The general philosophy and corresponding pedagogy of the Language Program derive from a recognition of the diversity of needs, interests and objectives among its students. The program strives to adapt to these individual differences in particular at the beginning level (with an accelerated track in FREN 0200) and, at the other end of the spectrum, in the advanced courses where students are encouraged to participate in the construction of their program of study by selecting their own readings and writing activities.
The general objectives of the Language Program are the gradual mastery of the four basic language skills: listening comprehension, speaking, reading comprehension and writing. In all courses (except Advanced Writing, FREN1610), class interaction is devoted entirely to oral communication: oral communicative activities at the beginning and intermediate levels gradually leading to discussions and free conversation as students become more advanced. Starting in the 5th-semester course, students may select their own readings, according to their interests and objectives. Writing activities at the advanced level (FREN 1510 and 1610) are also individualized, according to students needs and preferences.
A typical trajectory for a student who has never taken French courses or who is at the beginner level is as follows:
- (Semester 1 and 2) FREN 0100-0200 (a year course)
- (Semester 3) FREN 0300
- (Semester 4) FREN 0400
- (Semester 5) FREN 0500 (prerequisite for 1000-level courses)
- (Semester 6) FREN 0600 (prerequisite for study abroad)
- (Semester 7) FREN 950
- (Semester 8) FREN 960
Students are normally placed at the appropriate level according to their high-school achievement in French. A placement test is administered at the beginning of each semester for those who have not been placed prior to their coming to Brown.
Students are strongly encouraged to study abroad for one or two semesters, under the auspices of either the Brown in France program or a Brown-approved program in a francophone country. The sixth-semester language course (FREN 0600) is the prerequisite for study abroad and specifically prepares students for that experience. Freshmen enrolled in FREN 0200 accelerated may be able to take FREN 0600 as early as 2nd semester sophomore year and to study abroad in their junior year.