skip to content

French

Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics

 

Summer Preparation

Ben Owen - Reflections (MMLL Photo Competition 2019)

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 below. 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:

  • New text from 2019: Marie de France, Lais, ed. by Karl Warnke, trans. by Laurence Harf-Lancner (Paris: Livre de Poche, 1990). ISBN: 225305271X
  • Pierre de Ronsard, Les Amours (1552-1584), ed. Marc Bensimon and James L. Martin (Paris: GF Flammarion, 1981). ISBN: 2080703358
    Sonnets pour Hélène, Books I and II (pp. 261-314)
  • Corneille, Horace, ed, Jean-Pierre Chauveau, Collection Folio Théâtre no. 16 (Paris: Gallimard, 1994). ISBN: 2070386600
  • New text from 2019: Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Discours sur l’origine et les fondements de l’inégalité parmi les hommes, ed. Jean Starobinski, Collection Folio Essais (Paris: Gallimard, 2008 [first published 1969]). ISBN 2070325415
  • Honoré de Balzac, Le Père Goriot, ed. Stéphane Vachon (Paris: Le Livre de Poche Classiques, 1995). ISBN: 2253085790
  • Agnès Varda (director), Cléo de 5 à 7 (1962)
  • Plus Linguistics if selected 

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

  • Culturethèque from the Institut français in London offers French cultural content online such as ebooks, films and audio, including some learning resources.
  • https://www.arte.tv/en/: Arte is good for cultural programmes in French.

See also https://www.mml.cam.ac.uk/french/online-resources 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 www.blackwells.co.uk, www.fnac.fr, or www.amazon.co.uk or www.amazon.fr. Secondhand copies of the set texts are sometimes also  available through the above websites or at  www.abebooks.com.