a topical nature: for example, Medieval Literature or the Nineteenth Century Novel.
In the capstone course for majors, you'll use the skills and knowledge gained over the course of your studies on campus and abroad to produce a substantial academic essay written in the language of the major.
Beyond all these possibilities, the Department of Modern Languages also offers other courses taught in English. Study Quebec or Italian Cinema; read Russian Literature or delve into Russian Culture and History; "Topics" courses offer essentially unlimited possibilities. One of the best parts of majoring in Modern Languages is just how personalized your course of study can be, and under close and attentive mentorship.
The hard part might be deciding which study-abroad experience in a French-speaking culture will best suit your personal interests. One in three Saint Michael's students in general spends a semester or year abroad. As you might guess, the figure is much higher for Modern Languages students. Visit our Study Abroad Europe Page to explore our locations.
Study Abroad Politi Scholarships
A limited number of scholarships are available to support study in countries and programs that the College believes offer optimum learning opportunities. The scholarships are made possible through the Dr. A. Francis Politi International Fund.
Applications for study abroad programs emphasizing experiential learning opportunities (field based research, internships, student teaching, and service learning) or study in a language that is not the student's primary language will be given priority. Grants will range from $1,000 - $1,800. An academic year student can apply for a maximum of $2,000. The scholarships will be applied to the student's accounts.
Special consideration will be given to students who study in the following regions of the world:
- Central and Latin America
- Middle East
- Non-English speaking countries in Europe in which the student studies in the language of the host country and/or takes language courses.
Teaching, translating, interpreting, international journalism, business, law, foreign service, the travel industry or graduate studies in French literature are some post-graduation or career possibilities for French majors.