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Elementary and Intermediate Courses (FREN 1010- FREN 2320)

0FRENCH 1010 – 2320

The Required Course Sequence--General Information

FREN 1010, 1020, 1050, 2010, 2020 and 2320 focus on the learning and acquisition of the French language with the goal of developing communicative competence and cross-cultural understanding in relation to the Francophone world.  The elementary and intermediate-level courses incorporate a balanced emphasis on vocabulary and grammar, oral skills, listening and reading strategies, and process writing. Use of authentic texts (video, audio, and print), including literary and cultural readings, short films, television, music, and Internet media, provide the basis for development of linguistic skills, communicative competence, and cultural awareness. The sequence is designed around an interactive, communicative approach, with a focus on communication in meaningful contexts. Class is conducted entirely in French.

To complete the foreign language requirement in the College of Arts & Sciences, students may not take courses out of sequence (e.g., 1020 then 1010) or skip a course in the sequence (e.g., 1020 then 2020), nor may they enroll in sequenced courses simultaneously. Click here for more information on placement in French courses.

Final decisions about placement in French language courses in the sequence FREN 1010-2320 are the responsibility of the Director of the Language Program (Karen James:

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Please use the link below to view information about the current course materials, available both in the University of Virginia Bookstore and from the publisher (Vista Higher Learning). 

***Click here for important details about text book purchasing options***

Final decisions about placement in French language courses in the sequence FREN 1010-2320 are the responsibility of the Director of the Language Program (Karen James:

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General Textbook Policies

We are aware of the high cost of textbooks and offer the following policies and suggestions for keeping prices down:

  • Students in FREN 1010 will use the same textbook and materials in 1020. Likewise, the textbooks and materials for FREN 2010 carry over to FREN 2020.
  • When we want to change textbooks, we wait until our current textbook is going into a new edition — which is to say, students would have to purchase new books anyway.
  • When we adopt new textbooks or new editions, we begin using these only in FREN 1010 and 2010, so that students who have already taken those courses may continue to use their books in 1020 and 2020.
  • We encourage students to share books. For instance, if you are in the in the 9:00 am section of FREN 1010 and have a friend in the 11:00 am section, consider sharing your textbook. However, note that access codes for online work cannot be shared.
  • The Language Program Director will lend textbooks to students whose financial need makes purchasing textbooks a serious burden.
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Students will complete a variety of types of assessment in each course and will collect, present evidence of, and reflect on their learning and progress in French in an individual e-portfolio. Grades will be based on the e-portfolio, chapter/unit tests, an oral exam, a final written exam, compositions, homework (including assignments completed online), and the quality of the student’s performance and engagement in class.

Students enrolled in a French course to fulfill their language requirement must take the course for a letter grade. In courses using the new specifications grading system, students will complete selected bundles of these assignments and assessment activities to a specified set of criteria in order to earn their final letter grade. As in the traditional grading system, the quality of the students’ work in and out of class plays an important role in the final course grade earned. Students taking a French course as an elective may take the class on the credit/no credit basis but must confirm permission to do so with the instructor in the first week of class. To earn a grade of credit, a student must have a course average of C or better.

In the elementary and intermediate sequence (FREN 1010-2320), students must earn a final course grade of C or better in order to proceed to the next course in the sequence. Students who do not earn a C or better in one of these courses may not enroll in the next course without presenting evidence of significant additional preparation to do so to the Language Program Director. Students with low passing grades (C- to D-), should consult the Language Program Director, Karen James (, at the end of the semester to discuss their plans for review and remedial preparation and how they will document that preparation before enrolling in the subsequent course.


You will create an e-portfolio in French to document your progress and development, highlighting learning processes and tools for ongoing development, and showcasing your work in each course. This will also serve as a platform for collaboration with classmates on certain tasks and assignments. The e-portfolio will contribute to the knowledge building of the whole class, provide a more holistic assessment of your linguistic and cultural competence over one or more semeSters, and may eventually serve to present a global picture of your skills and achievements to future employers. You will use the e-portfolio to document your progress in your formal and informal writing, your oral production, and your cultural awareness and cross-cultural understanding.  The final version of your e-portfolio will be due on the last day of class.  Detailed guidelines and instructions will be distributed by your instructor.

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Homework assignments, oral and written, are designed to help you learn and practice grammatical forms and vocabulary at home, and to give you listening and reading practice in preparation for in-class activities based on real-life uses of the language and authentic texts from print, audio, and video sources. For every lesson in your textbook, you will complete corresponding written and oral homework online at You will have multiple attempts at some exercises, and, in those cases, your grade will be based on your highest score. All exercises, whether online or on paper, must be completed by the due date in order to receive credit.  Students may access and complete the online assignments from any computer, but are also urged to take advantage of the resources available in the Arts & Sciences Language Lab and Language Commons, Suite 298, New Cabell Hall (  

Writing Assignments

In both the elementary and intermediate level, you will have numerous written assignments, both informal and formal.  Your work in both types of writing will be represented in your e-portfolio. Formal written work (i.e., tâches écrites or compositions) are graded on the following criteria:

Preparation and Editing. Has the writer used planning and editing guides as assigned? Has the writer presented information clearly? Has the writer carefully checked and corrected subject / verb agreements, adjective / noun agreements, and gender agreements? Has the writer carefully checked and corrected spelling (including accents)?

  1. Vocabulary. Is the vocabulary sufficiently precise, elaborate, and appropriate for the topic, considering the course level?
  2. Grammar and Syntax. Is the writer adequately applying the grammatical rules s/he has studied? Is the syntax sufficiently complex and French? Has the writer used French sentence structure learned so far, or do sentences seem to be translated directly from English into French?  Do errors obscure meaning?
  3. Content and Style. Has the writer understood and addressed the topic assigned? Is the content interesting and rich enough for the student's level? Is the topic addressed in sufficient depth and detail? Do sentences (paragraphs, ideas) flow logically?  In specific writing genres (letters, essays, reviews, explications de texte, etc.), are essential organizational elements used appropriately (topic sentences, transitions, introductions, conclusions, salutations, etc.)? Does the writer show awareness of the real and/or implied reader's needs? Are tone and register appropriate to the writing sample and its reader?

Your instructor will distribute detailed guidelines for the writing process and a grading rubric to indicate how each aspect of your written assignment will be assessed. 

Due Dates

All assignments are due at the beginning of class on the date for which they are assigned or at the time specified by the instructor.  Late assignments will not be accepted for credit.

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Culture Points

To encourage you to take advantage of opportunities on Grounds to hear and to speak French and to learn more about the cultures of the francophone world, students may earn a limited number of “extra credit” points on lesson tests by attending and participating in approved events, followed by submission of a written or oral report and reaction to the experience/event. Detailed guidelines will be distributed in class. 

Absences, Attendance & Participation

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The first week of class

Many sections of elementary and intermediate French will be full, with students waiting to enroll in classes when space becomes available.  For that reason, we consider any student on the class roster or waitlist who misses the first two class meetings to have dropped the class.  If you have an exceptional and compelling reason for missing the first two classes, you must contact the instructor in advance to explain your situation and to ask for permission to remain enrolled in the class. (Students may not add into a FREN 1010-2320 class after the first week of the semester unless they have permission to do so from the Language Program Director in French.)

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Participation, Preparation, and Contribution to the Class

In order for you to progress in your understanding and ability to speak the language, you must hear and speak it on a regular basis. Active participation is extremely important in a language class focused on communicative competence, which also assumes that all students will be present and prepared to participate in pair and group activities in each class period. Being prepared and on time for class, asking and answering questions, engaging your fellow students during classroom activities are all part of active in-class participation. The participation portion of your grade will reflect your overall contribution to the learning atmosphere in the form of preparation, active involvement during classroom activities, attention to me and to classmates who are speaking French, and your willingness to speak French.

Attendance is obviously the first step toward effective participation and progress in the language. 

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Attendance Policy

Attendance is the foundation of your effective engagement and progress in the language learning process. The goal of the policy outlined below is to encourage the regular attendance that will help you succeed in French. 

  • Please note that multiple absences, even if excused, inevitably have a negative impact on the student's grade, since so much practice takes place in class.
  • Students should treat any absences from classes as they would any missed appointment or absence from a job. If at all possible, contact (or have a friend contact) the instructor before class.
  • You are expected to arrive for class on time, ready to participate when class begins. Arriving late once may be unavoidable but, beyond that, even minor tardiness will lower the participation grade. Arriving more than 10 minutes late = ½ an absence.
  • Absences will be excused for:
    • serious personal illness (reported before the class period, or immediately thereafter in case of an emergency)
    • death in the family; illness in the family which requires the student to return home
    • observance of religious holidays (reported in advance) o participation in university-sponsored varsity sports events (Students must present this information in writing in the first week of the semester.)
    • Students whose extenuating circumstances require special attendance accommodations in all courses should ask their Association Dean to provide this information to all instructors.
  • Unexcused absences: We know there may be a day when you need or choose to miss class for reasons other than those listed above, so each student is allowed two (2) unexcused absences in a French course meeting two times per week and three (3) unexcused absences in a course meeting 3 or more times per week. Please note the following penalties for additional unexcused absences beyond these limits:
    • In courses using the traditional grading system: For each additional unexcused absence beyond the limits noted above, one percentage point will be deducted from your final grade.
    • In courses using the specifications grading system: For each additional unexcused absence beyond the limits noted above, your final grade will be lowered by one degree of the letter grade (A- to B+, C to C-, etc.). In addition, students who exceed the maximum unexcused absences or total allowed absences will not meet the criteria for attendance in the grade bundles.
    • Please remember that you are responsible for completing the assigned work on schedule even if you must miss class.
  • Total Absences: By course and department policy, students who exceed the number of absences noted below, whether excused or unexcused, will be removed from the roster and expected to withdraw from the course in the SIS. After the Withdraw deadline, a student must remain enrolled, incurring the penalties for additional absences and receiving the grade s/he has earned, often an “F” in the case of excessive absences.
    • For classes meeting four times a week: eight (8) absences
    • For classes meeting three times a week: six (6) absences
    • For classes meeting two times a week: four (4) absences
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Why do participation and attendance matter in French courses?

Participation and attendance matter in French classes at UVA for three basic reasons. The first has to do with the purpose of the courses themselves: we have designed French courses to build communicative competence in French. In other words, students should not only be able to understand and recognize and think through linguistic features (in reading passages, on objective and fill-in-the blank tests), but they should also, and more importantly, be able to use the language in real-life contexts, in conversation and in writing.

Compare learning a language to developing athletic skills or playing a musical instrument. A swim team may gain a great deal by studying physiology and nutrition, and by watching videotapes of swimmers with good techniques. But regular practice is absolutely essential to improving performance. Likewise, a pianist may gain a great deal from studying music theory, but without individual and guided practice, performance suffers. The classroom is generally the only place for students to perform guided practice using French as they balance a busy schedule here at UVA. This is why we offer small classes, rather than large lectures in French.

The second reason has to do with maintaining the continuity and quality of the class. One day's lesson builds on the next, and often in-class activities carry over several days. Students who are absent when a group presents a dialogue or completes a group writing project place an added burden on the students who attend that day.

This leads to the third reason: responsibility. Having to be on time, meet deadlines, and take responsibility for commitments are probably the most "real-world" tasks demanded of you at the University. Students owe it to their peers, their teachers, and themselves to take responsibility for the time commitments they have agreed to by signing up for a course.

In the interest of fairness, the French department has developed clear attendance and participation policies (see above). You will have a mid-term evaluation or self-evaluation of your participation. In most classes, your lowest quiz and test grade will be dropped.

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What is Participation?

Participation includes attendance, evidence of preparation for the day's class, attention to fellow students and the instructor, and contribution to in-class activities. Your instructor may evaluate your participation according to your performance in a number of activities, including (but not restricted to):

  • Quality and quantity of French used in discussion
  • Role-plays and skits
  • Contribution to small-group work
  • Performance on brief, announced "mini-quizzes"
  • In-class writing
  • Oral presentations (individual, and group)
  • Attention to and constructive interaction with others students and the instructor
  • Overall contribution to the classroom atmosphere
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 Policies and etiquette

  • Read carefully the departmental attendance policy printed on your syllabus and posted on the web.
  • As the policy states, absences for serious illness are excused. No doctor's excuse is required; however a few rules of common sense and courtesy do apply. Read on.
  • Don't be a no-show. If you get sick or have a family emergency, handle it as you would any appointment you need to cancel, any workday you have to miss. Call or e-mail your instructor before the class begins. If you are in a hurry, have a friend do this for you. Do not disappear without a word and then ask/expect your instructor to excuse or accommodate you.
  • Designate a classroom "buddy" who will let you know what you missed. The most unimpressive question you can ask any teacher is, "Did I miss anything important?" The answer is always "yes." To make a good impression, don't ask! Instead, take it upon yourself to come back to class having already obtained notes and handouts from your buddy.
  • Athletes and students who must attend other university-sponsored events in conflict with class time: give your instructor an official list of the classes you have to miss for games, performances, etc., early in the semester, during the first week if possible. These are excused, but only if the instructor is notified well ahead of time.
  • Lengthy absences due to extenuating circumstances must be handled case-by-case. Students who must miss many class sessions due to a family emergency, a prolonged illness, etc., should have their Association Dean contact all instructors, asking them to make special accommodations. Again, do not disappear, and do not ask for special accommodations after the fact. Because so much practice and learning takes place in class, students who must miss many classes may have a great deal of trouble making up missed work. Talk to your instructor and your Association Dean to see if it makes sense to withdraw from the course and start over at a better time.
  • Arriving late: Everyone is late for class at least once. When your time comes, enter the room quietly. If you say, “Excusez-moi, je suis en retard,” your instructor will be so impressed that s/he might forget to be disturbed by the interruption. Nonetheless, your instructor will keep track of late arrivals and you will incur penalties for additional tardiness. (See the Attendance Policy section for details.)

The Honor Code

No one at UVa is exempt from the obligation to understand the honor code, and to abide by it at all times. Consult the Honor Committee website at : . All work for French courses is considered to be pledged, whether or not the student has written the pledge on the assignment. 

Please note that seeking unauthorized help from friends, family, and other students (unless your teacher has organized cooperative projects or peer-revision) are honor violations in French just as they are in any other course. Any help authorized by the instructor should be acknowledged in writing on the submitted assignment.

The written assignments are designed to assess your ability to use the vocabulary and grammatical structures of your current level. We expect to see, as much as possible, your creativity with and mastery of the limited resources that you have. You are welcome, of course, to look up in a dictionary or online some words and/or expressions that are not provided by your textbook; but any excessive use of online translators (e.g., writing first in English and using an online translator to translate your paper in French) is counterproductive and constitutes an honor violation. 

If you have any questions about the appropriate use of online references or other sources of information, please check with your instructor. 

Questions about the elementary and intermediate French courses? Please contact the Language Program Director in French, Karen James.