French Language Placement Guidelines

Find out which course level to start at given your previous experience with French.

For students with…

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 201 (previously 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 301 (previously FREN 122)

  • If you have completed French 12 (or IB French B SL) 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 401 (previously FREN 224)

  • If you have completed, at any time, a secondary-school course for which you earned transfer credit for FREN 301 (previously FREN 122) & FREN 302 (previously FREN 123)
  • If you have completed French Immersion 12, in any place offering such a programme, with high academic standing.

Students can use the prerequisites for our 100-level and 200-level French courses as a guide to select 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 who doubt their readiness for the course they are considering (due to taking the prerequisite some years ago or with only modest success) may repeat the prerequisite. However, while the marks earned from these repeated courses count towards sessional and cumulative averages, the credits from these courses are not countable a second time for any purpose.

Begin with:

  • FREN 102 if you have credit for FREN 101
  • FREN 201 (previously FREN 111) if you have credit for FREN 102
  • FREN 202 (previously FREN 112) if you have credit for FREN 201 (previously FREN 111)
  • FREN 301 (previously FREN 122) if you have credit for FREN 202 (previously FREN 112)
  • FREN 302 (previously FREN 123) if you have credit for FREN 301 (previously FREN 122)
  • FREN 401 (previously FREN 224) if you have credit for FREN 302 (previously FREN 123)
  • FREN 402 (previously FREN 225) if you have credit for FREN 401 (previously FREN 224)

Many students have acquired communicative competence in French by studying 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 according to the criteria of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which is a guide created by the European Union that is also used outside Europe to grade individuals' language proficiency according to the range of communicative tasks 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. The syllabus for each course has been designed to teach the skills related to one of the CEFR levels, with a textbook that is also published for use at that level in language schools.

The CEFR levels of our eight courses are:

  • A1: FREN 101 & 102
  • A2: FREN 201 & 202 (previously FREN 111 & 112)
  • B1: FREN 301 & 302 (previously FREN 122 & 123)
  • B2: FREN 401 & 402 (previously FREN 224 & 225)

Begin with:

  • FREN 102 if you have completed a course at Level A1.1
  • FREN 201 (previously FREN 111) if you have completed a course at Level A1.2
  • FREN 202 (previously FREN 112) if you have completed a course at Level A2.1
  • FREN 301 (previously FREN 122)if you have completed a course at Level A2.2
  • FREN 302 (previously FREN 123) if you have completed a course at Level B1.1
  • FREN 401 (previously FREN 224) if you have completed a course at Level B1.2
  • FREN 402 (previously 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 long enough to have acquired some level of proficiency, cannot be placed in university courses as precisely as those with formal training.

Students with untutored knowledge can use the descriptions of levels of proficiency defined by the CEFR 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. 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 websites 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 201 (previously FREN 111) and/or FREN 202 (previously 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 301 (previously FREN 122) and/or FREN 302 (previously 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 [FREN 401 (previously FREN 224) and/or FREN 402 (previously FREN 225)].


French Placement Test

The French Placement Test is designed to gauge a student's language proficiency and suggested course of action. It is not a challenge exam, nor does it result in credits being granted.

Typically, placement tests are only necessary when students have acquired some untutored knowledge of the language (through travel, family or non-credit courses) and want to advance, or wonder whether they should advance, to courses for which they do not have official credits or prerequisites.

You don’t need to take the French Placement Test if you are one of the following:

  • A continuing UBC student who has successfully completed a French prerequisite course
  • A transfer student from a post-secondary institution with French language transfer credits
  • A new student that has studied French in high school (I.e., French Immersion, AP, IB, or Core French 11 or 12)
  • A new student with no prior French language background
  • A new or continuing student who has DELF (or DALF) certificate

If you are one of the following, please see the French Placement Guidelines above.

The placement test will be delivered during these three time-periods for the courses taking place in 2021W:

  • June 21-24, 2021
  • July 12-15, 2021
  • August 16-19, 2021

Please complete this webform to request a French Placement Test. You will receive a link on the first day of each Placement period.

Once you submit your test, you will receive one of two possible next steps via Canvas within a week:

  1. If you receive a result and a course recommendation, you don’t need to attend the interview. You can register for the course at any time.
  2. You will be asked to attend an in-person placement interview to determine your appropriate course level.

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