|The purpose of this course is not
simply to introduce the student to the language of the French-speaking
world, but to bring the student to a personal familiarity with that world
through not merely the language but also through discussions about the
culture - and what is usually the most exciting thing of all for our students
the experience of having traveled there - at least for a short period of
a week (see the above
section entitled 'Trips')!!!
The purpose of this course is to help the student develop strong French reading and speaking skills within the time span of a single school year. Students will feel pushed. But the goal is to get their language up and running so that it is truly a workable instrument, able to get them around comfortably in the context of extended travel or mission work in France.
The student is expected to memorize as much as possible of each of the 16 conversations. These conversations will form an excellent framework for all sorts of different conversations the student might find himself or herself in while in France.
During this first year, the student will be introduced to (and tested on) virtually all of the major French grammar topics. Truly, we are trying to build in this single year a strong French language foundation for the student.
The material is drawn heavily from a wonderful old college textbook -- long out of print: Julian Harris & André Lévêque's Basic Conversational French (Henry Holt, 1958). It's a bit old fashioned -- in the sense of being founded in a very strong French cultural legacy -- one that is (as with all things) being diluted rapidly by modern, secular, bland, international culture. When necessary the vocabulary has been updated. But by and large, it represents the flavoring of an old noble French cultural legacy.
So -- we will have no textbooks, but rather a large number of handouts, all of which can also be found on this website. These will be quite adequate to complete the task we have set before us!
In this second year of French we will be reading (out loud in French – and then translating for the benefit of the rest of the class into English) a number of French short stories – simplified somewhat in line with a second-year-French student’s capabilities.
In this third year of French we will be reading (again: out loud in French – and then translating for the benefit of the rest of the class into English) excerpts from French novels – simplified somewhat in line with a third-year-French student’s capabilities.
We will be using Camille Bauer’s Graded French Reader - Première Étape, 5th ed. (Heath: 1992). This book not only pushes the student ahead in the development of his or her French vocabulary but also reviews and deepens the student’s knowledge of French grammar.
In this fourth year of French we will be reading (again out loud before the rest of the class first in French and then the English translation) a single French novel – a popular 'who-done-it' featuring the ever brilliiant French detective Maigret, written by Georges Simenon. The book, Le chien jaune, is not a textbook but a standard French novel, the kind a person would find in a French bookstore (in fact we order personal copies from France – about $10 or $11, which includes the shipping costs).
In completing this French novel, the student now qualifies as fully capable French reader - at any level of French!