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.
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 needing to adjust your own habits to their habits."
- Liesl Grieder
"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
"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
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.
May Term in Paris
“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.
French & Chemistry?
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 Conversation
FREN 315: Francophone Societies
FREN 330: Studies in French Translation
FREN 461: The Modern Novel and Short Story
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The seven valedictorians and salutatorians hail from five different states and earned degrees in 10 different majors. Six of the seven are members of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious academic honor society.
“The Crossroads of Saint-Lo” recounts two parallel stories from World War II, including one fairly famous figure and one largely unknown casualty.
Language students get into well-respected graduate programs