Course Exam—FREN 100

FREN 100 (French for Beginners I) is a three-credit, introductory French course designed for students who wish to begin learning French.  This course will familiarize students with the foundations of the French language and will help them to develop the four basic language skills of reading, writing, aural comprehension, and speaking.  This course may be taken for credit toward most degree programs, though it cannot be applied to the BA major in French.

There are no prerequisites for FREN 100, though students should be aware that this course is demanding for those with no prior knowledge of the French language.  A good understanding of English grammar is essential and students are advised not to take FREN 100 and FREN 101 (French for Beginners II) at the same time.

French for Beginners I is made up of five written assignments weighing six percent each, four oral assignments weighing three percent each, an oral examination worth eight percent, and a written examination weighing fifty percent.

Throughout this course students will learn basic vocabulary and how to write simple sentences that are grammatically and structurally correct.  Also, students will learn how to express themselves orally and in writing in simple French.  To receive credit for FREN 100, students must achieve a minimum composite grade of at least fifty percent on the five written assignments, as well as a minimum grade of at least fifty percent on the final written examination.  Students must also achieve a minimum composite grade of at least fifty percent on the four oral assignments, and a minimum grade of fifty percent on the final oral examination.

Students should note that this course contains a special course feature! Each lesson in the French in Action textbook has a corresponding video component that students are required to watch.  Students can watch these videos online or borrow them from Athabasca University Library.

Dr. Vina Tirven-Gadum has been with Athabasca University since July 1st, 2003 and has been the course coordinator for FREN 100 since she arrived.  She does not tutor the course anymore, though she did teach the course for the first two or three years of her arrival at AU.  Aside from FREN 100, she coordinates nine other French courses, namely: FREN 101 (French for Beginners II), FREN 301 (Composition française), FREN 358 (Initiation à la littérature d’expression française I), FREN 363 (Le Roman français du 20e siècle), FREN 387 (Français, langue des affaires), FREN 403 (Stylistique comparée), FREN 420 (Poésie et théâtre du 19e siècle), FREN 421 (Le Roman du 19e siècle), and FREN 422 (Littérature française du 17e siècle).

She states, “My name is Vina Tirven-Gadum.  I am an Associate professor of French language and French Literary Studies; and also, the Chair for the Centre for Humanities.  I live in Edmonton, Alberta.  In terms of my areas of specialization, I focus on the works of the Russo-French author Romain Gary, as well as other French/Francophone authors of the 19th, 20th and early 21st centuries.  My main area of specialization is in the field of linguistic fingerprinting.”

She notes FREN 100 as the most junior level French course that is offered at AU, describing it as, “designed for learners who may have taken French many years ago, have forgotten most of it, and need to refresh their knowledge of the language.  FREN 100 can also be taken by absolute beginners; although it can be quite demanding for those who have no prior knowledge of French.  It is a core course providing a solid foundation in which students may later build.  It will familiarize learners with the foundations of the French language by developing a basic proficiency in these four basic language skills: reading, writing, listening comprehension and speaking.  It is a traditional grammar-based course, focusing on the use of proper French grammar and formal French/Francophone writing.  It will introduce elements of grammar i.e.  the conjugation of regular and irregular verbs in various tenses; the formation and placement of adjectives and adverbs, the use of various types of pronouns and so forth.  It will also introduce a wide range of French vocabulary and expressions that are based on specific themes (family, food, clothing, leisure etc.).  By the end of the course, students will be able to ask and answer a variety of questions.”

She continues, “The course is based on a suggested 17–20-week schedule.  It covers the first 10 chapters of the main text-book En Bons Termes; and many chapters of French in Action.  There are no quizzes, no multiple-choice questions in this course.  Instead there are four written assignments, based on material studied in the first ten chapters of En Bons Termes (for example assignment No 1 covers material presented in chapters 1-4; assignment No 2 focuses on material studied in chapters 1-6 and so forth.)  Students will also have to write a short French composition of 150–175 words on a given topic.  Also, there are four oral assignments based on material studied in French in Action which students will have to do with their tutors over the phone.  Students will also have to take a final oral exam on the phone with their tutor; plus, they must write a final written exam.  This is a closed book invigilated exam.  Students are not allowed to use textbooks, workbooks, notes, tapes, cell phones, hand-held computers or laptop computers, other electronic/digital devices or to consult with other people while writing this examination.”

When asked about the work ethic students will have to have to be successful in this course, she states “As this is offered as a Distance education course, students have the flexibility to study at their own pace and set their own schedule – but it also requires motivation, commitment and perseverance to do well in FREN 100.  I often tell students that in order to be successful in this course, they should spend between 10-15 hours of study a week.”

As for which aspect of FREN 100 is the most difficult for students to understand, she states “The most difficult aspect of the course is probably the large number of verb conjugation, verb tenses, French vocabulary and so forth that they will have to memorize, in order to succeed in it.  That is why I always stress to students that cramming for their final exam does not work with a course like FREN 100.”

Whether FREN 100 is a program requirement of yours or learning a new language is of interest to you, this course will have you learning the basics of the French language.  Understanding the French language is extremely beneficial when living in Canada, especially being that it is one of the two official languages.

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