French Placement Test

The French Placement Test is normally administered during First Days, to incoming first-year students. Amid the pandemic, the French Placement Test will be administered remotely, between August 6-20, 2020. 

If you missed the French Placement Test during this period, you should complete the registration sheet below and email Professor Cécile Tresfels immediately, so you can take the make-up test.

If you have already taken the French Placement Test, you will get your results by email from the French Program, before Registration begins on Monday, August 24. You should then register for the appropriate class on PeopleSoft, by Wednesday, August 26, 9PM (EST). For more on your placement results, what to do next, and where to get more information, read the section below under “French Placement Test Results.”

Who Needs to Take the French Placement Test

Students who have had any formal French study before (at any level, for any length of time, in middle school, high school, college or summer programs) must take the French Placement Test, so that we can determine which is the best level for you here at Williams. You will not be admitted to a French course unless you have taken the French Placement Test.

The goal of the Williams French Placement Test is to help us place you in a course where you will thrive! We do not want students to be in courses that are too easy (where you are bored and unchallenged) or too hard (where you are lost and overwhelmed). With a study body coming from many different secondary schools from all over the country and world, we want to find the best level of coursework for each student, here at Williams.

Students who have never taken French before do not need to take the French Placement Test. In this case, you should simply register for French 101: Introduction to French. However, students who have studied any level of French before will not be admitted to French 101 unless they have taken the French Placement Test and were placed into French 101 by the French Faculty.

Native speakers of French are also required to take the Williams French Placement Test. While some native speakers have completed part or all of their primary and secondary education in French, many heritage speakers have excellent spoken French but may need coursework to help them improve their French grammar, reading, and writing.

How to Take the French Placement Test (Aug 6-20)

First, fill out this French Placement Information Form which will allow us to get to know you and start assessing your level of French, so we can place you into a course where you will thrive. Once we receive your completed form, we will register you for the Williams Online French Placement Test. The deadline to complete this information form is Thursday, August 13, 5PM (EST). If you cannot connect to the French Placement Information Form with this link, then cut & paste the following URL into your web browser: https://forms.gle/f5duAdeX5q1ftSbA9.

If you’ve never taken French before, you do not need to take the French Placement Test, and can simply register for French 101. But you must still complete the French Placement Information Form by August 13.  

If you have ever taken French before (in elementary or secondary school, a college or summer program, or any formal class), you must take the French Placement Test, so that we can determine which level of French is best for you, here at Williams.

This test is entirely online, takes approximately 1 hour, and contains 2 sections (on listening comprehension and reading comprehension). You must take the test between Thursday, August 6 and Thursday, August 20, and absolutely no later than Thursday, August 20, 5PM (EST)

When you’ve sent us your completed French Placement Information Form, we will register you for the French Placement Test. You will then receive an email with instructions and 2 codes for taking the 2 different parts of the test: 1 for reading and 1 for listening. You will then be able to take the test online at any time. The reading and listening sections are independent of each other, but you should complete both at the same time. You must complete both sections of the test before the deadline: Thursday, August 20, 5PM (EST).  

You will need a computer and internet connection to take the test. Headphones are recommended but not necessary. If you encounter technical difficulty, you can contact LTI (Language Testing International) at 914-963-7110, ext. 310 or [email protected]

Once you complete your online test, it will automatically be sent to the Williams French Faculty. Your test will then be graded and reviewed by the entire French Faculty, and you will receive your recommended placement information from the Registrar, your First-Year Advisor, or on Peoplesoft during the week of August 24-28. This will allow you to then go onto Peoplesoft and change your registration for the appropriate course, during the Registration Period (August 24-30), well ahead of the First Day of Classes (Sept 10) and the Add/Drop Period (Sept 10-18). 

How to Choose French Courses during                                Pre-Registration (August 10-17, 2020)

The French Faculty has been working hard this summer to create a remote French Placement Test. However, it was not possible to launch the test and provide results to students before Pre-Registration (August 10-17). We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Since your results on the French Placement Test will not be ready before Pre-Registration (August 10-17), students should preliminarily pre-register for a French course they think may be appropriate, based on their previous studies and the descriptions in the Course Catalog. For example:

  • If you’ve never taken French: RLFR 101.
  • If you’ve studied 1-2 years of high-school French: perhaps RLFR 103.
  • If you’ve studied 3-4 years of high-school French: perhaps RLFR 105.
  • If you’re an advanced or native speaker: perhaps RLFR 207, 211, or 315.

Later, when you’ve taken the French Placement Test (by Thursday, Aug 20) and received your results (during the week of August 24-28), you will be able to change your course selection during Registration (Aug 24-30) or during the First Weeks of Classes (Sept 10-18), before the Drop/Add deadline (Sept 18).

French Placement Test Results

Again: If you’ve already taken the French Placement Test, you will get your results by email from the French Program, before Registration begins on Monday, August 24. You should then register for the appropriate class on PeopleSoft, by Wednesday, August 26, 9PM (EST). For more on your placement results, what to do next, and where to get more information, read the section below.

How French Placement Works at Williams

The French Placement Test is graded by the entire French faculty, who collectively discuss students’ past experience in French studies, test scores, and writing skills, in order to find the best course for each student. All of our French Faculty have bachelors, masters, and doctorate degrees in French from prestigious universities in France and the US; speak fluent French and have studied and lived abroad in Francophone countries; have many years of experience teaching French language and Francophone literature, film, and culture at every level; and are nationally recognized as teachers, scholars, and leaders in their fields.

The goal of the Williams French Placement Test is to help us place you in a course where you will thrive! We do not want students to be in courses that are too easy (where you are bored and unchallenged) or too hard (where you are lost and overwhelmed). With a study body coming from many different secondary schools from all over the country and the world, we want to find the best level of coursework for each student, here at Williams.

Some students overestimate their level, initially registering for Advanced French, when they’re best suited for Intermediate French. Other students underestimate their level, initially registering for Beginning French, when they’re actually ready for Intermediate French. This is quite common and understandable (for placement tests in all kinds of departments and fields), as both students and faculty work to find the best level for each individual student, here at Williams. Placement is not a judgement value about your past studies, language skills, or passion for French. You are not good or bad at French based on your placement. We are simply matching you with the best possible French course in our particular program. Again, we want you to thrive and continue your French studies here!

French Courses and Levels at Williams

We have a wonderful program of French courses, for every level of study.

These courses are divided into 2 major categories…

  1. French Language
  • French 101 (Fall) & French 102 (Spring): Beginning French
  • French 103 (Fall) & French 104 (Spring): Intermediate French
  • French 105 (Fall) & French 106 (Spring): Advanced French

All of these courses focus on improving your speaking, comprehension, reading, and writing of French, through dynamic interactive activities grammar review, discussion and writing, and active engagement with texts, poems, songs, films, art, and other media from France and the Francophone world.

  1. Francophone Literature, Cinema, Culture
  • French 200 & 300 level courses: These are advanced courses focused primarily on reading, viewing, writing, and discussion of literature, cinema, and culture (politics, history, media, etc.). Unlike the 100-level courses, these advanced-level courses focus less on grammar, and more on discussion, reading, writing, and analysis of novels, films, poetry, media, art, politics, and culture.
  • Important Note: Unlike in some other Williams departments, French 200 & 300 level courses are quite similar, with little difference between the 2 levels. If you placed into 200 & 300 level courses, you’re equally ready to take the one whose topic looks the most interesting to you!
  • French 400-level courses: These courses (known as “Senior Seminars”) are for Senior French Majors.

Split Placements

If your placement is split between 2 courses (such as RLFR 103/104 or RLFR 105/106), this means you scored on the borderline between these 2 courses/levels. It’s clear from your placement test that you have a lot of previous French study, but that you would benefit from a course that will give you a revision of material you know, while helping you to learn new material. If you have a split placement, you will get a strong revision and improvement of your current skills in the lower course, or might thrive from the revision and new material in the higher course. The choice is up to you, but you may want to email the professors who teach those 2 levels/courses, and ask for further advice.

Note: A placement of 200 & 300 is not a split placement, but a placement into any 200 or 300 level course that interests you the most. Again: Unlike in some other Williams departments, French 200 & 300 level courses are quite similar, with little difference between the 2 levels. If you placed into 200 & 300 level courses, you’re equally ready to take the one whose topic looks the most interesting to you.

Placement into Fall vs. Spring Courses

The advantage of the French Program at our liberal arts college is that classes are small and you will have frequent contact and individual attention from your professors. The disadvantage is that, because of our smaller size, we cannot offer every level of French in every semester (like at large universities). This means that you may place into a course that meets in the Spring semester, instead of the Fall. We do not want you to lose your enthusiasm for French! If you placed into a Spring course, we’d love for you to return to French in January or February! In the meantime, we invite you to take part in our many French extracurricular activities, including the weekly French Table, French Film Festival, Francophone lectures, and other events (karaoke, film discussions, cooking lessons, game nights, political debates) organized by the French Club and our French Teaching Associates from France. Even amid the challenges of the pandemic during the upcoming semester, our French TAs and the French Club may be organizing remote activities.

What to do Next

Register for your French course on Peoplesoft: this Mon-Wed, August 24-26! 

Now that you know your placement, you should go onto Peoplesoft during the Registration Period (Aug 24-30) and register for the appropriate course. At the same time, you should unregister from any other French course you chose during Pre-Registration, so that other students can register for that course.

You should register for your French course ASAP: 

  • Monday, Aug 24 (the first day of Registration Period), OR,
  • Wednesday, Aug 26 (if you’re adding this as a 4th course, since this is the first day you can do so)

Based on many indicators (initial Pre-Registration enrollments, large number of students who took the placement test, many students continuing French studies from previous semesters, many individual discussions and emails from enthusiastic students, and the lower enrollment caps due to the need for on-campus social distancing and the challenges of remote or off-campus screen fatigue), our French courses may be over-enrolled this semester. So don’t delay!

Again: Register for this course on Peoplesoft, by Wednesday, August 26, 9PM (EST). 

Questions?

For questions about your placement and courses, you can email the professor whose course you placed into. For the fastest and best advice, email the appropriate professor below, for help with placement and courses questions.

 

• Professor Brian Martin: [email protected]

Fall: French 101. Spring: French 106.

 

• Professor Cécile Tresfels: [email protected]

Fall: French 103, French 211. Spring: French 104, French 416.

 

• Professor Theresa Brock: [email protected]

Fall: French 103, French 315. Spring: French 102, French 238.

 

• Professor Carl Cornell: [email protected]

Fall: French 105, French 207. Spring: French 104.

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For a full list of courses in 2020-21, see the Course Catalog.

For more on our French program, courses, faculty, majors/minors, and events: https://french.williams.edu.

We’re looking forward to seeing you in our French courses this year!

Welcome & Bienvenue!