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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, especially business, international studies and communications. 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. Our curriculum combines a broad-based liberal arts education with a focus on language study. 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.

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.

“I graduated from Elon in May 2010 and moved to Paris shortly after to pursue my master's degree. I am now working full-time in Paris for Orange, France’s largest telecommunications company, as a marketing and innovation consultant. My job is to help our clients understand and better integrate new digital tools within their company. I work with French and international clients on a daily basis, often speaking more French than English. Without French, I would not be able to do my job. I have learned so much living and working in Paris, and I am very thankful for the skills I developed while studying French at Elon.”

Christina Peterson ’10

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.

On-campus opportunities

Elon students may enhance their on-campus learning by participating in the Language House living-learning community, 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 complete a capstone research project in French,which they present in December of their senior year, and they are encouraged to participate in Elon’s annual Spring Undergraduate Research Forum (SURF). Recent presentations covered research on language and nationality, Charles de Gaulle’s political legacy, humor and immigrant literature, and feminism in nineteenth-century French literature.

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 is the recipient of the Excellence in Teaching award from Elon's College of Arts & Sciences in 2010. Her current projects focus on developing connections between students and French-speaking communities - both locally and worldwide via internet technology.  
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.
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.

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.

“I am currently pursuing an MA in art history at American University in Washington, D.C. Knowledge of the French language has proved useful time and time again, especially with regards to my graduate studies. I come across French artists, authors, terms, etc. on almost a daily basis whether in class or doing homework assignments. I often find myself using sources in French for various research projects (sources which I would not have otherwise been able to find in English). French has really broadened what I am able to access, understand, and ultimately accomplish as a graduate student.

Caitlin Glosser '12

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, language translation or business. 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, and the University of Maryland.

Visit the Website for the French program.

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