Bringing people together through language

The technology revolution has transformed the way we communicate around the world. People in the most remote parts of the globe can seem like close neighbors. Yet our language differences continue to be a barrier to communication, which makes the study of foreign languages more important than ever.

Elon’s Department of World Languages and Cultures offers a major in French, an international language spoken in approximately 50 countries and regions on five continents. The study of French is also ideal as a second major combined with many fields in the Elon College of Arts and Sciences and the School of Communications and Love School of Business. Students majoring in another discipline can also minor in French, which provides a distinct advantage for anyone interested in a career in the international arena.

Elon’s French program helps students build advanced linguistic proficiency in French, advanced intercultural competency, and develops their ability to be critical thinkers and problem solvers in the French language. All courses in our curriculum integrate intensive language study with culturally rich content that engages students with French and Francophone cultures. Classroom learning is enhanced by digital technology as well as by opportunities to study abroad. All classes in the major curriculum, including beginning levels, are taught in French, and courses are scaffolded to build both linguistic and intercultural skills while students develop as critical thinkers. As a French major, you will expand your knowledge of French and Francophone cultures in interdisciplinary courses that integrate a variety of cultural perspectives from literature, cinema, history, the news media, and music while simultaneously developing your ability to read, speak, write, and understand the French language.

“After graduation, I headed to San Francisco to work at a tech start up interested in expanding to Canada and France. On the very first day of work I was approached by a Sales Executive in French who said he was waiting for a year to get another French speaker on board to help them manage their Quebecois clients. My French knowledge has made me stand out in a competitive industry and I look forward to continuing to use it throughout my career!”

-- Astrid Adriaens ’10 (French and International Business

Study abroad

French majors are required to study abroad for at least one semester in a university-approved program where classes are taught in French. Elon offers students a chance to broaden their awareness of other cultures through study abroad programs in Paris, Montpellier, and Lyon, France as well as Dakar, Senegal..  Students may also experience French on a daily basis while studying abroad in Rabat, Morocco. Students may also pursue a Dual Degree in International Business by spending two years at Elon University and two years at NEOMA School of Management in Reims, France.

On-campus opportunities

Elon students may enhance their on-campus learning by living on the Polyglot Floor living-learning community housed in the Global Neighborhood, weekly conversation tables and ongoing cultural events offered by the French Club and the Department of World Languages and Cultures. Exemplary students in the French program are eligible for induction into Pi Delta Phi, the national French Honor Society.

French majors enroll in a Senior Capstone Seminar in the fall of their senior year, completing an original research project in French which they present in December of their senior year. They are also encouraged to participate in Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). Recent presentations covered research on identity and nationality in the biographies of Franco-Algerian orphans, Charles de Gaulle’s political legacy, immigrant literature, humor, and race relations in France as depicted in contemporary French cinema.

Outstanding faculty

One of the hallmarks of an Elon education is the close learning relationship between faculty and students. Individual attention from professors is the norm in all majors. Faculty members are very engaged with students outside the classroom and take a personal interest in each student’s progress. Elon’s French faculty blend professional experience and academic training with a love of teaching.

Dr. Sophie Adamson’s interests include the intersections of literature, identity, popular culture, humor, social criticism and film. She was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award from Elon's College of Arts and Sciences in 2010. Her current projects focus on developing connections between students and French-speaking communities - both locally and worldwide via internet technology.  
Professor Patti Burns’ scholarly interests include translation, performance studies, Belle Epoque France, identity, food and film. Her current research focuses on second language writing and best practices for effective error correction.

Dr. Olivia Choplin’s research interests include Québécois literature and national identity related to the immigrant experience, French and francophone theater, literature and psychoanalysis, and the use of theater in the foreign-language classroom. She was the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching Award from Elon’s College of Arts and Sciences in 2015.
Dr. Sarah Glasco specializes in contemporary French literature and culture. Her scholarly interests and teaching topics include immigration policy in France, intertextuality and global culture in the novels of Jean-Philippe Toussaint, intercultural competence in study abroad programs, and literacy-based language learning. Selected as a CATL Scholar by the Center for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning for 2016-2018, she will be working on a project that integrates the teaching of social justice in Elementary French courses. 

"Choosing to be a French major at Elon was one of the most important decisions I made in college. Not only did my language skills greatly improve over the past four years, but also my knowledge of the cultural and historical richness of the francophone world expanded. After having studied abroad in the south of France for a semester and completing a senior capstone project on two nineteenth-century French novels, I will continue using my French post-graduation as a teacher in the north of Haiti.”

-- Eliza Brinkley ’15 (French)

Graduate study and career paths

As a French major, you will gain the skills and knowledge necessary to continue your studies in graduate school or to enter a variety of fields, including teaching, translation, business, and international relations, and the attention you will receive from faculty extends beyond graduation. Elon professors have developed contacts with companies, organizations and academic institutions, and they will use those resources to help you find the right job or graduate program following graduation.

French majors have a variety of career options, including:

  • International business
  • Teaching
  • Government service
  • Humanitarian service worldwide
  • Translation and interpretation

Many French majors either continue their studies at the graduate level, both domestically and abroad, or engage in other opportunities to use and develop their French skills. Recent Elon graduates have served in the Peace Corps, taught English in France thanks to the TAPIF (Teaching Assistant Program In France), pursued graduate work in International Business and International Relations in Paris and graduate work in French at Florida State University, the University of Virginia, the University of Maryland, and Vanderbilt University.

Visit the Website for the French program.

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