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Vive la France

Knowledge of French will stand you in good stead when you apply for higher studies in France or in any other francophone countries, says Pranab Ghosh

education Updated: Aug 25, 2010 12:05 IST
Pranab Ghosh

Till the year 2004, students passing out from Alliance Francaise got an India-specific certificate issued by the Alliance network. An international certification in French language training was introduced in the year 2005.

Approximately 2000 students received the DELF-DALF certification that year. The number increased to 8,800 in the year 2009 and this year approximately 11,000 students will pass the certification from the Alliance network in India.

The figures indicate the growing popularity of French language among Indian students. “French has always been a popular foreign language (among Indian students) and has maintained its status,” says professor Vijaya Rao of Centre for French and Francophone studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

Concurs Shubhada Kaul, professor of French language at Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. “In the last 12 years, French as a language and French courses have all been rising in popularity.” At present there are more than 250 students studying French as a foreign language, at various levels of proficiency at Jamia.

The Delhi University is no exception as well. “This year there were over 2000 applicants for admission to the BA (Honours) course conducted at the department,” says professor Kusum Aggarwal, of the Department of Germanic and Romance studies, DU. Even more colleges are showing interest in launching part-time courses in French language, she says. “The number of seats for students learning French has more than doubled since I joined in 1987,” says professor Asha Pande of the Centre of French and Francophone Studies, University of Rajasthan. Even then, “we have long waiting lists and mind you the cutoff (mark) is highest in French courses,” she points out.

The courses:
“Learning French language is not difficult any longer, thanks to the existence of Alliance Francaise, not only in the metropolitan cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Chennai and Hyderabad, but also in all major cities of India like Chandigarh, Pune, Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Pondicherry and Trivandrum,” says Chantal Prost, attache for cooperation in French language, Embassy of France. She is also in-charge of promotion of French language in Indian schools and universities.

Apart from learning French at Alliance, one can also pursue full-time degree or diploma courses at various big universities across the country. DU offers BA(Honours) and MA courses in French studies. It also offers MPhil and PhD courses. “Besides, French is also taught as a discipline under the BA programme in three colleges, and as a part-time course (certificate, diploma, and advanced diploma) in about 20 (DU) colleges,” says Aggarwal.

“At the undergraduate level in Jamia, we have French as a subsidiary/optional subject for students of all three years – BA first, second and third year,” says Kaul.

The university also conducts a certificate, a diploma and an advanced diploma course in French. “Any person holding an advanced diploma plus a graduate degree in any subject is eligible to apply for a Master’s programme in French,” she says. JNU on the other hand only offers full-time courses – BA (Honours), MA with specialisation either in literature or translation-interpretation, MPhil, and PhD. The University of Rajasthan has a certificate, a diploma and post-diploma programmes. “As part of the BA programme French as an optional subject is taught in various colleges of the University of Rajasthan and in many private colleges in Jaipur,” says Pande. This apart the university has master level courses – MA (French), and Master’s in European studies (launched in 2007). There is also a PG diploma in European studies (launched this year) and PhD programmes in French language teaching, literature and culture studies.

The courses in Alliance Francaise network all follow the common format used for learning any European language. The language proficiency is divided in levels such as beginners/basic (A1,A2), independent (B1,B2) and proficient (C1,C2). “To attain a certain level of proficiency in the language a student needs to have attained the minimum level of B2,” says Prost.

Job opportunities
“A good level in French can get one job opportunities in upcoming French multinational companies in India,” says Prost. French degrees will no doubt give one access to Franco-Indian trade and industry. The students learning French can also go to France for higher studies. The French universities offer many courses and the French government also offers scholarships to students going to France for higher education. Moreover, “as there are many francophone countries, the students are not restricted to one particular destination for higher studies or exploring job opportunities. They can go to countries like Canada, Switzerland, Luxemburg, Belgium etc,” says Prost.

With a degree in French language the students can also become professional translators with MNCs settling in India or with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, government of India. They may also work in the embassies of the various francophone countries in India. There are approximately 25 such countries represented in Delhi. One may even opt for teaching at either a school or a college or a university. Already there are more than 10,000 French teachers at various schools. One may even join the hospitality/tourism sector.

Knowledge of French will stand you in good stead even when you are travelling to foreign shores. “It gives one additional advantage and more credits to any candidate applying for a visa to any francophone country, especially Canada,” says Prost.