Why Study French?

French has long been one of the most influential languages in the world, and the number of French speakers in the world is currently on the rise. As the official language of 29 countries across the globe, French plays a crucial role in the fields of education, international relations and development, business, and media/arts/culture production. Learning French thus opens up a world of possibilities as students acquire linguistic and cross-cultural skills important for both professional and personal enrichment.

Why Study French at Wheaton College?

300-400 Level Courses
Full-Time Faculty
Overseas Study/Internship Possibilities

Studying French at Wheaton is an adventure in cross-cultural communication.  We believe that linguistic and cultural diversity is a gift from God and we celebrate that diversity by studying the history, literature, cinema, and art of the French-speaking world both inside and outside of France, including many countries in Africa and the Caribbean, Quebec, and Louisiana.   In addition to learning how to communicate creatively and accurately, students who study French at Wheaton sharpen their analytical skills and cultivate the Christian virtues of compassion and empathy.  Studying abroad (usually in France or Quebec) is an exciting, integral aspect of our program, and many students cite their overseas experience as the most important and enriching component of their undergraduate studies.

Alumni Testimonial

Torrey Benware '13 explains how his French degree has expanded his world-view and benefitted his career as a United States Naval Officer.

Where to Find Us

  • Sheri Abel, Ph.D. - Section Coordinator
    MCA 258 | 630-752-5716
  • Alan Savage, Ph.D. 
    MCA 260 | 630-752-5793

For general inquiries on the French program, please reach out to Dr. Sheri Abel, the section coordinator.

What Will I Learn?

As a French major at Wheaton, you will learn the forms and functions of the French language, understand native speech and writing, and learn to communicate creatively and comprehensively in French. From grammar, composition, and conversation courses to courses on history, culture, literature, and teaching, the French curriculum will allow you to fully grasp the French language and culture.

You will grow in your understanding of and appreciation for the peoples of the Francophone world through: 

  • study of the historical, philosophical, religious and artistic development of French and Francophone cultures
  • exposure to representative works of the various literary genres and related art forms of the French-speaking world 
  • exploration of the issues and lifestyles of contemporary Francophone societies
  • personal interaction with native speakers in the countries where French is spoken

As you study French you'll also gain an enhanced awareness of your own linguistic, cultural, and religious heritage. Through clarifying your understanding of yourself, you will also learn to relate with respect and consideration to people from other backgrounds. Many of our alumni found this to be one of the most valuable aspects of their French study at Wheaton. As a result, they were well prepared to find success in a variety of careers that called them to interact with people from around the world.


Opportunities for French Majors

Quebec City

While classroom instruction significantly contributes to learning a second language, everyday, meaningful interaction with the culture and people allows for more effective learning. For this reason, the French major at Wheaton requires academic study in a French-speaking country of your choice. You can choose to study for a semester or year abroad, or they may participate in approved summer programs offered by partner organizations. 

The French section is, however, committed to providing students with the coursework and experiences needed to complete the major. Every other summer, groups of up to 20 students head off to France for the Wheaton in France program. In addition to a rigorous academic experience, you'll have the opportunity to visit many sites of historic and cultural importance in the company of Wheaton professors who help you process your experience -- all the while keeping issues of faith in the forefront.

Wheaton offers a PK-12 Professional Educator License (PEL) in teaching a modern language (Spanish, French, or German). Other endorsements, such as ESL/Bilingual or Special Education can be added to this initial license, which can be earned as an undergraduate student or in conjunction with the Master of Arts in Teaching.

We partner with the Wheaton College Center for Vocation and Career and other organizations to alert our French students to internship and employment opportunities that require various levels of French proficiency. We also help Wheaton students identify opportunities to use their French skills in local and international volunteer and ministry positions.

The Violet-Bergquist Scholarship is awarded to an outstanding Junior or Senior student who is a French major preparing either to teach or to use French in Christian Service. For further information, please see the French section leader. 

Located on the third floor of Wyngarden Hall, the Language Resource Center provides resources for language students to pursue the study and improvement of their language skills. It provides computers for writing projects, language-specific software, a growing catalog of foreign language and language-related videos and DVDs, equipment for viewing them, and audio equipment for listening to class-related materials. 

Join your fellow francophiles in Anderson Commons for casual conversation and language practice over dinner at least once a week. The discussion is led by a student with advanced skills, but any member of the campus community interested in using or improving French language skills is welcome to join the group.

Meet the Faculty

Alan Savage Headshot

Dr. Alan Savage

Dr. Savage is passionate about all things French and Francophone, including history, literature, cinema and grammar.  Read his biography >

Sheri Abel Headshot

Dr. Sheri Abel

Dr. Abel's current research focuses on the use of expressive arts in the foreign language classroom. Read her biography >

By majoring in French, my spiritual, intellectual, and emotional life has been affected for the better. — Andrea Kohlenberg '20, French & Intl Relations Read More