FREN 200 (First Year University French I) is a three-credit introductory French course that trains students in verbal and written French as a continuation of FREN 100 (French for Beginners I) and FREN 101 (French for Beginners II). The course enables students to improve reading, writing, listening, and speaking skills. FREN 200 leads the students through a major review of grammar, develops the students’ ability to understand and compose short passages and to discuss social and cultural topics.
Students should note that FREN 101 or equivalent is required to enroll in FREN 200. Students are also advised to not take FREN 200 and FREN 201 (First Year University French II) simultaneously. FREN 200 and FREN 201 are designed to be taken successively. There is a challenge for credit option if that is something that interests you. FREN 200 cannot be taken for credit if credit has already been obtained for FREN 242.
First Year University French I is made up of twelve units: five written assignments weighing twenty percent, five oral assignments weighing twenty percent, a composition assignment weighing ten percent, an oral examination worth ten percent, and a written examination worth forty percent of your final grade. To receive credit for FREN 200, students must complete and submit the five written assignments, the five oral assignments, the composition assignment, the final oral examination, and the final written examination. Students must also achieve a course composite grade of at least fifty percent and a grade of at least fifty percent on the written examination.
Kristen Smart has been working at Athabasca University since June of 2007 and she started tutoring FREN 200 at that time. She states, “When our coordinator is on leave, I have the opportunity to work as acting coordinator. This has given me a greater appreciation for our wonderful support team at Athabasca University. It is amazing how efficiently we are able to connect and communicate via email!”
Alongside FREN 200 she tutors FREN 100 (French for Beginners I), FREN 101 (French for Beginners II), FREN 200 (First Year University French I), FREN 201 (First Year University French II), and FREN 405 (Translation from French to English). She is also the acting coordinator for FREN 200 (First Year University French I), FREN 201 (First Year University French II), FREN 305 (La littérature jeunesse), FREN 362 (Second Year University French), FREN 374 (Littérature québécoise), FREN 375 (Vocabulary Expansion), and FREN 405 (Translation from French to English).
I asked Kristen to introduce herself and she shared, “My name is Kirsten Smart. I am a French tutor at Athabasca University, and I live in Edmonton, Alberta. Prior to becoming a tutor at Athabasca, I had the opportunity to live in and teach in France, which developed my appreciation for French language and culture. Upon my return to Canada, I pursued a Masters in Translation at the University of Alberta, assuming translation would be my career path. Part of the program involved a teaching component, where I had the opportunity to teach 100- and 200- level French courses. I quickly learned that teaching was the best way so share the beauty of French with others. After I graduated, I continued to teach at the University of Alberta as a sessional instructor, then started teaching at Grant MacEwan University as well as for the Government of Alberta. I feel very fortunate to have my position at AU. Teaching distance education has allowed me to work from home while having flexible hours, which has been very helpful while raising our young family.”
She describes FREN 200 as “a first year-level university course that enables students to use French in social situations and to talk about themselves, their opinions, and their experiences. This course leads the student through a major review of grammar and develops their ability to understand and compose short passages. This course may be taken for credit toward most degree programs and can be applied to the BA major in French.”
Kristen highlights that FREN 200 was revised in September 2017, stating “we have been receiving a lot of positive feedback from students in terms of the new format. It includes twelve modules and is designed to be completed in a thirteen-week period. In each module, students read a short introduction to the topics covered, then do the readings from the assigned chapter in the textbook as well as the accompanying exercises. There is an answer key available on the course home page in PDF format, which allows students to check their work and understanding of the material. Each module also provides listening comprehension exercises, which can be downloaded from the textbook publisher’s website, in order to practise aural comprehension.”
She continues, “Throughout the modules, there are also links to the short films on which part of each oral exercise is based, short Adobe Connect grammar lessons intended to supplement or summarize the grammar explanations in the manual, and also some online, self-correcting practice exercises. Oral exercises, based on a set of questions found within the modules, are done over the phone with a student’s assigned tutor.”
Kristen states that having exposure to the French language outside of the course would be beneficial, she explains “Because students work through FREN 200 independently, it is important that they be committed and motivated in order to succeed. It is recommended to spend ten to fifteen hours per week on the course. It is also helpful if students are able to incorporate French into their lives on a daily basis. Some suggestions include reading aloud, listening to French music or podcasts, and watching French films. Also, I strongly recommend that students take the time to learn and memorize the material as they work their way through the course. This makes it less overwhelming at the end of the course when preparing for the final exam.”
Learning a new language is not always easy. Kristen explains what she believes students will take away from FREN 200, stating “The course develops the students’ ability to understand and compose short passages and to discuss social and cultural topics at a basic level. For many students, learning a second language also provides a better understanding of the grammatical aspects and vocabulary in English, as they compare and contrast sentence structures and find similarities in the roots of different words. Learning a new language provides an opportunity to explore the world from a new perspective, and to communicate our ideas in new ways.”
When I asked what aspects of the course is the most difficult or that students struggle with, Kristen states “Students often find the memorization of verb conjugations and grammatical elements to be the most difficult at this level. Fortunately, there are a number of helpful resources available on the course website, including videos that explain grammar rules and verb conjugations. It can be helpful to have new concepts explained in different ways.”
Whether FREN 200 is a degree or program requirement or if the topics above are of interest to you, this course will have you improving your ability to read, write, listen, and speak in French!