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About Language Programs

Our Goal

Our goal in elementary and intermediate language courses is to help students develop to the greatest possible extent competency in comprehending and producing the target language, both spoken and written, as well as in building socio-cultural competency to engage appropriately with members of the target cultures.

Our Class Focus

The main focus of classes is on communication, and we strive for maximum use of the foreign language in the classroom. Because students may have limited opportunities to speak or hear the language outside of class, classroom time is devoted to the development of competency in these areas. This means that instructors speak only French or Italian to students during class, and students are expected to do the same with their instructor and classmates.

Our Approach

The approach used in these courses can be characterized in two ways:

Communicative Courses

“Communicative” means that the focus is on language use in realistic settings, not on performing exercises with no immediate justification other than the practice of a particular procedure.

A good deal of class time is spent using the language to perform tasks that simulate authentic exchanges that occur in real life; this involves meaningful communication between students and instructors and between students.

Integrated Courses

“Integrated” means the various aspects that make up the language-learning experience are not separated or isolated but treated as complementary to one another. In a single activity, for example, students practice using language in authentic contexts or by learning academic subject content.  Grammatical structures and the communicative strategies they serve are inextricably linked to products, practices and perspectives of the target cultures.

General Education Requirements and Majors/Minors

Second-semester courses fulfilling the Foreign Language general education requirement GER) in the Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences.  Second-year courses in French and Italian count toward their respective majors and minors.  Italian 0103 fulfills the Geographic Regional GER. In addition, French 0104 (fourth semester French) fulfills the Global Issues GER, and many courses in both language programs can be applied toward several categories of the International Studies co-major.  Please contact Brett Wells (French; for more information about how to integrate these courses into your French study plan, and contact Lorraine Denman ( for more information on the Italian language program.


If you would like to register for a French course but are unsure of which French course or level you should select, we recommend that you complete the self-assessment to guide you in selecting the appropriate course. The self-assessment takes about 10 minutes to complete and will guide you through the process of selecting a French-language course based on your past experience and can-do statements. Once you have completed it, you may simply sign up for a recommended course. If you are meeting with an advisor in the Advising Center for enrollment, you should complete the self-assessment before your appointment and bring the course number for which you will register to the advisement meeting. 

Should you have questions after doing the self-assessment, please contact the French Language Program Coordinator Prof. Brett Wells ( 

The Italian Program has an online placement assessment which can be accessed here. More information is available in the placement assessment. 

Please contact the Italian Language Program Coordinator, Lorraine Denman (, with any placement questions you may have.

Why Learn French?

There are at least ten reasons

Why Learn Italian?

There are at least ten reasons.