French 201 in HONG-246A (MWF 9:15-10:20): Intermediate French

Prof: Mark Jensen
Office: ADMN-220
Phone: (253) 535-7219
Web page:
Office hours: M 1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m., W 1:45 p.m.-3:45 p.m., F 1:45 p.m.-2:45 p.m.


Required purchase:


Course goals

This course begins a sequence to be completed with French 202. (French202 will also use Barson's La grammaire à l'oeuvre and Fournier's Le mot et l'idée.)

All work in this class will be in French—well, almost all. With infrequent exceptions like this syllabus, all communication will be in French. You will endear yourself greatly to the instructor if you consider the classroom a French-language zone (une zone de langue française) where use of other languages is an unwelcome presence (une présence importune) except in exceptional circumstances.

The goals of French 201 are the goals you'd expect:

First, the course aims: 1) to help you master elements of grammar essential to your becoming an effective communicator in French (évidemment ! ); 2) to enlarge your vocabulary in French in a systematic fashion (bien sûr ! ); 3) to develop your ability to speak and write effectively in authentic French (naturellement ! ); (4) to enhance the accuracy of your French pronunciation (sacrebleu ! p); and 5) to make you more aware of the cultural, social, and intellectual dimensions of linguistic communication in French (cela vous étonne ? ).

Second, French 201 seeks to give you: 1) insights into the background and values of Francopohone cultures, especially French culture, with, as an organizing theme, a special emphasis in the class on the notion of education (cela va sans dire !); and 2) some knowledge about how French culture has influenced American culture (ça alors !).

Third, this course aspires: 1) to enhance your ability to analyze and compare ideas and opinions, both your own and those of others (comme tous vos cours universitaires !; 2) through works of literature and film and discussion of them, to deepen your acquaintance with conventions of genre, the influence of history, and the progress of ideas, and how these have affected and shaped human experience (heureusement ! ); and 3) to learn to challenge assumptions intellectually, reflect upon different perspectives, evaluate and explain different viewpoints on complex issues, and defend judgments (si possible ! ). In addition, intensive work with the French language at this level will give you new perspectives on your own native language and may even stimulate your reflection on language itself. If you succeed in doing all these things, you will be far ahead of the instructor himself and you will be able to proceed directly to Go and collect $200.

In the fourteen weeks of this course, you will 1) work through the first half of a somewhat rigorous presentation of French grammar in French; 2) and study in sometimes tedious detail a recent film about French education (Etre et avoir) and read some short works of French literature (or extracts from them), acquainting you with a few of the critical notions that French culture has contributed to the Zeitgeist (Zut ! pardonnez mon allemand ! ).

Activities in class will vary, albeit in a monotonous weekly fashion.

Mondays will tend to be devoted to grammar study and practice. You'll be assigned pages to study in the grammar text in preparation for the class. On some weeks—weeks of special delight and interest for every student as well as for the instructor himself—a meticulously prepared short written composition (or, on the following week, the revision of the previous week's now discouragingly and spiderwebbily red-inked composition—or, if you are lucky, festooned in some less daunting color) will be also be due in class.

Wednesdays will be devoted to further laborious and baffling explorations of French grammar, usually with additonal attention to pronunciation and group work, occasionally including performances, games, or class presentations, but also enlivened with excerpts from our ever-charming film, Etre et avoir.

Fridays (le vendredi ! enfin ! merci Dieu ! ) will be usually be devoted to work with that pesky film again, or, toward the end of the semester, intensely moving literary texts of staggering interest (d'un intérêt stupéfiant).

Class schedule

Wed., Feb. 10 (11:50 a.m.) : Introductions and what sociologist Erving Goffman would call presentations of self. Discussion of course, study methods, and expectations for the course—yours and mine. Some English, for the sake of clarity. A glimpse of Etre et avoir.

Fri., Feb. 12 : Before class: Glance over pages 1-3 of Kerri Conditto's deceptively easy workbook based on Etre et avoir. Study the fascinating vocabulary on houses and the corresponding sentences toward the bottom of the page (vous pouvez les trouver !) in Fournier, Le mot et l'idée, I, §§ 1-3. Look up the words you don't know in a good dictionary. And read, too, the preface in Barson's formidably all-in-French (except the preface!) grammar. In class: Viewing of the first part of Etre et avoir and discussion of your attitude toward film, and also toward education (a persistent theme of our course). Also: some information on the quirky province of Auvergne, and its surprising similarities to Washington State.

Wed., Feb. 17 : Barson, Chapter 1, La formation du présent, pp. 2-8, including a skosh of group work. Fournier, II, §§ 1-5.

Fri., Feb. 19 : Before class: On a separate sheet of paper, preferably lined, copy out the exercices in Conditto's workbook on pp. 7-9 & 12-13. NOTE: IF YOUR HANDWRITING IS MESSY — YOU KNOW WHETHER ITS YOU I'M TALKING ABOUT ! — MAKE A SPECIAL EFFORT TO WRITE LEGIBLY. In class: Most of the class will be spent watching the second half of Etre et avoir. Fournier, III, §§ 1-3.

Mon., Feb. 22 : Barson, Chapter 1, La formation de l'impératif and L'emploi de l'impératif, pp. 8-10. Fournier, IV, §§ 1-3.

Wed., Feb. 24 : Barson, Chapter 1, L'infinitif, pp. 11-14, including group work. Fournier, V, §§ 1-2.

Fri., Feb. 26 : Before class: On separate sheets of paper, lined encore une fois, copy out the exercises in Conditto's cahier on pp. 16-22. In class: We'll spend much of the class rescreening and discussing the first part of Etre et avoir, and discuss the question of momentous symbolic import: what are those turtles (ces tortues) doing in the film? Fournier, VI, §§ 1-3.

Mon., Mar. 1 : Barson, Chapter 2, Le passé composé, pp. 29-32. Fournier, VII, §§ 1-3.

Wed., Mar. 3 : Barson, Chapter 2, L'imparfait, pp. 33, Le plus-que-parfait, p. 33, Le futur du passé, p. 34, and Le système narratif and Précisions sur l'imparfait et le passé composé, pp. 35-40. Note: Mercifully, you are not expected to learn study the passé simple, though you may not be able to resist peeking at it. Group work. Fournier, VIII, §§ 1-2.

Fri., Mar. 5 : Before class: On a separate sheets of paper, copy out the exercises in Conditto, pp. 29-31. In class: We'll work on the second quarter of the film. Fournier, IX, §§1-2

Mon., Mar. 8 : Barson, Chapter 2, read yet again the pages on Précisions sur l'imparfait et le passé composé, pp. 35-40. Fournier, X, §§ 1-2.

Wed., Mar. 10 : Barson, Constructions, pp. 44-47. Some group work. Fournier, XI, §§ 1-2.

Fri., Mar. 12 : Before class: On a separate sheet of paper, once again copy out exercises in Conditto, this time on pp. 40-41. In class: We'll watch the third quarter of the film again. Fournier, XII, §§ 1-2.

Mon., Mar. 15 : Barson, Chapter 3, La formation de la phrase interrogative and Questions avec les adverbes interrogatifs, pp. 67-69. Fournier, XIII, §§ 1-3.

Wed., Mar. 17 : Barson, Chapter 3, Questions avec qui/qu'est-ce qui/que/quoi (pronoms interrogatifs invariables) and Questions avec quelle(s)/quel(s) et laquelle (lesquelles)/lequel (lesquels), pp. 69-72). Fournier, XIV, §§ 1-3.

Fri., Mar. 19 : Before class: You guessed it! Copy out on separate sheets of paper the exercises in Conditto, pp. 42-44. In class: We'll study in greater depth the last quarter of Etre et avoir, reaching ever deeper levels of profound meaning along with heights of shameless sentimentality. Fournier, XV, §§ 1-3.

Mon., Mar. 22 : Barson, Chapter 3, Constructions, pp. 73-76. Fournier, XVI, §§ 1-3.

Wed., Mar. 24 : Midterm review.

Fri., Mar. 26 : The long-dreaded but no longer avoidable MIDTERM EXAM! Followed by a languorous week of insipid vacation during which everything you've learned during the first half of the semester will begin to fade imperceptibly into total oblivion (now do you understand those turtles?).

Wed., Apr. 7 : Barson, Chapter 4, Les formes du futur, pp. 90-93. Fournier, XVII, §§ 1-3.

Fri., Apr. 9 : Baudelaire, Recueillement, in Barson, p. 27. Fournier, XVIII, § 1.

Mon., Apr. 12 : Barson, Chapter 4, Les formes du conditionnel and L'emploi du conditionnel, pp. 93-97. Fournier, XIX §§ 1-2.

Wed., Apr. 14 : Barson, Chapter 4, Constructions, pp. 98-100. Fournier, XX, §§ 1-2.

Fri., Apr. 16 : Voltaire, Memnon ou la sagesse humaine, in Barson, pp. 108-11. WARNING: VOLTAIRE IS A SUBVERSIVE WHO WAS SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE FRENCH REVOLUTION. READ WITH CARE. Fournier, XXI, §§ 1-3.

Mon., Apr. 19 : Barson, Chapter 5, Les articles, pp. 113-17. Fournier, XXII, §§ 1-2.

Wed., Apr. 21 : Barson, Chapter 5, Les adjectifs possessifs, pp. 117-21. Some group work. Fournier, XXIII, §§ 1-2.

Fri., Apr. 23 : Two poems, one modern: Jacques Prévert, Chanson des escargots qui vont à l'enterrement, and one classic: Jean de La Fontaine, Le corbeau et le renard, in Barson, pp. 137-38. Fournier, XXIV §§ 1-2.

Mon., Apr. 26 : Barson, Chapter 5, Les adjectifs et pronoms démonstratifs, pp. 121-24. Fournier, XXV, §§ 1-3.

Wed., Apr. 28 : Barson, Chapter 5, Construction, pp. 124-25. Fournier, XXVI, §§ 1-4.

Fri., Apr. 30 : Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, Le petit prince (extrait), in Barson, pp. 87-88. Fournier, XXVII, §§ 1-2.

Mon., May 3 : Barson, Chapter 6, Les pronoms sujets and Les pronoms objets directs et indirects, pp. 140-44. Fournier, XXVIII, §§ 1-4.

Wed., May 5 : Barson, Chapter 6, Les pronoms objets : y et en, Les pronoms disjoints, and Les pronoms possessifs, pp. 145-49. Fournier, XXIX, §§ 1-3.

Fri., May 7 : Guy de Maupassant, Lui ?, in Barson, pp. 26-27 & 62-65. (As you'd guess from this story, Maupassant finished very badly.) Fournier, XXX, §§ 1-4.

Mon., May 10 30 : Barson, Chapter 6, Constructions, pp. 150-52. Fournier, XXXI, §§ 1-5.

Wed., May 12 : Barson, Chapter 6 group work. Fournier, XXXII, §§ 1-4.

Fri., May 14 : Eloquent group presentations. Fournier, XXXIII, §§ 1-5.

Mon., May 17 : Provocative group presentations. Fournier, XXXIV, §§ 1-3.

Wed., May 19 : Cheering group presentations. Fournier, XXXV, §§ 1-3.

Fri., May 21 : Final review.

QUIA homework schedule

QUIA exercises should be done within three days of the class on the related subject. After that date the QUIA site will no longer accept your work. And neither will I!

Recommended:  As you do exercises, use your doughty Cuthbertson verb wheel to review verbs you've forgotten or with which you're not familiar.

After Feb. 17 class on the present tense, QUIA exercises due by Feb. 20 : §§1-1.1, 2, 4, and 5 and §§ 1-2.1 and 2.

After Feb. 22 class on the imperative, QUIA exercises due by Feb. 25 : §§1-1.7 and 8 and § 1-2.4.

After Feb. 24 class on the infinitive, no QUIA exercises. Instead, write out exercises VI, VII, VIII, IX, and XI from pp. 23-24 in Barson, and turn them in on Feb. 26 (in class).

After Mar. 1 class on the passé composé, QUIA exercises due by Mar. 4: §§2-1.1-3.

After Mar. 3 class on the imparfait, no QUIA exercises. Instead, rewrite these sentences using the imparfait and turn in on Mar. 5: 1. Ils parlent arabe. 2. Je ne comprends rien. 3. Il n'a pas de manteau ; il doit avoir froid. 4. Tout le monde connaît cette histoire. 5. Il est inutile de la raconter. 6. Nous ne sommes plus amis. 7. J'ai mal aux pieds. 8. Elle n'a pas votre adresse. 9. La tour Eiffel ne l'intéresse pas. 10. Il fait beau. 11. Je m'amuse. 12. Elle ne le croit pas. 13. On ne voit personne. 14. Faites-vous attention ? 15. Elles vont à la gare.

After Mar. 8 class on the passé composé and the imparfait, QUIA exercises due by Mar. 11: §§2-2.1 (A-E [all]).

After Mar. 10 class, QUIA exercises due by Mar. 13: §2-2.2.

After Mar. 15 class on questions and interrogative adverbs, QUIA exercise due Mar. 18: §3-2.1.

After Mar. 17 class on questions and interrogative pronouns, QUIA exercises due Mar. 20: §§3-2.2, 3, and 4.

After Mar. 22 class on impersonal verbs and depuis, QUIA exercises due on Mar. 25: §§3-2.6 and 7.

After Apr. 7 class on the future tense, QUIA exercises due by Apr. 10: §§4-1.1 and 2.

After Apr. 12 class on the conditional, QUIA exercise due by Apr. 15: §4-2.1.

After Apr. 14 class on conjunctions and the verb devoir, QUIA exercise due by Apr. 17: §4-2.7.

After Apr. 19 class on articles, QUIA exercises due by Apr. 22: §§5-1.1, 4 & 5.

After Apr. 21 class on possesive adjectives, no QUIA exercises.

After Apr. 26 class on demonstrative adjectives and pronouns, QUIA exercises due by Apr. 29: §§5-2.1, 3, & 5.

After Apr. 28 class on expressions with avoir, QUIA exercise due by May 1: §5-2.6.

After May 3 class on subject pronouns and direct and indirect object pronouns, QUIA exercises due by May 6: §§ 6-1.1-2.

After May 5 class on y and en, QUIA exercises due by May 8: §§6-1.3 and 6-2.1-2.

After May 10 class on possessive constructions, idiomatic expressions with en and y, no QUIA exercises.

Schedule of compositions

NOTE: These are due in class on the day indicated. Double-space and leave margins on all sides of at least one inch (2.54 centimeters).

MORAL PHILOSOPHY. Mon., Mar. 1 : Dialogue entre vous et votre conscience (votre alter ego). Votre conscience emploie beaucoup de verbes à l'impératif ! (150 mots)

EDUCATIONAL EMBARRASSMENTS. Mon., Mar. 15 : Racontez au passé un fait comique ou scandaleux qui vous est arrivé. N'oubliez pas d'utiliser les termes d'enchaînement (Barson, p. 44). (200 mots)

COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF. Mon., Apr. 12 : Imaginez que vous partez en voyage (un séjour à l'étranger par exemple) et que vous donnez des instructions aux membres de votre famille ou à vos amis. Utilisez les expressions suivantes : pendant que ; tandis que ; aussitôt que ; quand + le futur. (250 mots)

LOVE AND INTRIGUE. Mon., May 3 : L'autre jour Henri a reçu une lettre. La lettre était dans une enveloppe rose parfumée. La mère d'Henri était très curieuse de savoir qui avait écrit cette lettre mais elle savait qu'elle ne devait pas y toucher. Pourtant, incapable de résister à sa curiosité, elle l'a ouverte à la vapeur... Continuez cette histoire. Quel est le contenu de la lettre ? Imaginez le dialogue entre Henri et sa mère lorsque celui-ci découvre l'indiscrétion de sa mère. (250 mots).

Calculation of grades

Your grade will be determined as follows:

  • 20% Participation
  • 20% Workbook exercises (QUIA)
  • 10% Four compositions
  •   6% Six one-on-one conversations
  •   8% Twelve vocabulary pop quizzes, of which only the top eight scores count
  •   6% Group presentation
  • 10% Midterm exam
  • 20% Final exam

  • Comments on each of these components:

  • Class participation. Faithful attendance and diligent participation are just about essential. Your attendance and participation, both in class and in individual meetings, will affect your grade. I will evaluate your participation as follows. Your presence and participation in class will be evaluated after every class. You will receive either 0, 1, 2, 3, or 4 for each class. Zero means you were absent; 1 means either that you arrived noticeably late, or did not bring needed materials, or would or could not participate; 2 means that you were present but scarcely participated, or were not adequately prepared; 3 means that you participated minimally in class activities; and 4 means that you appeared to be well prepared and made adequate efforts at communicating in French. At the end of the course the average of these scores will be laboriously calculated, and 20% of your grade will be determined by the result, on a conventional 4-point scale.
  • Workbook exercises. The workbook exercises will be submitted online via Quia. You'll receive a course code from me and be asked to register online, like any good citizen of cyberspace.
  • Compositions. Compositions should be handwritten, double-spaced or triple-spaced, with ample margins on all sides of the page. They will be handed back with partial corrections for revision, the revision will be due on Monday of the following week.
  • One-on-one conversations. In addition to visits during office hours when I'm available for consultation, you'll meet with me individually (or with another student, if you prefer) every two weeks in my office for a 30-minute conversation session. English should be avoided as much as possbile during these sessions. You should arrive on time or you may be marked down. The point of these meetings is to converse completely in French, and also to give closer individual attention to your pronunciation, not to deal with questions about grammar, homework, coursework, tests, etc. Your performance in these six one-on-one conversations will constitute 6% of your final grade. You'll be asked to sign up for a time for these meetings by signing a schedule sheet at the beginning of each two-week period. This will be your onerous responsibility to remember and to come on time. Oh, the burden! Rescheduling missed meetings may not be possible and cannot be deferred to a later two-week period; and missing these meetings will hurt your grade.
  • Vocabulary pop quizzes. Fournier's Le mot et l'idée is being integrated into French 201, 202, 301, and 302 as a way of systematically reviewing vocabulary. You should learn the meanings of the words in the sections indicated. You should also read the exemplary sentences for these sections. The sentences for each section constitute a mini-essay, or sometimes a pathetically unimaginative and boring story, vignette, or sketch. Tests will ask questions about the particulars of this essay or story as well as test your knowledge of vocabulary, so you should review earlier sentences as well. — Online dictionaries are not very reliable. You should consider purchasing a good French-English or English-French dictionary of 750-1000 pages, like the Larousse Concise Dictionary: French-English/English-French, rev. ed. (2004). Smaller 300-500 page "pocket" dictionaries are not recommended for the purposes of this course. NOTE: In addition, the following dictionaries are not recommended: Cassell's French & English Dictionary (any edition); Larousse Student Dictionary: French-English/English-French/ Merriam-Webster's French-English Dictionary (any edition); Webster's French-English Dictionary; Webster's New World French Dictionary: French/English English/French. Larger 1200-2000 page dictionaries like the Larousse College Dictionary: French-English/English-French, the Oxford-Hachette French Dictionary or the Collins-Robert Unabridged French-English English-French Dictionary are appropriate for third- and fourth-year French courses, but are too cumbersome and difficult to use in the second year. Believe me. I am telling you the truth. The same holds for dictionaries that are completely in French, with the possible exception of the Le Robert Micro 2008: Dictionnaire d'apprentissage de la langue française (2008) or its earlier editions, for example Le Robert Micro: Dictionnaire de la langue française, édition poche. — FURTHER NOTEs: Fournier's Le mot et l'idée is not only a list of words but a bizarre interesting portrait of traditional French culture that reflects many of the prejudices of conventional and reactionary bourgeois society of a generation ago. Like many other volumes of its vintage, it is designed not only to teach language but to reinforce the values of the prevailing power structure. Let's find ways to subvert it, O.K.? — While working with vocabulary, try typing the French word you're studying into the Google images search page. The results can be instructive and/or ROFL amusing!
  • Group presentations. In the last half of the course, you'll be work others on a research-and-reflection presentation project related to our work on the film Etre et avoir and presented in class at the end of the semester.
  • Comprehensive tests. There will be a mid-term exam on Friday, Mar. 26, which will cover chapters 1-3 in Barson and the film Etre et avoir which will determine 10% of your grade. A final exam on Tuesday, May 25, at 8:00 a.m. will determine 20% of your final grade.

NOTE: Guess what? PLU's expectation is that students will not cheat or plagiarize, and that they will not condone these behaviors or assist others who plagiarize. In work in a foreign language, this includes the use of machine (i.e. computer) translation. Academic misconduct jeopardizes the career of the individual student involved, and also undermines the scholastic achievements of all PLU students in the sense that it attacks the mission of this institution. It should go without saying that students are responsible for doing their own work, thereby insuring the integrity of their academic records. In addition, civil conversation is central to the university's academic enterprise and guided by faculty expertise. [The university] is committed to protecting the rights of community members to engage in dialogue and express ideas in an environment that is free from harassment, discrimination, and exploitation. This freedom of expression does not, however, entail the freedom to threaten, stalk, intimidate, harass, or abuse. Students are therefore expected to treat every individual with respect and civility. (Student Code of Conduct, p. 12) An additional note: If you need course adaptations or accommodations because of a disability, if you have emergency medical information to share with me, or if you need special arrangements in case the building must be evacuated, please make an appointment with me as soon as possible. If you have questions concerning the services available for students with disabilities at PLU, please contact the Office of Disability Support Services, x7206.


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