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French 2159

Advanced French for First-Year Students I

How many errors (and how many different types of error?) can you spot in the following simple French excerpt?

« Bonjour. Mon nom est Michèle, et je suis une étudiante. Je suis dix-huit, et j’aime prendre des photographes. J’habite dans un apartement avec quelques amies. »

It is often surprisingly hard for English-speakers to recognise and eliminate various kinds of anglicisms from their French. The passage above contains several different types of anglicism: orthographic, where the influence of English spelling makes us misspell a similar French word with the same meaning ("appartement" has two ‘p’s!); lexical, where we use the wrong French word because it is more similar to the English word than the correct one ("photographe" means "photographer"; "photographie" would be the right word here); syntactic, where the actual structure of English is imposed on French (for example, saying "je suis une étudiante" and "je suis dix-huit" rather than "je suis étudiante" and "j’ai dix-huit ans"). Stylistic anglicisms involve expressions that while not really incorrect may be considered less appropriate or authentic than others: for example, rather than saying "Mon nom est …", most French speakers will normally say "Je m’appelle …".

Course Content

Because students who have graduated from French immersion programmes are especially prone to these types of error, dealing with anglicisms is an important part of French 2159 and 2160. Students learn strategies to help them identify and correct the most common types of errors, particularly in written French where they are the most damaging. As well, a lot of time is spent on composition in these courses. French 2159 deals with two basic types of writing: informative writing, where we simply want to convey as much information as possible; and descriptive writing, where our aim is to evoke as tangibly as possible our impressions of an event, a person, a place, a thing or an experience. Selected grammatical topics of special difficulty to English-speakers are also covered, and students usually read a literary work consisting of short stories. Some instructors may choose to include systematic work on morphological derivation (for example, making a noun out of a related verb, or an adjective from a noun) and French phonetics, including the use of the International Phonetic Alphabet.


To take French 2159, you need to have graduated from a French immersion programme. As well, because this is a more challenging course than the normal first-year sequence, you will be asked to take a placement test designed to confirm that your knowledge of basic French is good enough to give you the best chance of success. Students who enter Memorial with advanced knowledge of French may apply to the Head for permission to register for 2159.


Textbooks used in recent years include Grammaire française by Jacqueline Ollivier; Pratique de l’écriture by Diane Beelen Woody; and either Jacques Ferron’s Contes or Michel Tournier’s Le médianoche amoureux.


Term mark, assigned to a combination of compositions, tests and assignments, is usually given a weight of 60%, while a written final examination counts 40%.


French 2159 is normally offered in the Fall Semester.

Along with 2159

Students registering for 2159 who are planning a major or minor in French should also consider registering for one of the following: French 2300 (phonetics), 2601 or 2602 (introductory reading techniques), 2900 (civilization).

After 2159

Students who have completed French 2159 are advised to continue with 2160. They may also register for French 2300 (phonetics), 2601 or 2602 (introductory reading techniques), 2900 (civilization)