What's special about French at UMBC?

t UMBC the study of French is part of the major and minor programs of the department of Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication (MLLI). The MLLI faculty, which includes a unique combination of specialists in linguistics, sociology, cultural and literary studies, and pedagogy have been pioneers in developing an interdisciplinary curriculum. Most university language programs focus almost exclusively on language and literature. Not UMBC:

In the interdisciplinary MLLI program, French students participate with students of other languages in a common core of three courses that stress linguistic and cultural analysis. Therefore, aside from acquiring proficiency in French language and knowledge of the cultures of France and the French-speaking world ( the Cajuns of Louisiana, the Caribbean, Canada, West Africa...), they also learn about the fascinating dynamics of languages and cultures in general.

French courses address an exciting variety of cultural, sociological, and literary themes. UMBC French students learn about the histories, the cultures, and the social problems of the societies in which French is spoken. Classes in advanced French courses are small and offer the opportunity for individual interaction with professors.

French, an International Language

French is, after English, the most widely used lingua franca in the world. It has official status in 38 nations stretching from the Pacific (Vanuatu, Polynesia) to Africa (Senegal, Chad), North America (Haiti, Canada,) the Indian Ocean (Mauritius, Reunion), and, of course Europe (France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland). In addition, it is a widely used second language in places as far apart as Argentina, Morocco, Romania, and Vietnam. In other words, French is an extremely useful tool for anyone considering international contacts of any kind, and it is essential for Europe, Africa, and the Caribbean. Finally, France certainly had the most longstanding and profound influence of any culture on the Anglo-American tradition. For this reason, the study of French language and culture is also a search for the roots of our own experience.

Major Program
(For a complete description see the UMBC Undergraduate Catalogue.)

All majors who pursue the Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Modern Languages and Linguistics take a common core of courses, as follows:
  • MLL 190 The World of Language I (offered both semesters and typically in the Summer and Winter)
  • MLL 230 World Language Communities (offered Fall and frequently in the Summer)
  • MLL 301 Textual Analysis: Words, Images, Music (offered in the Spring)
    Although not required, MLL 191: The World of Language II is highly recommended.

Students may select one of four options for the major:
Students select either a one-language (French) or two-language (French and a second language) option.

I. One-Language Option (42 credits)

  • Nine credits: MLL 190, 230, 301
  • Six credits: FREN 301, 302
  • Twelve credits Foundation Courses: FREN 310, 320, 330, 340
  • Three credits Experiential Learning: FREN 399
  • Six credits of elective FREN courses at the 300 or 400 level
  • Six credits of elective FREN courses at the 400 level

II. Two-Language Option (42 credits)

  • Nine credits: MLL 190, 230, 301
  • Six credits: FREN 301, 302
  • Twelve credits Foundation Courses: FREN 310, 320, 330, 340
  • Three credits of elective FREN courses at the 400 level
  • Twelve credits in a second language (above 202)—departmental certificate of achievement level—taught in the target language

Suggested Sequence of French Courses in the Major

Semester 1: 310, 320, Elective, 4XX
Semester 2: 330, Elective, Elective, 4XX
Semester 3: 340, 310, Elective, 4XX
Semester 4: 320, Elective, Elective, 4XX

A minor in French combines well with any major. Speaking more than one language and knowing about more than one culture is a definite advantage in any career. Required courses are:

Either MLL 190, MLL 230 or MLL 301
FREN 301 and FREN 302
Nine credits of FREN courses at the 300 and 400 level


The Honors program of the Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication at UMBC provides outstanding students (majors and minors) with special opportunities for creative interaction among themselves as well as with faculty members. Students who successfully complete the Honors requirements will receive their degree with Departmental Honors.

Criteria for admission to French Honors program:
  • completion of 30 credits (at least 10 of which must be at UMBC)
  • completion of French 202
  • completion of at least one MLL core course (MLL 190, MLL 230, MLL 301)
  • overall GPA of 3.0
  • GPA of 3.5 in French and MLL core courses

Criteria for graduation with French Honors:

  • GPA of 3.5 in French and MLL courses
  • study abroad is required; one full academic year is strongly recommended
  • completion of 12 credits in FREN H courses. The 12 credits of course work are divided among:
  • 1 FREN H course at the 300 level
  • 1 FREN H course at the 400 level
  • 1 additional FREN H course at the 300 or 400 level
  • a capstone project completed through FREN 400 H, preferably in the fall of the student's last year

Additional opportunities for Honors students:

  • Funding for study abroad will be sought for Honors students
  • Honors students are strongly encouraged to do an internship (and MLL will assist them in finding an appropriate position)
  • Honors students are strongly encouraged to participate in Undergraduate Research and Creative Achievement Day
  • Honors students are strongly encouraged to publish in the UMBC Review


Nicoleta Bazgan. Assistant Professor
French cinema studies, French cultural studies and popular culture

Marie de Verneil. Lecturer
French language, technology and distance education

Zakaria Fatih. Assistant Professor
Francophone studies, the Enlightenment, critical theory; Arabic

Thomas T. Field. Associate Professor
Sociolinguistics, literacy, textual analysis, French studies

Omar Ka. Associate Professor
Sociolinguistics, phonology, African linguistics, French language

Stanley McCray. Associate Professor
Historical linguistics, French studies

Denis Provencher. Associate Professor
French civilization and cultural studies, language, gender, and sexuality; conversation and discourse analysis; intercultural communication

Alan Rosenthal. Associate Professor (Emeritus)
Franco-American relations, modern French literature, language teaching and methodology

Judith M. Schneider. Associate Professor
Modern French and Latin-American literature and culture, language teaching methodology


FREN 102
Elementary French II (L). [4]
Continuation of FREN 101. Emphasis is on extending skills in spoken French, within the context of real-life situations. A greater amount of reading and writing is included in this course. Prerequisite: FREN 101 with a grade of "C" or higher or equivalent.

FREN 103
Intensive Review of Elementary French (L). [4]
Open to students who have completed level III in high school and who are nevertheless unprepared for FREN 201 - either as the result of an interruption of five years in their study of the language or as a result of a weak language background. This course offers an intensive review of Elementary French I and II as an opportunity to improve the student's listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. FREN 103 or 102, but not both, may be used toward UMBC's language/culture requirement.

FREN 201
Intermediate French I (L). [4]
Further development of listening comprehension and speaking skills and increased emphasis on reading, writing and cultural knowledge. Focus is on everyday life in France and other French-speaking countries. Prerequisite: FREN 102 with a grade of "C" or higher or equivalent.

FREN 202
Intermediate French II (L). [4]
A continuation of FREN 201, with deeper emphasis on advanced grammar and discussion in French on social and cultural issues. Prerequisite: FREN 201 with a grade of "C" or higher or equivalent.

FREN 300
Special Projects in French Language. [1-3]
Intensive individualized program of study in French language in an area determined by the student's particular needs. Note: Credits earned in FREN 300 may not be used to satisfy the basic requirements for any track in the MLL major, minor or certificate of proficiency. Exceptions will be granted only with the written permission of an instructor and the chair of MLL. This course may be repeated.

FREN 301
Advanced French I (L). [3]
An advanced French language course offering practice in the four language skills (listening, reading, speaking and writing) primarily through the use of French films. In addition to regular speaking practice, the course will include formal oral presentations and expository writing. Prerequisite: FREN 202 with a grade of "C" or higher or equivalent as determined by the French area coordinator.

FREN 302
Advanced French II (L). [3]
A continuation of FREN 301, with more attention devoted to the development of reading and writing skills. Prerequisite: FREN 301 with a grade of "C" or higher or equivalent as determined by the French area coordinator.

FREN 310
Interconnections: Language (L). [3]
This course is an introduction to language history and use in the French-speaking world. Among the topics covered are style and register, the origins of French, dialect diversity, language attitudes, and language policy. Lectures, readings, and activities will focus on a number of different Francophone societies and will emphasize connections and contrasts with North American habits and practices. Taught in French. Prerequisite: FREN 302. Highly recommended: MLL 190.

FREN 320
Interconnections: Trade, Technology, and Globalization (L). [3]
This course focuses on France's role within the European Union and in the world economy. It will examine how economic and technological developments are shaping France's socio-political landscape while raising new questions about French identity. Globalization trends and the anti-globalization movement will be studied from a French point of view. Taught in French. Prerequisite: FREN 302.

FREN 330
Interconnections: Ideas, Literature, and the Arts (L). [3]
This course examines major moments in French intellectual, literary, and artistic history and their interactions with other cultures. Emphasis will be on those movements that have left their mark on present-day cultures, such as medieval religious, courtly, and architectural ideals; renaissance humanism, rationalist and classical appeals to moral and aesthetic balance; the Enlightenment belief in progress and human rights; romantic and realist concerns with the environment and social justice; impressionism; surrealism; existentialist and post-structuralist thought; feminisms; and francophone post-colonialism and post-modernism. Taught in French. Prerequisite: FREN 302.

FREN 340
Interconnections: Social and Historical Confluences [3]
This course treats key historical events and social movements in France and French-speaking lands and their connections with the rest of the world. These include, among others: exploration in the New World, the Great Revolution of 1789, nationalism, the Napoleonic legacy, socialism and communism, the World Wars, imperialism and decolonization. The course is conducted in English. Students registered for FREN 340 will read supplementary material in French. Prerequisite: FREN 302. Also listed as MLL 340.

FREN 315
French Phonetics (L). [3]
Detailed analysis of problems in diction; the use of the international phonetic alphabet; functions of the human vocal apparatus; the essentials of an authentic French accent through systematic exercises in pronunciation, intonation and rhythm. Extensive use of the Media Center. Prerequisite: FREN 202 or equivalent.

FREN 329
Business French (L). [3]
A course designed for students who wish to learn about French business language and practices. The course aims to be both theoretical (academic study of French work culture) and practical (introduction of business terminology, correspondence and public speaking skills). Prerequisite: FREN 302 or equivalent. Highly recommended: French 320.

FREN 339
Explorations in Ideas, Literature, and the Arts. [3]
This course will examine a selected topic in French and Francophone literature, arts, and ideas. Topics could include a movement, such as classicism, romanticism, post-colonialism; a genre, such as drama or the novel; a theme; or individual authors. Emphasis will be placed on artistic and intellectual interconnections between French-speaking countries and other cultures. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: FREN 330 or permission of instructor.

FREN 349
Modern French Civilization (L). [3]
An examination of modern French society and culture. Topics include French politics, youth and the educational system, feminism, immigration issues, cultural practices and policies, and intellectual and daily life. It is recommended that students take this course before studying abroad. Prerequisite: FREN 340 or permission of instructor. Highly recommended: FREN 320.

FREN 319
French Translation (L). [3]
Instruction and practice in translating from French to English. Students work with various written materials covering many fields. Prerequisite: FREN 302 or equivalent. Highly recommended: FREN 310.

FREN 399
Experiential Learning in French. [3]
Intensive language practice in a French-speaking environment. This course is most effectively completed through study abroad, or through a work or community service placement in a French-speaking milieu. Prerequisite: FREN 302 and advisor's permission.

FREN 400
Special Projects in French. [1-3]
This course is open to students on application to the instructor who will supervise the particular project. Note: Credits earned in FREN 400 may not be used to satisfy the basic requirements for any track in the MLL major, minor or certificate of proficiency. Exceptions will be granted only with the written permission of an instructor and the chair of MLL. This course may be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: Permission to register in the course must be in writing and must specify the number of credits sought.

FREN 410
Studies in French Language and Linguistics (L). [3]
Advanced work in French language and linguistics. Topics may include intensive work on prose style, study of a particular sociolinguistic problem, or analysis of some aspect of the French language. Prerequisite: FREN 310 or permission of instructor.

FREN 430
Studies in French Literature (L). [3]
Selected topics in French and Francophone literature may include the study of a century, movement, genre, theme or individual author. Topics will be announced each semester offered. May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: FREN 339 or permission of instructor.

FREN 440
Studies in French-Speaking Culture and Society (L). [3]
Selected topics will deal with French-speaking societies of the present or past, both in Europe and elsewhere. Topics will be announced each semester offered. Among the recent offerings: contemporary French cinema, the dark side of the Classical period, Senegal and the French experience, and French public memory and national identity. Note: May be repeated for credit. Prerequisites: FREN 340 and FREN 349, or permission of the instructor.

FREN 450
Seminar in French (L). [3]
Topics will cover some aspect of French language, literature or civilization. Topics will be announced each semester offered. Note: May be repeated for credit. Prerequisite: 12 credits in French courses above 302 and senior standing, or permission of instructor.

International Multimedia Center
UMBC's state-of-the-art International Multimedia Center has satellite dish connection to international television programs as well as computers (PCS and Macs) for individual work, including access to the many French language resources on the Internet. It also houses an extensive video collection of French language videos. French classes at UMBC make extensive use of these materials. Advanced French students at UMBC learn how to use the Internet in French.

Espaces Series
About every two years, the French area sponsors a series of cultural events focusing on one area of the world in which French plays a significant role. The Espaces series usually includes two courses taught in French, a film course taught in English, lectures by distinguished visiting speakers, concerts, debates, and other events. Open to the entire community, Espaces offers UMBC French students a chance to deepen their understanding of the French language, cultural dynamics, and world affairs. The first two series have dealt with West Africa (1995-96) and Canada (1998-99).

France TV-Magazine
MLLI is the home of France-TV Magazine, a non-profit organization dedicated to the teaching of French in an authentic video context. For 14 years, it has been producing a 60-minute TV Magazine which reports events and issues making news in France, the European Union, and the French-speaking world. In addition to video production the team has issued a monthly instructor/learner guide with transcripts, lexical and cultural notes, a step-by-step video methodology, and a wide range of exercises and activities. France-TV Magazine has been sponsored by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of France and the Fund for the Improvement of Post-Secondary Education (FIPSE) in the U.S. After a long and remarkably successful career on PBS Adult Learning Service, France-TV Magazine is now orienting its research and activities toward the integration of the newest technologies such as the CD-ROM platform, the Internet and the World Wide Web, as well as toward new configurations derived from their combination. The team is currently at work on the creation of two online video-based courses -- in French as well as in English--for the European Union that will be accessible through UMBC's WebCT. The project is unique in that it will combine the extensive resources located on the EU servers with the rich video archives of France-TV Magazine. Intended audiences are students, teachers, and the corporate world.

The Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication can provide students with placements in local and international internship positions related to their study of the French language and Francophone culture. All French majors and minors are encouraged to include this experience in their course of study.
Here is a partial list of internships in which UMBC students have practiced their French language skills while gaining experience in a field of work:

Government agencies and NGO's:
  • U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service
  • Social Security Administration: Central Translation Service
  • People Aiding Travelers and the Homeless
  • U.S. Department of State
  • Washington Office on Haiti


  • Visa International
  • World Trade Center
  • Social Service/English Tutoring:
  • FIRN: Foreign-born Information Referral Network


  • Translingua
  • Diplomatic Language Services

Study/Work Abroad
All majors studying French are strongly encouraged to spend a semester or at least a summer living and studying in a university program in a country where French is spoken. The department reserves two scholarships per year for study abroad and, in general, financial aid may be applied to study abroad programs. Credits earned in French through study abroad may be transferred to UMBC after consultation with an advisor. Students may apply to the Foreign Study in Nice Program offered through the Department of French and Italian at the University of Maryland, College Park. This program lasts an entire academic year from October through May. In addition to Nice, students have studied in a variety of locations: Quebec, Montreal, Dijon, Montpellier, Aix-en-Provence, and Paris. Updated materials on specific programs are available in the International Media Center (ACIV 219) and in the Office of International Education (AD 222) as well as from faculty members. Some students have preferred working abroad in summers to improve their language and cultural skills. They have helped reconstruct a chateau or found employment with companies such as Haagen-Daz and EuroDisney.

"Teach in France" Program for Undergraduates
The French Ministry of Education sponsors an assistantship program in France which is open to American citizens under the age of 30 who are majoring in French on the undergraduate or graduate level. The assistant post in a French school involves teaching English conversation classes for 12 hours a week and comes with a monthly stipend of approximately $930 (in 1999-2000). This is a unique opportunity for students to spend 7 months in France improving their knowledge of French language and culture, while earning a salary and gaining teaching experience. The department has received an enthusiastic report from the student who is spending 1998-99 as an assistant in Dijon.

After Graduation
Owing to the international status of the French language, there is demand for graduates with the language and cultural skills acquired in the French major track. Every year more than 30 federal agencies regularly recruit for some 34,000 professional proficiency. Another newly identified need in the private sector is for managers and employees with international knowledge and experience abroad in order to work with cross-cultural teams to develop and market new products. Since France is the fourth economic power in the world and bilingual Canada is our leading trading partner, these job opportunities are likely to increase. Many of our graduates have gone on to complete advanced degrees in language and literary/cultural studies in programs around the country and abroad. Others have become lawyers, teachers, editors, translators, social workers, or have found careers in school and museum administration, immigration service, the travel industry, social security, document analysis, staff development, and diversity training.

Want to teach?
MLLI works closely with the Education department to offer an integrated course of studies to those who wish to obtain a teaching certificate. All teacher education programs at UMBC require the completion of an academic major. Students may major in French and complete teacher education programs in secondary education, in elementary education, or in early childhood education. Field experiences and practicums can be arranged in foreign language classrooms, in immersion schools, and in English-French dual language programs. For further information on teacher certification in French, contact Dr. Ana María Schwartz, 410 455 2109.

For more information about French at UMBC, contact:
Department of Modern Languages, Linguistics & Intercultural Communication
University of Maryland Baltimore County
1000 Hilltop Circle
Baltimore, MD 21250
410 455 2109