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Voulez vous parler avec moi?

By Hiram Crespo - Staff Writer
On December 6, 2012



The French Studies major offered at NEIU is a truly interdisciplinary major in the College of Arts and Sciences that allows students to take up to three courses in another discipline with prior approval.  Linguistics, French Revolution and European History are some courses that may be allowed as part of the French Studies program.  Dr. Mary McGoey, who is an NEIU French instructor, believes that an interdisciplinary degree in French Studies is apt to be more attractive to future employers than a traditional French degree emphasizing literary studies only.

In addition to a major, a French minor is offered by NEIU which used to require completion of 21 credits, but is now being offered as an 18-credit minor, four courses of which must be taken at levels 200 or above.  French is a good minor choice for students of music, history, art history, and for those who wish to work for the airlines or in hospitality.  French Instructor Pamela Czech points out that graduate students going for a Masters in History are oftentimes required to read in at least one language other than English.  One student profited from a French minor by opting to pursue a PHD in French Philosophy.

Another common career path is the French Studies K-12 major which prepares students for teacher certification.  Teacher candidates must pass an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Test, which is required as part of the French Studies major as well as by the state.

The French language is part of our university's history, having been taught at NEIU from the moment it first became a university.  It's not just the language of France and parts of Canada.  Dozens of African countries and Caribbean and Polynesian islands speak French, and the music, gastronomy and culture of the Francophonie is much more diverse and interesting than most people realize, encompassing North African reggae and Caribbean zouk among others.  High-end fashion and cuisine have also been greatly influenced by the French, and the English language has many French-derived words.

Students who have studied French in high school can earn up to nine free back credits by taking the placement test offered online at and then successfully completing the course they are placed into at NEIU.  Students who are unsure of their level can also take the placement test without charge.

Studying abroad is encouraged and provides additional credit towards the major.  A faculty-led study tour in Quebec is currently being planned for the summer of 2013.  Another non-traditional way to earn credits is via online courses, which are available every semester and every summer and at all levels.  There is also a French Club, which can be contacted at and which meets every other Tuesday at 3 p.m. in the Language Learning Lab, located on the fourth floor of the library (LIB-449).  Their webpage is

Full-time faculty members are Dr. Mary Ellen McGoey and Professor Pamela Czech. Both have received the NEIU Faculty Excellence Award for teaching.  Classes tend to be small, which is ideal for foreign language learning.  The wide variety of courses being offered includes French Conversation and Grammar through Film, Regions of France, French and Francophone Cultures, Provencal Civilization, Applied French Linguistics, Art and History of Paris, Business French, French Theater Workshop, and French literature.

French Club is planning a Mardi Gras celebration next semester with mask-making and a crepe sale.

Students who want more information regarding the French Studies major may contact Dr. Mary McGoey, Faculty Advisor at or 773-442-4754.

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