Higher Education Department of the French Embassy conducts innovative study regrouping the needs of French departments across the country

To see the full summary of the survey, please click the PDF file link below. 

The Higher Education Department of the Embassy of France in the United States recently conducted a nationwide survey of university French departments. Entitled Survey of French departments in US colleges and universities: A snapshot of academic departments, partnerships, curricula, and the impact of COVID-19, the survey is a landmark study of the current state of university French on the national level from which education professionals will certainly be able to learn valuable lessons. 

Conducted with 143 participating institutions, the survey represented a relatively equal mix of small (41%), mid-sized (25%) and large (34%) institutions offering a French minor, major, master's program or PhD. These programs demonstrate a wide span of pedagogical approches: some focus on French language courses exclusively while others prefer classes using an interdisciplinary approach such as history, culture, and civilization, or even classes focused specifically on using French in the professional world. 

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has had a negative impact on institutions that will most likely take time to recover from. Smaller departments were particularly affected: 21% of departments with less than 100 students reported job cuts during the pandemic, and out of 10 French major closures reported overall, 9 were in small departments. 45% of small departments also reported that French was more severely affected by the pandemic than other languages (as compared to 0% of larger departments). However, there is good news: small departments that offer interdisciplinary degrees in collaboration with other disciplines were 20% less likely to report that French was disproportionally affected by the pandemic. 

The survey also shines light on recommendations to more effectively support university French departments both during the pandemic and after. Notable recommendations include offering French for professional purposes courses that will permit students to make use of their French within the context of their future career; fostering active student organizations including French club and French National Honor Society; promoting professional opportunities for French majors post-graduation, including the Teaching Assistant Program in France; and seeking to design interdisciplinary and double majors that allow departments to collaborate with their Global and International Studies colleagues. 

By making use of these statistics and recommendations, French university educators as well as their K-12 counterparts nationwide can work more effectively to preserve and grow their departments--both through the pandemic, and after. 


PDF icon french_departments_survey_analysis.pdf