French is the study of the French language and its literature, history and culture. The study of French can involve prose texts, poetry and drama, as well as translation, summary and grammar exercises. Usually on a French degree you will spend some time abroad in which you will work towards your oral fluency.
Here are some general resources related to French. These should be a useful introduction, regardless of which French related course you’re interested in and where you might want to study it.
Here are some resources which are related to French. They should prove to be a useful introductory overview, no matter what French-related course you are interested in or where you may wish to study it.
These resources are particularly useful for brushing up on your grammar, vocabulary and spoken French, which are essential for your degree. You could come back to these resources in the summer between A Levels (or equivalent) and starting university, if you wanted to make sure you haven’t forgotten all the language skills you’d learned!
‘Amélioration du Français’ 🔗 A website containing a vast array of grammar exercises, all of which are designed to help you perfect your French grammar, in all aspects.
‘Tex’s French Grammar’ 🔗 A resource originally intended for Texas University students, but which has now been made available for students worldwide. The simple, easy-to-follow layout makes this an invaluable resource for brushing up on the basics of French grammar.
Lingolia 🔗 Split into grammar and vocabulary, this is a great way of targeting the specific areas you want to improve.
Point du FLE 🔗 Another great language-learning tool, including a useful section on conjugation.
Lawless French 🔗 This is a good website for reading comprehension practice.
Podcasts are a fantastic way to immerse yourself in the French language. You are likely to come across a variety of accents, speaking paces and tones, all of which are brilliant exposure to ‘real’ French, i.e. how it is spoken everyday, not how you’ve been used to with listening exercises from a textbook! Noting down phrases and vocab is a great way to expand your knowledge of the language, and is good scholarly practice for when you come to University.
‘News in Slow French’ 🔗 🌟 An excellent way to listen to natives talking about everyday issues - this can be useful when preparing for interviews, given the fact that you can expect to be asked a few things in French!
‘Coffee Break French’ 🔗 Available free on Spotify, this is a fun, informal chat between a native speaker and an English speaker, which includes some noteworthy discussion on vocabulary. Excellent preparation for general conversation, as well as discussions in any interviews you may have!
‘Les podcasts Français Authentique’ 🔗 This is a great podcast series that engages in meaningful discussion on idiomatic and authentic French language.
Watching videos or films in your target language is a great way to immerse yourself in it. Use English subtitles if you feel it necessary, or alternatively French subtitles if you can read and understand it well but struggle with the speed or accent.
Walter Presents on All 4 🔗 A free section of the streaming service, specialising in foreign language drama and comedy.
La Haine (film) - When a young Arab is arrested and beaten unconscious by police, a riot erupts in the Parisian suburbs. Three of the victim’s peers wander through their home turf, and while coming to grips with their grief, they find a police officer’s discarded weapon. From this point, their night seems poised to take a bleak turn.
Intouchables (film) - A Parisian aristocrat, quadriplegic since a paragliding accent, hires a young man to be his live-in carer. Although very different, the two men bond and develop a close friendship.
Entres les murs (film, originally a novel) - A semi-autobiographical account of Begaudeau’s experiences as a French language and literature teacher in a middle school in the 20th arrondissement of Paris, particularly illuminating his struggles with ‘problem children’.
Le Fabuleux Destin d’Amelie Poulain (film) - A fanciful comedy about a young woman who discretely orchestrates the lives of the people around her, creating a world exclusively of her own making.
These are an excellent pool of resources for your super-curricular reading which you might add to your personal statement. Take your pick!
‘Culturethèque’ 🔗 This is such a brilliant online library resource, offering a wide range of French e-books, audiobooks, lectures, films, documentaries and plays online including the full text of contemporary French novels and some rare items from the collections of the library of the Institut Français library in London.
‘Project Gutenberg’ 🔗 A massive online library containing thousands of e-books - this can be particularly good for finding some of the set texts on the course you’re looking at, texts on preparatory reading lists, or any books you want to read in French after reading them in English.
These are a few introductory books which you may find interesting/useful in terms of getting to grips with a period of literature, particular authors and so on. If you come across an author or period which particular interests you, do some further research on it - a quick Google search or look at the sources referenced in the original text. This process of self-motivated and self-guided research is great preparation for life as a student.
John D. Lyons, French Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)
John D. Lyons, The Cambridge Companion to French Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)
Nicholas Hewitt, The Cambridge Companion to Modern French Culture (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003)
You might see references to particular books, plays and poems in these introductory texts. Choose one to read, and perhaps read the English translation. This is a perfect way to show your super-curricular passion in your personal statement.
This list is not exhaustive, and there is no pressure to read a whole book in French. It may be useful to read the English translation first. Look up any French words you aren’t familiar with, and maybe make some flashcards or a set on Quizlet 🔗.
‘Le Fleurs du Mal’ by Charles Baudelaire 🔗 A collection of poetry dealing with themes such as decadence and eroticism.
An introduction to ‘Les Liasons Dangereuses’ 🔗 The University of Oxford have provided a comprehensive introduction to this French tale of seduction, deceit, love and revenge.
‘Le Rouge et Le Noir’ by Stendhal - Set in France during the Second Restoration, a powerful character study of Julien Sorel who uses seduction as a tool for his personal advancement.
‘La Venus d’Ille’ by Merimee - A short story about a statue of Venus that comes to life and kills the son of its owner, whom it believes to be its husband. A very accessible read, with fairly simple language.
‘La Peste’ by Albert Camus - A snapshot of life in the French Algerian city of Oran, from the author’s distinctive absurdist point of view.