French has long been the mother tongue of diplomacy, art, history and culture. Spoken worldwide, the study of French opens doors to travel, graduate study and career opportunities as diverse as medical research, museum curation and the intelligence services.

International travel, independent research and internship opportunities offer you the chance to gain extraordinary real-world experiences while developing your French language skills.

Roanoke's special relationships with universities across the globe give you access to outstanding study abroad experiences throughout throughout France and the Francophone world.

French students frequently pursue careers in business, education, healthcare, international relations and social services.

We offer both a major and a minor in French.

Photo of Charissa Roberson

"When I first came to Roanoke College, I didn't intend to study French as my second major--but after one semester, I had gained a new passion for speaking and learning the language and had discovered a wonderful community in the Modern Languages department. In my classes, I gained practical experience in using French, from giving presentations to discussing literary works to writing full-length scholarly papers. Throughout my studies, I always felt extremely supported by the professors in the French program, who are all dedicated to helping their students succeed at every level." 
Charissa Roberson

Photo of Katie Thornton on a camel

"My semester in Morocco was absolutely life-changing. It was so fascinating to explore a country and a culture so different from my own. I was constantly out of my comfort zone, and I was always challenging myself. I loved practicing my French with Moroccans and my host family because everyone was so nice and encouraging, and I was able to become much more comfortable speaking the language."
Katie Thornton

Liesl Grieder

"The whole time [in Saint-Lô] I was noticing little differences between our culture and theirs, and it made me better at being able to communicate with French people and understand where they’re coming from. There’s only so much you can understand about another culture without being there and seeing how they work and need to adjust your own habits to their habits."
- Liesl Grieder

Photo of Kaitlin Shaul

"Studying and traveling abroad affirmed my purpose of learning another language because it helped to show me the connections that can be made through a communal language. It also showed the importance of trying your best with understanding others." - Kaitlin Shaul

Immersive, bilingual presentation dives into World War II history

Charissa Roberson '22, a French and creative writing double-major, created an immersive, bilingual experience titled “The Crossroads of Saint-Lô”, which examines the lives of two men — Major Thomas Howie, U.S. Army Infantry Officer, and French resistance fighter Raymond Robin — who died in that area during the war. Saint-Lô is one of Roanoke’s sister cities, and through an internship with the Roanoke Valley Sister Cities organization, Roberson was able to make connections in Saint-Lô and learn more Through that internship, Roberson did a great deal of research in French, which strengthened her French skills and opened the door to a variety of French resources that wouldn’t have been available had she just been looking for resources in the English language.

Learn more

May Term in Paris

Students immerse themselves in the culture and language of France during their intensive learning course abroad.

“We often have combinations between French and English, literary studies, creative writing, but also French and the sciences, French and international relations. And that, I think, is a real advantage of being here at Roanoke College, to be able to study in the liberal arts tradition, exploring a variety of disciplines that offer our students a range of experiences.”

Dr. Alison Clifton, assistant professor of French

Prestigious scholarship takes French major to France

Dixie Weaver ‘23 earned the Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship, which will allow her to study at the Universite Catholique de Lyon in Lyon, France. The experience will deepen her understanding of French language and culture. As part of the scholarship, Weaver is required to do a service project, and she plans on writing a bilingual children’s book after her internship. Weaver said her classes at Roanoke prepared her for applying for the competitive scholarship. “The rigor from Roanoke gave me the base for completing this arduous task and what’s to come in life,” she said.

Read more.

French & Chemistry?

Watch Video kate yakuboff working in the lab
Kate combines two interests to create a career she will love

Semester Abroad Gives Chance to Travel, Learn, Grow

Alexandra Gautier spent a semester at Université Lumière Lyon 2. She was able to hone her French language skills, as well as travel to several countries in Europe. “I've definitely become a lot more independent because I was living in a country that didn't speak my native language. It meant I really had to speak up for myself and take care of problems that I had never anticipated encountering, such as getting a haircut,” Gautier said. “My French comprehension and production, both written and spoken, have massively improved- an education that I could not have received anywhere but France.”

Sample Course Offerings:

  • FREN 301: French ConversationStudents by the Notre Dame

  • FREN 315: Francophone Societies

  • FREN 330: Studies in French Translation

  • FREN 461: The Modern Novel and Short Story 

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New class of Pedagogy Fellows announced by Teaching Collaborative

The fellows will pursue projects that enhance ongoing efforts to improve teaching evaluations, holistic student advising and the well-being of students, staff and faculty.

5th annual Roanoke College International Film Series happening Feb. 15-26

The program is hosting eight, free film screenings at venues across the Roanoke Valley.

Language students get into well-respected graduate programs

Logos of: Ohio State, Columbia University, Parsons, the Courtauld Institute of Art