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Elementary and Intermediate Courses (FREN 1010- FREN 2320)

FRENCH 1010 – 2320

The French Language Program (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  world 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.
  • If purchasing the textbook/code represents a serious burden for you at this time, please consult the Language Program Director who will be glad to point you to possible sources of assistance.
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Students will complete a variety of types of assessment activities in each course and will collect, present evidence of, and reflect on their learning and progress in French in an individual ePortfolio. In addition to the student ePortfolio, components of the grade, depending on the specific course, may include online quizzes, formal and informal writing tasks, unit tests and/or integrated target tasks, an oral exam and a final written exam or a final integrated performance project/assessment, daily homework (including assignments completed online), attendance and the quality of the student’s 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 1010-2020), 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 they may enroll in the subsequent course.


You will create an ePortfolio in French to document your progress and development, highlighting your learning processes and evidence of your ongoing linguistic development and expanding cultural awareness of cultures of the French-speaking world, and showcasing your accomplishments in each course. This will also serve as a platform for collaboration with classmates on certain tasks and assignments. The ePortfolio 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 ePortfolio 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 ePortfolio will be due at the end of the semester.  Detailed guidelines, instructions, and due dates 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 studied in the class? Is the syntax sufficiently complex,following the French examples used in class? 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, 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. 

Please note that in most cases students will be instructed not to use Google Translate or ChatGPT or any other AI tools for translation for writing tasks in the class because the objective of these assignments is not to produce perfectly polished written texts, but to communicate your ideas effectively in your own voice, putting into practice the French you are learning in the course. Dictionaries remain an invaluable resource in this process, and using a dictionary effectively is another skill to be acquired in your writing for this course.

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 or target tasks 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

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 1010-2020 class after the first week of the semester unless they have permission to do so from the Language Program Director in French.)

Attendance Policy

Attendance is the foundation of active engagement in class, a key to effective progress in your language learning process. Taken holistically, engagement includes careful preparation for and thoughtful participation in all course activities in a timely manner and in a way that contributes to and supports your learning and that of your classmates, including commitment to immersion in French during class sessions. The advice and policy details outlined below are intended to encourage the regular attendance and engagement with the course and the class community of learning that will help you succeed in French.

Why do participation and attendance matter in French courses?

Please note these three basic reasons:

  • The first has to do with the purpose of the courses themselves: we have designed our 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, but they should also be able to use the language in real-life contexts. Much of this type of communication will happen in activities conducted in class.

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 lot from studying music theory, but without individual and guided practice, performance suffers and no real progress is possible. The classroom is generally the only (or primary) 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 coherence and quality of the class for all members. One day's lesson builds on the next, and in-class activities often carry over several days. Students who are absent when a group prepares or 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. Out of respect for their peers, their teachers, and themselves, students take responsibility for the time commitments they have agreed to by signing up for a course. Fortunately, meeting this responsibility will directly benefit your own learning, your grade, and hopefully your satisfaction with your progress in French.

Expectations of all students

Because our courses revolve around communication, including many in-class activities conducted with a partner or small group and guided by the instructor, and because each class is a community that depends on the active presence of all members, students are expected to attend all classes unless a significant event or illness or a religious holiday prevents them from doing so; in these cases, students must inform the instructor as far in advance as possible and are still responsible for work due on a day when absent. Students who will miss class because of participation in university-sponsored varsity sports events must present their schedule information in writing in the first week of the semester.

Along with emphasizing the importance of attendance and active engagement, we also recognize that occasionally there are circumstances beyond our control that may result in a need to miss a class. For this reason, we have adopted the following policy for absences in FREN 1010-2020:

In classes meeting 2 times/week:

  • Students may miss up to two classes with no grade penalty.*
  • One or two additional absences (beyond the first two) will result in one to two percentage points deducted from the final grade average in courses with the traditional grading system. In courses using the specifications grading system, one or two additional absences (beyond the first two) will lower your final grade by one degree of the letter grade (A- to B+, C to C-, etc.) for each additional absence.

In classes meeting 3 times/week:

  • Students may miss up to three classes with no grade penalty.*
  • Up to three additional absences (beyond the first three) will result in up to three percentage points (one per each additional absence) deducted from the final grade average in courses with the traditional grading system. In courses using the specifications grading system, up to three additional absences (beyond the first three) will lower your final grade by one degree of the letter grade (A- to B+, C to C-, etc.) for each additional absence.

In classes meeting 4 times/week:

  • Students may miss up to four classes (beyond the first four) with no grade penalty.*
  • Up to four additional absences (beyond the first four) will result in up to four percentage points (one per each additional absence) deducted from the final grade average in courses with the traditional grading system.

*In case of any absence, students should contact the instructor in advance, if possible, and are still responsible for submitting assignments on time (or for contacting the instructor in advance if an extension on an assignment may be needed due to serious illness).

Total Absences: 

Students who exceed the limit of total absences noted (the equivalent of two weeks of class for the class schedule) will be expected to withdraw from the course in the SIS.

—For classes meeting two times a week: four (4) absences

—For classes meeting three or four times a week: six (6) absences

—For classes meeting four times a week: eight (8) absences

After the Withdraw deadline, a student who exceeds the limit of absences must remain enrolled, incurring the penalties for additional absences, usually receiving a course grade of F. In addition, students in courses using the specifications grading system who exceed the total absences limit will not meet the criteria for attendance in the grade bundles.

In the case of on-going physical or mental health needs that may result in more extensive absences, students must contact (as appropriate) their Association Dean or SDAC Advisor for guidance regarding their situation and appropriate exceptional accommodations that may allow them to complete the course successfully. The instructor and student will discuss any proposed exception to the policy with the Language Program Director and, if possible, agree on reasonable accommodations within the objectives and framework of the course and adhere to them. Any exceptions to the policy must be approved in writing before the student exceeds the total absences limit.

Without such an agreement and approval from instructor and LPD, students who are absent for more than the equivalent of two weeks of classes (not necessarily sequentially) will be expected to withdraw from the course.

A few rules of common sense and courtesy:

  • It’s important to arrive on time for class, ready to participate when class begins. 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. Nevertheless, your instructor will keep track of late arrivals, and you will incur penalties in your participation grade for additional tardiness. Arriving more than 10 minutes late will be considered ½ an absence. If you anticipate any difficulties with this, please consult your instructor as soon as possible. 
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Materials used in class will also generally be available from your instructor on the course site in Canvas, so be sure to check those resources if you are absent. Pay attention to deadlines so that you are sure to turn in any assignments due that day.


If you anticipate or experience any barriers to learning in this course, please feel welcome to discuss your concerns with me. If you have a disability, or think you may have a disability, you may also want to meet with the Student Disability Access Center (SDAC), to request reasonable accommodation(s) for this course. You can find more information about SDAC, including how to apply for services online, through their website at If you have already been approved for accommodations through SDAC, please make sure to send me your Faculty Notification Letter as soon as possible and meet with me so we can develop an implementation plan together.

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.