Guidelines for Placement in French Language Courses

For students who wish to improve their ability to communicate in French, the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies offers a series of eight courses designed to build progressively their skills in the four basic communicative functions of listening, reading, speaking and writing.
It is conceivable that a few absolute beginners who aspire to become highly proficient in French might take all eight courses, but what if you share that aspiration, but aren’t a beginner?  Where do you start?  Languages can be learned in so many different contexts that starting points are not self-evident if you decide to continue learning them in the very particular context of a university course. So, read on.
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Placement in 100-level and 200-level French…

BEGIN WITH . . .
FREN 101
  • If you have completed less than French 11 in British Columbia or completed it more than two years ago
  • If you have completed less than French 20 in a prairie province or completed it more than two years ago
  • If you have completed less than junior-year French in an American high school or completed it more than two years ago
FREN 111
  • If you have completed no more than French 11 in British Columbia or completed French 12 more than two years ago.
  • If you have completed no more than French 20 in a prairie province or completed French 30 more than two years ago.
  • If you have completed no more than junior-year French in an American high school or completed senior-year French more than two years ago.
  • If you have completed less than GCSE French in the British-system or completed it more than two years ago.
FREN 122
  • If you have completed French 12 in British Columbia within the last two years.
  • If you have completed French 30 in a prairie province within the last two years.
  • If you have completed senior-year French in an American high school within the last two years.
  • If you have completed GCSE French in the British system within the last two years.
FREN 224
  • If you have completed, at any time, a secondary-school course for which you earned transfer credit for FREN 122 & FREN 123
  • If you have completed French Immersion 12, in any place offering such a programme, with high academic standing.

The prerequisites for our 100-level and 200-level French courses may be used for guidance - that is their purpose - by students choosing the sequel to a post-secondary course that they have already taken at UBC or for which UBC has given them course-specific transfer credit.

Students considering a course for which they met the prerequisite some years ago or with only modest success and who doubt their readiness for the course they are considering may repeat the prerequisite, but bear in mind that, while the marks earned in such repeated courses enter into the calculation of sessional and cumulative averages, their credit is not countable a second time for any purpose.

BEGIN WITH . . .
  • FREN 102           if you have credit             for FREN 101
  • FREN 111            if you have credit             for FREN 102
  • FREN 112            if you have credit            for FREN 111
  • FREN 122            if you have credit            for FREN 112
  • FREN 123            if you have credit            for FREN 122
  • FREN 224            if you have credit            for FREN 123
  • FREN 225            if you have credit            for FREN 224

Many students have acquired communicative competence in French through study at institutions like the Alliance française that do not award academic credit, while others have taken college courses that are so different from UBC's that only unassigned credit (of FREN 1st or FREN 2nd) can be awarded for them.

The level of training offered by many of these courses is identified precisely, however, according to the criteria of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages,which is a guide created by the European Union, and used increasingly outside Europe as well, to grade individuals' language proficiency according to the range of communicative tasks that they can perform.

If you have taken a course, anywhere, to which a CEFR language-level has been attached, you can use it to place yourself in one of our eight communicative courses, because the syllabus of each of those courses has been established to teach the skills proper to one of the CEFR levels, and to do so out of a textbook published for use at that level in language schools.

The CEFR levels of our eight courses are:

 FREN 101 & 102  A1
 FREN 111 & 112  A2
 FREN 122 & 123  B1
 FREN 224 & 225  B2
BEGIN WITH . . .
  • FREN 102            if you have completed a course at            Level A1.1
  • FREN 111             if you have completed a course at            Level A1.2
  • FREN 112            if you have completed a course at            Level A2.1
  • FREN 122            if you have completed a course at            Level A2.2
  • FREN 123            if you have completed a course at            Level B1.1
  • FREN 224            if you have completed a course at            Level B1.2
  • FREN 225            if you have completed a course at            Level B2.1


Students for whom French is a heritage language or who have lived or worked in a French-speaking environment for long enough to have acquired some level of proficiency in it cannot be placed in university courses as precisely as those with formal training.

However, the CEFR's language levels are defined by descriptions of levels of proficiency, and students with untutored knowledge can use these descriptions to place themselves at one of the four broad levels A1, A2, B1 or B2, in preparation for a discussion, with an instructor or course coordinator, about which of the two courses at that level would be appropriate.  So here are some questions to ask yourself:

A1

A1 Listening
Can you understand familiar words and common expressions about yourself, your family and friends or your immediate environment, when they are spoken slowly and clearly?

A1 Reading
Can you understand common words, phrases and sentences in advertisements, on posters or public notices, or on web sites dealing with topics familiar to you?

A1 Speaking
Can you talk understandably for a minute or so to describe yourself, your friends and acquaintances or where you live?

A1 Conversation
Can you ask and answer questions on familiar topics or immediate needs, if speaking with someone who is willing to speak slowly, to repeat things and even to help you as needed?

A1 Writing
Can you write a brief personal note or message? Can you fill out an identity form or questionnaire?

If you cannot do these things,
you probably need further training at the A1 level, (FREN 101 and/or FREN 102)

 

A2

A2 Listening
Can you also understand basic words and expression, and complete statements, concerning work, shopping, your studies and other matters that concern you directly?

A2 Reading
Can you also extract information out of advertisements, menus, timetables and simpler web sites? And can you read a simple letter or on-line social message?

A2 Speaking
Can you also talk, in simple terms, but at greater length, about your daily life, studies or work?

A2 Conversation
Can you also ask and answer necessary questions in the context of a shared practical task (though not on the scale of a full-fledged conversation)?

A2 Writing
Can you take notes on a familiar topic, or write a short message for posting to social media?

If you cannot do these things,
You probably need further training at the A2 level (FREN 111 and/or FREN 112)

 

B1

B1 Listening
Can you understand the essential points of a radio or television newscast or of other programmes on familiar topics? Can you follow a lecture, in standard French, about your studies or personal interests?

B1 Reading
Can you understand, in a personal letter, not only narration and description, but also expressions of attitude or feeling?Can you find information in French sources as part of your studies?

B1 Speaking
Can you summarize a book or a film, or recount your own experiences? Can you express your goals or hopes for the future?  Can you express and justify your opinions?

B1 Conversation
Can you engage in sustained conversation on a familiar topic without preparation? Can you deal with most ordinary situations that might arise on a trip to a French-speaking place?

B1 Writing
Can you write a simple, but coherent letter or blog posting of modest length on a familiar topic?

If you cannot do these things,
You probably need further training at the B1 level (FREN 122 and/or FREN 123)

 

B2

B2 Listening
Can you understand a long, complex lecture on a topic related to your studies or personal interests? Can you follow most films or television programmes in standard French?

B2 Reading
Can you understand essays, reports and scholarly articles in your own field of studies or on issues of current interest? Can you read literary works in standard, contemporary French prose?

B2 Speaking
Can you communicate clearly your opinions on a wide range of topics relative to your studies and personal interests? Can you present a hypothesis and argue effectively in its defence?

B2 Conversation
Can you converse spontaneously and naturally with a native French speaker, and can you hold your own in a discussion or argument with a group of native speakers?

B2 Writing
Can you write a well organized and effectively argued essay in correct and idiomatic French? And can you write a personal letter or social-media posting that is not only informative but insightful?

If you cannot do these things,
You probably need further training at the B2 level (FREN224 and/or FREN 225)