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The University of Southampton

FREN1016 The Making of Modern French

Module Overview

This module provides knowledge about key periods and events in French language history which have been influential in forming French as a standardised national language.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • the processes involved in the making of Modern French;
  • sociolinguistic phenomena such as language contact, diglossia, and bilingualism;
  • the position of French as a world language;
  • different varieties of French and the linguistic heterogeneity of France
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • engage with theory on language use and change in relation to French;
  • appreciate critically key notions;
  • reflect on the importance of people (i.e. language users) when it comes to studying language;
  • organise and present information in an academic way.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • demonstrate understanding of elements of theory which can be applied to the study of other languages;
  • work effectively in different modes: carrying out individual research, collaborating with partners, exchanging ideas, presenting findings, and engaging in self- evaluation;
  • present ideas in a structured, coherent manner.
Subject Specific Practical Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • access critical material in the target language;
  • be more aware when using French of the social meanings that can be attached to speech.


This module deals with: (a) the making of Modern French, and its coexistence with non-standard social and situational variants within metropolitan France; (b) the nature and status of French in multilingual societies outside metropolitan France. It aims to provide the following: - Factual knowledge concerning: (a) the emergence and dissemination of standard French; (b) the status of French and its relationship to other languages in different francophone territories; (c) certain features of different varieties of French; - Improvement of understanding of basic linguistic and sociolinguistic concepts, by means of examples from the French-speaking world. This involves consideration of the following: language change and history, regional variation, language contact, diglossia, bilingualism, the relationship between linguistic and non-linguistic divisions in multilingual societies. An awareness of the pervasiveness of variation in language use, and a realisation that “French” could be regarded as several languages rather than just one.

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include • 1 lecture and 1 seminar per week. Learning activities include • Collaborative research on chosen topics to lead to production of a study-notes style document which will be peer-reviewed and tutor-reviewed (using the discussion board on Blackboard). See further details below.

Completion of assessment task40
Follow-up work40
Wider reading or practice40
Preparation for scheduled sessions2
Total study time146

Resources & Reading list

Ball, R. (1997). The French-speaking World, a Practical Introduction to Sociolinguistic Issues. 

Battye, Adrian; Hintze, Marie-Anne; & Rowlett, Paul (2000). The French Language Today. 

Adamson, R. (2007). The defence of French: a language in crisis?. 

Cerquiligni, B. (ed.) (2003). Les langues de France. 

Grillo, R.D. (1989). Dominant Languages: Language and Hierarchy in Britain and France. 

Mesthrie, R., Swann, J., Deumert, A., and Leap, W. (2000). Introducing Sociolinguistics. 

Sanders, Carol (ed.) (1993). French Today. 

Hagege, C. (1996). Le Français, histoire d'un combat. 


Assessment Strategy

Assessments designed to provide informal, on-module feedback • Production of a handout-style assignment with peer and tutor review. Assessment Method Production of notes on a chosen topic (1000 words) with an accompanying account (400 words) of how peer and tutor review, and self-evaluation/further research have served to enhance the finished version. (Students will also be required to produce a peer review of 300 words – this forms part of the critical involvement assessment, see below). Critical involvement: reflection on seminar participation (300 words) and a peer review (300 words). This has a self-assessed grade (in consultation with tutor). Discussion essay of 1,500 words from a selection of titles.


MethodPercentage contribution
Essay  (1500 words) 40%
Written assignment  (1400 words) 50%
Written assignment  (600 words) 10%


MethodPercentage contribution
Assignment  (2200 words) 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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