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Offer Holders

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Information for Offer Holders: French

What will your first-year French Studies look like?

French at Cambridge is an intensive course: we develop students’ language skills in the use of French, translation and oral practice through a series of fortnightly classes, and we offer lectures in a wide-ranging introduction to French literature, film and thought. In addition, you will have supervisions or small-group tuition organised by your college.


Language work aims to train students to use all elements of French grammar and syntax. Each student has fortnightly classes in Use of French and Translation from French. These are organised centrally in the French Section within the faculty of MMLL, and you will receive your timetable before the start of term.

In Use of French, we hope to encourage the active use of the language in reaction to a variety of topics, and in different contexts and registers. Knowledge of grammar and syntax will be reinforced and built upon in class, and students will extend their vocabulary, improve their writing style, and develop the ability to analyse and produce creative responses to French texts.

In Translation from French, we introduce students to a range of material covering the period 1500 to the present day, written in a range of styles and genres. Although great attention will be paid to accuracy, there will be an equal concern with matching the style and nuances of the original text, and with producing good, accurate and idiomatic English of the appropriate register (level of formality). The classes will introduce students to the basics of translation theory via a discussion of different strategies for translation. Students are obviously not expected to know every word that they will encounter in the end-of-year exams, and much of the skill in translating under exam conditions lies in using contextual clues to come up with solutions that are plausible and coherent even if they are not strictly “correct”.  

Two lectures will also be dedicated to sixteenth- and seventeenth-century texts, dealing with points of grammar and syntax as well as vocabulary.

In addition, your college will arrange oral supervisions for you with a French ‘lecteur’ or ‘lectrice’, in which you can practise your conversational French skills.

Literature, Linguistics, Film and Thought

In addition to your language classes, you will also take paper FR1: Introduction to French literature, linguistics, film and thought. Please see the course page for a full current description of content and topics.