Elon University Exemplary French Program


Elon University, Elon, NC
AATF member: Olivia Choplin

A Thriving Program with Active Faculty and Students:


During a time when foreign-language programs are seeing cuts across the board at many universities, Elon University’s French program is growing and thriving. Our faculty are active teacher-scholar-mentors, with research agendas in various disciplines of French and Francophone studies and in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning related to second language acquisition and foreign language pedagogy. They regularly present at national and international conferences and have been recognized on campus for their teaching excellence. With an active French Club, a chapter of Pi Delta Phi, and a strong presence in the Polyglot Floor living learning community, French is a visible and vibrant part of the university community. Recent graduates have been accepted to or completed graduate work at Florida State University, Vanderbilt University, Sciences Po, the University of Virginia, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the University of Maryland. During their studies at Elon, many students present their undergraduate research on campus at the Spring Undergraduate Research Forum, the Undergraduate Conference on Languages and Cultures at Elon University, and several have presented or will present off campus in venues as prestigious as the National Conferences for Undergraduate Research, the 20th Century French and Francophone Studies Colloquium, and the American Council for Quebec Studies Biennial Conference. Many of our graduates obtain positions via the TAPIF, where they continue to improve their French while teaching English in France. Others use their French in the realms of international business and international relations.

Creative and Rigorous Curriculum

Elon’s French curriculum offers a wide variety of creative courses with a small number of faculty. Our departmental learning outcomes are designed to help us avoid the problematic dichotomy that has traditionally existed (and has been widely commented since the 2007 MLA report) between “language” and “content” courses. We use a student-centered approach to language learning that combines the best of the communicative language classroom with literacy-based approaches and affords students opportunities to engage with cultural questions more deeply, even as beginners in the language. We prepare students to be advanced speakers, listeners, writers and readers of the French language via a highly scaffolded series of engaging courses.

Two examples of our most innovative and interdisciplinary courses encourage students to use their French creatively outside of the traditional classroom setting: FRE 349-French Theater in Production (which was first offered in January 2012) and FRE 378-French Cultural Shifts Through Music (offered for the first time in Spring 2016). During the January term, FRE 349 students engage in a full-length production of a French play that is presented to a public audience at the end of the month with projected English subtitles. Molière, Ionesco, and Beckett have all been part of the repertoire. A short film about the first iteration of the course can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MJTWn8ve4vE.The entire performance of Ionesco’s Scène à quatre can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SpYxDaOlrEw. FRE 348 offers students the opportunity to compose and perform their own texts in French around a chosen theme. In Spring 2016, after spending an entire semester examining and researching the widespread implications of the May '68 cultural revolution, students wrote and performed their own multimedia show related to those events (in collaboration with students and faculty in the Department of Music). Highlights and pictures from the program can be found on the student-created Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/liberteegalitesexualite/

As a culmination of the creative and rigorous work they have undertaken in all of their courses at Elon, senior French majors complete an independent research project in their Capstone Seminar during the fall of their final year of study. The Capstone is designed according to an apprenticeship model, where the teaching faculty member makes the messy process of research visible to novice scholars by walking them through the steps that an expert takes when s/he is working on a new research project. They are guided through the development of a research question, detailed textual analysis, engagement with the current scholarship related to the question, and the writing of a conference-length paper and research presentation. Via this process, students learn to approach their research in the ways that experts do.

For more information on our courses offerings and course descriptions, see Elon’s SMART catalog.

Dedication to Study Abroad


All French majors are required to study abroad for a semester, and French minors are strongly encouraged to do so. Incoming students will have the benefit of taking a newly developed course: Preparing for and Processing the Study Abroad Experience. With a cohort of students who will all study abroad in the same semester, students will follow a 4-credit hour sequence (1 sh. before departure; 1 sh. while abroad; 2 sh. upon return) taught in English by a faculty member from the Department of World Languages and Cultures. By preparing a cohort of students in advance for their study abroad experience, mentoring them via online discussion forums while they are abroad, and debriefing their experiences with them upon their return, this course provides a meaningful space in which students can process their time abroad. It will help students minimize the reverse culture shock that many feel upon their return to campus while maximizing the integration of their time abroad with the rest of their undergraduate experience.

Elon students can study abroad in a variety of programs that offer coursework in French and/or opportunities to use French on a daily basis: three semester or year programs in France, two in Senegal, one in Morocco, and one in Rwanda. We also offer a two-year Dual Degree program in International Business with the NEOMA School of Management in Reims, France. Students who graduate from this program earn Bachelor’s degrees from both institutions. French faculty co-teach the Winter Term GBL 267: Sacred Space and the Place of Religion in 21st-Century France with a colleague from the Department of Religious Studies, and students enrolled in Intermediate French II in the spring semester will have ten days of embedded study abroad in Montreal and Quebec City during Spring Break.

The best place to see the activities and passions of Elon University’s French program is the Facebook page: All Things French at Elon University. “Like” us and you can follow our progress!

 For full information on applying for Exemplary Program status, click here.  

Created: October 16, 2016
Last Update: October 16, 2016