The French language is spoken by 118 million people living not only in France, but also in other parts of Europe as well as in Canada, the Caribbean, North and Sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia. It is a major international language of the arts, commerce, diplomacy, and science. In the United States, as of 2013, more students study French than any other foreign language except Spanish. French is one of the working languages of such international institutions as the United Nations, the European Union, the World Health Organization, and the World Trade Organization, and it is the sole language used for the deliberations of the Court of Justice of the European Union. It is an official language of 29 countries.
The centuries-old relationship of anglophone and francophone cultures is manifest in a rich common heritage. Some 30% of English words are of French origin, and the artistic, literary, and philosophical ties between France and English-speaking countries are countless.
RLL's French program offers training in the spoken and written language through small, highly interactive classes. Texts, films and special events showcase the literatures and cultures of French-speaking world regions both past and present. French students are strongly encouraged to study abroad for a summer, a semester, or a full year. There are quality affordable SUNY programs throughout France as well as in Quebec, Senegal, Morocco, and Switzerland.
French courses are taught in the target language from the first day of the first class. Every session is highly interactive, with students encouraged to speak several times, both spontaneously and when called on. In introductory classes, instructors model usage and pronunciation and the class repeats and practices until the new pattern is learned. As students move through the curriculum, their participation evolves; students perform original skits as well as scenes from established dramatic works, and in advanced classes they present their research findings to the class and respond to feedback, all in the target language. The RLL curriculum emphasizes language mastery as well as the development of analytical skill, literary analysis, and cultural knowledge. Current events, whether in Marseilles or Mexico City or Quebec or Rome, are a focus throughout the curriculum. Courses are small in size. Graduate teaching assistants or adjunct faculty staff most 100-level and some 200-level classes, and regular faculty staff virtually all 300- and 400-level courses.
RLL recently updated its departmental classroom to provide state-of-the-art audio visual technology for classroom presentations, lectures and films. The department also has a Québec Studies seminar room with specially dedicated materials and equipment available to support film study. A spacious conference room serves for meetings and oral exams. All regular classrooms are equipped with up-to-date computing and display technology and are linked by a T1 connection to the Internet. Secure wifi is ubiquitous on campus.
The breadth of faculty specializations in the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures and a pan-Romance model make for an actively interdisciplinary research and teaching agenda which promotes linguistic, literary, cultural, and visual literacies. We have emerging interests in Catalan and Portuguese, with cross-disciplinary strengths in Iberian and Latin American Studies, Francophone Canadian, Caribbean, and Sub-Saharan Studies, Early Modern Studies, as well as Cultural, Postcolonial, Gender, Disability, and Urban and Landscape Studies, in addition to Poetry, Theater and Performance, Film, and Romance Linguistics. RLL faculty contribute to interdisciplinary initiatives such as UB’s Humanities Institute, the Gender Institute, the Early Modern Reading Group, Poetics and Canadian Studies.
RLL graduate students are productive and high achieving. They have successfully competed for UB Presidential scholarships; been short-listed for Fulbright and Ford fellowships; received CAS and Humanities Institute dissertation writing grants; had papers accepted in major disciplinary conferences articles accepted for publication at peer-reviewed journals. They organize an annual conference and publish its proceedings.
Full time tenured/tenure track RLL faculty: 15
Teaching assistants: 22
Adjunct faculty: 5-7
Please visit the Romance Languages and Literatures department website for additional information about our faculty.
Students who choose RLL and especially the French program as their main academic home at UB find a number of career opportunities open to them. Among graduates in the past decade, a small number have gone on to do graduate work in French, several have gone on to law school or business school, and others have found positions with the U.S. State Department, as well as in secondary education. Whatever career appeals to graduating students, fluency in French will assuredly be an advantage.
Some careers our graduates have pursued include:
- Anthropology and Linguistics
- Public relations
- Customs and immigration
- Diplomacy and foreign service
- Post-secondary and secondary education
- International student advisement
- International trade
- International relations
- Broadcast and print journalism
- Federal civil service
Department faculty advisors are available to consult with students for academic advising.
Students who are planning a major or minor in French, or who have questions about initial placement or study abroad integration or course planning, should always feel free to request an advisement appointment either using the online request form on the RLL website, or email Romance Languages and Literatures . A faculty advisor will reply and provide guidance and suggestions.
The Linda Rock Scholarship and the Maria Becker Scholarship are awarded twice annually to students majoring or sometimes minoring in French who have applied to and been accepted by a study abroad program. The awards are granted on the basis of academic merit, but financial need can also be taken into consideration.