French 2601 (J. MacLean)

COURSE GUIDE (Fall 2010)

To be read carefully at the very beginning of the course. This is your guide to the course and contains all the instructions and necessary information for preparing classes and assignments and on how you will be evaluated.

It will take you a few minutes to study this document, but it is essential for your success in the course to familiarize yourself thoroughly each of the points explained in this guide. Your instructor will assume that you have carefully read and taken note of every instruction, so at no point in the course will you feel uncertain about what is expected for each class and each assignment. Assignments not prepared according to these instructions will not be credited.


Friday, September 24: First submission of vocabulary-grammar notebook assignment (for inspection only)
Friday, October 1: Submission of partial version of composition assignment (for inspection only)
Friday, October 22: Second submission of vocabulary-grammar notebook, for marking (15%)
Monday, October 25: Second submission of partial version of compostion assignment (for inspection only)
Wednesday, November 10: Final submission of composition assignment for marking (30%)
Monday, November 29: Final submission of vocabulary-grammar notebook, for marking (15%)


1. What is the purpose of textual study in French 2601?

The purpose of French 2601 is to equip you with the skills to understand with a high degree of accuracy what you read and to summarize and explain this to others in French.

Specifically we build on reading skills developed in French 1502 by the careful study of narrative and descriptice texts so as to facilitate your future reading of such works. These texts may be short or long, fiction or non-fiction. This study includes understanding the text at the level of each sentence, even each word. But it also includes understanding how they are structured and what techniques (procédés in French) are used to relate events and describe persons, objects and situations..

In the first instance, then, the text is studied with a view to developing the essential mastery of the grammar, vocabulary and idiom that you will need in order to read similar texts with ease in the future.. Therefore the purpose of studying these texts is not simply to understand these particular texts. The passage under consideration will be used as a point of departure for developing grammar and vocabulary points related to those found in the passage.

2. How should I prepare the assigned reading for each class?

The text of the assigned reading should be CAREFULLY prepared BEFORE each class. Here "carefully" means finding all new words and expressions in bilingual and unilingual dictionaries, consulting a reference grammar to understand any new constructions encountered (why, for example, a certain verb is in the subjunctive mood, or why the normal order of a subject and its verb is inverted).

As part of your preparation for class (and later, as a review exercise), you will find it helpful to read the assigned passages aloud. You will find this helpful for remembering new vocabulary and the major ideas of the reading.

In addition, you should master where applicable the "active vocabulary" found on the "Vocabulaire Actif" Web page. A selection of items will be taken from this page for your final exam.

In class you will be expected to be able to answer questions, both orally and on the blackboard, concerning ALL of the vocabulary in the assigned readings, and to explain the grammar and construction of all the sentences in these passages. If you do not fully understand an expression or construction you should prepare questions to ask the instructor in class.

You will also be assigned questions on the content, structure, and techniques of the texts studied, frequently from the study editions of these texts which have been assigned for the course. In class it will be expected that you have prepared these questions. See the "Exercices" page for exercises you should prepare before class. These exercises will be either (i) discussed in class orally, (ii) discussed orally in small groups, or (iii) answered in writing on the blackboard. You should come to class prepared to answer the assigned exercise questions in any of these three ways.

3. Will I be able to learn everything I need from class discussion?

You will not benefit from class discussion unless you have prepared the reading assignment and questions before coming to class. Requiring such preparation is intended to allow you to make the most efficient use possible of your time, and is based on the observation that students profit from textual study only when they have diligently worked through the text themselves before class discussion. Experience has shown that students who attempt to garner from class discussion bits of information concerning an unfamiliar text derive little benefit from their efforts. (See the last paragraph of the answer to question 17 and question 23 on the matter of time management.)

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4. Why is the preparation of a Vocabulary and Grammar Notebook assigned?

Since a major objective of French 2601 is to give you the tools you need in order to read, in the future, with ease and thoroughness of understanding, texts designed to inform or persuade, it is essential to increase significantly your vocabulary and familiarity with the structures of French. The specific objective for French 2601 is to learn to recognize two or three new expressions or constructions a day. To help meet this objective you will prepare in a STENO notebook, following the instructions and model distributed in class by the instructor, daily notes with contextualized new vocabulary and grammar points you learn in all of your readings in French.

5. What do you mean by "contextualized" vocabulary?

Giving a short direct quotation of a few words (sentence fragment, or very short sentence), taken from your readings or dictionaries, that illustrate how the word is used, and which help you remember the word (see the model distributed in class). Do not make up the illustration yourself.

6. How many items should I include in my notebook?

About twenty a week, leading to a total of about 250 (but a maximum of 300) items at the end of the term.

7. Is it not difficult to learn that many items in one term?

No, providing you learn two or three every day, testing yourself immediately after entering them in your notebook and reviewing what you have learned at the end of each week. But do not try to learn thirty or thirty-five new items all at once!

8. What are the advantages of learning vocabulary this way?

The principal advantage is that you yourself make the decisions and take responsibility for determining what you need to and should learn, rather than simply having the instructor tell you. In choosing outside readings you will be able to build up vocabulary in areas that interest you personally, and you will be rewarded for this in receiving marks for your work.

Another advantage is that it will help you master the vocabulary of texts studied in class, which in turn will lead to higher marks on your examinations.

9. From what readings should I find material to put in my Vocabulary and Grammar Notebook?

You should include vocabulary and grammar items from both readings discussed in class and from your own choice of out-of-class readings in French. A wide variety of readings in French is made available on the course Web site (click on "Lectures sur Internet" near the top of the main French 2601 Web page), and others are available in the French department seminar and reading room (SN-4035) and in the university library.

10. May I include in my Vocabulary and Grammar Notebook material from notebooks prepared in other courses or from old periodicals?

No. The entries in the notebook must not include entries used in similar notebooks for any other course taken by the student. For this reason entries taken from periodical literature (including newspapers and magazines published on the Internet) may be taken only from periodicals published between April 2010 and November 2010.


Academic Offences defined in University Regulations 4.11.4 of the Calendar include "plagiarism", "copying from another student's work or allowing another student to copy from one's own work", and "submitting work for one course which has been or is being submitted for another course." Penalties range from reprimand and reduction of marks to suspension or expulsion from the university. Consult the university Calendar.

11. How do I distinguish between words and grammar points I want to be able to use myself, and those I want only to be able to recognize?

Vocabulary items that you wish to assimilate into your active (productive, as opposed to simple recognition) vocabulary (normally no less than 25% of items in the notebook) should be marked with an asterisk (*) beside the English (or French) equivalent of the term in the right-hand (or both) column(s) of the steno notebook.

12. How will my instructor know exactly how many and what readings I have used for this notebook?

At the back of the notebook, starting on the very last page, there must be a numbered bibliography of all readings you used in the preparation of the notebook, including publication data for each item. The information should be clear enough that your instructor could easily find the readings cited if he wished to check them, and it should include URL addresses of material read on the Internet.

13. Will there be questions from my personal notebook on the final exam?

In the Fall 2010 section of French 2601(001) there will be no questions taken directly from your personal notebook, but a major part of the final examination will comprise vocabulary studied in the assigned readings. Their inclusion in your notebook will be beneficial for exam results.

14. When will I have to pass my notebook in, and how much is it worth?

The notebook will be submitted three times: on Friday, September 24 (with 40-50 entries) for inspection and advice; on Friday, Ocotber 22(with 125-150 entries) for a mark of 15%; and on Monday, November 29 (with 250-300 entries) for a further 15%. In order to ensure fairness to all students, 0.2% of the final mark will be deducted each day beyond the deadline that the notebook assignment is not submitted.

15. How will the notebook be marked?

The criteria used in determining the mark of the notebook will be: (a) the care with each entry has been prepared, especially evidence of work with a dictionary showing different meanings of the word in question and, importantly, examples of contexts in which the word is used (quotations of short sentences or phrases); (b) inclusion of paradigms and explanations of grammatical points encountered in reading; (c) the number and variety of readings done by the student; (d) the number of entries in the notebook (about 250 for normal "B" level work, to a maximum of 300).

IMPORTANT NOTE: Notebook assignments not prepared according to the specific instructions for this section of French 2601 will not be accepted and credited. For example, notebooks in which adjectives are not listed in the masculine singular form, verbs not listed in the infinitive form or not labelled as transitive, indirect transitive or pronominal, and notebooks without a bibliography at the back or without labelling of personal active vocabulary, will not be credited.

Check list for submission of notebook assignment:

1. Are all items numbered consecutively, without restarting the numbering for new dates or new sources?

2. Is there a numbered bibliography at the very back (last page of the notebook), indicating what source(s) you have used (even if for the time being there is only one)?

3. Are all the entries facing the same way when you open your steno pad flat, displaying two pages?

4. Do all or most entries include in the left-hand column a quotation of a short sentence (or a few words from part of a sentence), found in your readings or your dictionaries, which illustrate the meaning or meanings of the word?

5. Is every verb entry in the infinitive or dictionary form (ending in -er, -ir or re)?

6. Is every verb entry clearly labelled "vt" (transitive verb, taking a direct object), "vti" (indirect transitive verb, taking an indirect object), "vi" (intransitive verb, never taking a direct object), or "vpr" (pronominal verb)?

7. Is every noun entry given in the singular, with irregular plural forms noted when necessary?

8. Is the gender of every noun clearly indicated either by an article (le or la, un or une) or by a label?

9. Is every adjective entry given in the masculine singular form, with irregular feminine or plural forms noted when necessary?

10. Have you marked with an asterisk in the righthand (or both) column(s) of the steno pad about a quarter of your entries to indicate that you will learn these items as part of your active, productive (and not just recognition) vocabulary?

11. Have you included some grammatical explanations or paradigms of new grammar points you have encountered in your reading?


16. Am I responsible for everything covered in class, including material not found explicitly in the textbooks or assigned readings?


For examination purposes, students will be responsible both for everything assigned for study and for everything discussed in class (including new vocabulary not appearing in the passages assigned for study).

17. How important is it in this course to attend every class?

In the past, students who missed a class typically failed on examination questions devoted to the passage and exercises discussed in that class.

Students often miss class because of some other pressing commitment, such as an assignment for another course that must be completed or an exam the same day. It is therefore very important for you to plan the whole of each week in such a way that you allot sufficient time to complete your different course requirements without missing any classes. If you have trouble organizing your time, you are encouraged to seek advice on this matter at the university Counselling Centre.

18. What should I do then if I have to miss a class for reasons of illness?

On your return to the university you should immediately see your instructor during his office hour (Monday to Friday 4:00-5:00 or by appointment in Fall 2010) to determine what you missed and what remedial work can be done, and to obtain any documents that might have been distributed in class. Please do not e-mail your instructor to advise him of your absence from a single class -- the important thing is to find out what you missed when you return to university. However, if you have to be absent for more than one class you are advised to telephone or e-mail your instructor to inform him of the situation and make arrangements for catching up on missed work.

19. What is the format of the final exam, and what should I study for it?

About half the exam will test your ability to understand the literal sense of the readings you will have studied. For this half of the exam you are responsible for being able to recognize and identify all the French vocabulary and grammar constructions in all of the readings you will have done during the semester. In addition there will be a selection of items in English from the "Vocabulaire Actif" Web page for which you will have to give the correct French equivalent taken from your readings.

The second half of the exam will consist of questions on such matters as the theme and plot of the works you will have studied.

To prepare for the final exam you should (i) reread each passage studied with your notes on vocabulary and grammar, (ii) study notes you have taken on the content of the readings, (iii) study your answers to the exercises assigned for class discussion, (iv) be sure you can give the French equivalent for each item inthe "Vocabulaire Actif", and (v) know all the vocabulary in your personal Vocabulary and Grammar Notebook drawn from the course readings. You should spend an hour at the end of each week reviewing this material, and several hours before the final exam studying the material covered throughout the term.

See above section A on preparation of readings.

20. Is there anything else that I will be responsible for in each class?

Yes. You will be responsible for all announcements made in class concerning assignments, examinations, etc., as well as for any documents that might be distributed in class.

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21. What are the requirements for my written assignm?

All of the information you will need about your written assignment is found in the document entitled Devoir écrit distributed in the first class and found on the Internet at http:/


22. What is the level of French proficiency in this course?

French 2601 can be considered an intermediate university level French course. Students at the French 2601 level should be able to understand and express themselves in carefully spoken oral French, and, with the help of their bilingual and unilingual dictionaries and a good reference grammar (see "Livres obligatoires" in the course outline), should be able to read the passages assigned for study and write short essays and examination answers with accurate grammar, vocabulary and spelling.

23. How many hours per week of out-of-class work will this course require?

French 2601 is not a "heavy" course with respect to workload, but it is important to keep up with the work on a daily basis. The different assignments in this course overlap considerably. For example, much of the work for the Vocabulary Notebook is in fact synonymous with preparation and review of your readings.

Typically you will need to spend about an hour a day on out-of-class work; for example: 3 hours per week studying the assigned reading (finding all new vocabulary in your dictionaries, checking grammatical forms and constructions in your reference grammar, taking notes on the content of the passage, reading the assigned passage aloud), 1.5 hours preparing the assigned exercises for each reading, a total of about 1 hour making 20 entries (3 per day) in your Vocabulary and Grammar Notebook, 1.5 hours for the written assignments. Planning and budgeting your time are important ingredients to success in this course.

24. What has led to success and what has led to problems in this course in the past?.

Students who have done well in this course in the past (70%+) have usually attended every class, have prepared every assigned reading and exercise thoroughly before class, have read aloud the assigned readings two or three times, have carefully checked over their written work (including answers to assigned exercises), have spent time at the end of every week testing themselves on the vocabulary studied and reviewing the passages read, exercises completed, as well as class notes, and they have availed themselves of every opportunity to speak, read and listen to French (on radio and television, for example).

The difficulties experienced by a very small number of students can be attributed to different factors. The most common cause is not keeping up with the work on a daily basis and missing class: this is often a simple problem of time management (see answers to questions 17 and 23).

Another difficulty that can occur at this level is an erroneous assumption by the student that she or he already has an excellent command of French and therefore needs to make only a minimal commitment to the work in French 2601. This difficulty often arises with students, such as ex-French Immersion students, who do indeed have good comprehension and communication skills but whose command of such matters as the use of tense and mood, agreement, accurate vocabulary, and spelling and other aspects of written expression, are insufficient for 2000-level university French. Such students usually do very well once they make a commitment to an hour a day of out-of-class work in French 2601.

25. Are there any opportunities for extra help outside of class?

Yes. First, if you have any questions or difficulties, and especially if there are any sentences in the assigned readings you do not completely understand, you can see your instructor during his office hours (Monday to Friday 4:00-5:00, or by appointment in Fall 2010). Secondly, an appointment can be made with your instructor's student assistant for help in such matters as grammar questions on your written assignments. Thirdly, the student assistants in the French Help Centre (SN 4035 at times to be announced), although employed to work mainly with 1000-level students, may occasionally be able to answer questions for French 2601. Naturally this help cannot consist of pre-correcting your assignment. Student assistants are instructed not to correct or rewrite assignments. However they are able to answer specific questions you might have and to give you help in finding answers to your difficulties in your dictionaries and reference grammar. Extra help is under no circumstances to be a subsitute for regular class attendance, and it will not be available to students who are absent from class without cause.

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