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Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics


Summer Preparation: French

Your summer preparation should focus on both aspects of your future course in French: the study of language and the study of literature, linguistics, film and thought.

Language preparation

It is vital that you work actively on your language skills in the summer before you arrive. It would be great to make a commitment to watch French TV or films, listen to French radio, and read French newspapers online every day for at least 30 minutes. You should also revise French grammar, especially if you will have taken a gap year since your A levels. Your goal is to enlarge your vocabulary, improve your listening skills, and increase the accuracy and complexity of both your written and spoken French, preferably while looking at media that you enjoy.

Students will be asked to use the following grammar book:

Margaret Jubb and Annie Rouxeville, French Grammar in Context (Routledge)

Preparatory reading

In order to be ready for FR1: Introduction to French literature, linguistics, film and thought, please take note of the reading list on the course page. It is essential that students purchase the texts in the prescribed editions. (Other editions vary considerably.) ISBN codes have been provided for the avoidance of confusion:The most important preparation for the course is looking at the set texts themselves.

Do not worry if you are unaccustomed to reading books in French or if you find these works difficult to understand, the course is designed to help you with this. However, you should dive in and do the best you can to read all the primary texts (and watch the film) over the summer before you arrive.

Students may also wish to consult the following accessible overviews of French literary history: 

John D. Lyons, French Literature: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010)

The Cambridge Introduction to French Literature, ed. Brian Nelson (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2015)

Once students are in Cambridge, they will have free online access to two further extremely useful background texts:

The Cambridge History of French Literature, ed. B. Burgwinkle, N. Hammond, E. Wilson (Cambridge University Press, 2011)

A Short History of French Literature, ed. S. Kay, T. Cave and M. Bowie (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2003)

Additional resources for French students

See also for a much wider range of podcasts etc.

Obtaining French books

A good source for French books in the UK is Grant & Cutler at Foyles, 107 Charing Cross Road, London WC2H 0DT, but it is often easy to order online from,, or or Secondhand copies of the set texts are sometimes also  available through the above websites or at