There are many paths towards the French major depending on students’ level of preparation and previous experience with French. Students with no previous exposure to the language begin their study of French at Amherst with French 101 (Elementary French) and French 103 (Intermediate French). Both French 101 and French 103 are offered every semester. Students who have taken French in high school should enroll in an intermediary language and literature class. We offer French 205 (Language and Literature), French 207 (Introduction to French Language and Literature), and French 208 (French Conversation). French 207 and 208 are recommended for students who have taken AP French in high school. Although French 207 is not a requirement, it is strongly recommended for all students, as it prepares them to take advanced (300-level) classes on French and Francophone literature and culture. Students who consider themselves fluent and/or who come from an exceptionally strong French program can start directly with 300-level classes. The first class that may count toward the French major is French 205.
The French Department does not offer placement tests. Course placement is individually determined by each student in consultation with faculty members. For example, if a student initially enrolls in French 205 and finds the class not challenging enough, they can easily move one level up to French 207 after consulting with the instructors. We usually offer our intermediate language and literature classes at the same time so that students may switch to a different level with minimal impact on the rest of their schedule.