Prepare to Study Abroad

Musée du Louvre, Paris

Would you like to study abroad in France or in a Francophone Country?

Have you thought about how to best prepare for directly matriculating in a French-speaking university?

We all dream of traveling to a foreign country and being able to communicate with native speakers in their own language. One of the chief goals of language study is to allow us to envision and experience the world through a language and a culture other than our own. If we wish to study in a foreign country, however, and directly matriculate with those who have been using their mother tongue since childhood, we need to develop a higher and more specialized proficiency. This is particularly true of the French language, where written and spoken discourses tend to differ on many points. Therefore, it is crucial for anyone wishing a study abroad experience in French to prepare adequately, and have expectations commensurate with one’s linguistic preparation. Students looking to study at a Sciences Po campus should follow the Intensive track (FREN-2012 recommended).

In Department of French and Francophone Studies, we require that all students who wish to study abroad in a French or Francophone Program for a semester or an academic year present themselves for a Study Abroad Evaluation. These evaluations usually happen in October and February, prior to the due dates for application to the various study abroad programs. You should always take the evaluation at the session closest to the date of the program you desire, unless the programs you select for your first and second choices have different application dates, in which case you should present yourself for evaluation immediately prior to the earliest application due date. The Office of Global Education can offer you the most current information on programs and due dates for applications; you should always check their website first when determining at what time you need to take the Study Abroad Evaluation.

Please note: If you are enrolled in a level BELOW Intensive Advanced I or Advanced II, in the semester you apply to go abroad, you may not be adequately prepared to directly matriculate in a French university. If you want to study abroad in a Francophone country, you should consider an Intensive Language Program like the one offered in Strasbourg, where you might be able to directly matriculate in the spring semester, if you place into the appropriate level upon your arrival in the fall. You should plan to do summer study in order to perform at a higher level in the Intensive Language Program and therefore maximize your chances of directly matriculating in the Spring.

Place des Terreaux, Lyon

IN ALL CASES you should expect to intensify your contact with the French language in the term prior to your departure.

This should include:

  • Reading materials in French for an hour every day (ideally): newspapers, magazines, books, websites, etc.
  • Check out the resources of our Language Learning Technologies Center (ICC 227)
  • Listening to French for an hour every day, either on the radio (through the internet), on videotapes, on audio tapes, etc.
  • Writing in French regularly: take notes in class, write a diary, do crossword puzzles, write e-mails to friends.
  • These activities do not have to be “academic”: they are meant to familiarize yourself with an environment in which French is the primary means of communication, so as to minimize culture shock.

Once again, these are guidelines to assist you in preparing yourself for both the Study Abroad Evaluation and the study abroad experience. If you have any questions, you should not hesitate to contact the Study Abroad Coordinator, Professor Guy Spielmann ( or the Chair of the Department of French and Francophone Studies, Professor Susanna Lee (

Remember: the earlier you start preparing, the more ready you will be! It is never too early to discuss your study plans and never too early to ask for advice on how YOU can improve your command of the French language.

For administrative matters and program descriptions, please refer to the pages of the Office of Global Education (OGE). The final administrative decision and specific program placement rests with the OGE staff, not the department evaluation team.

Dakar, Sénégal