French Major

Being monolingual offers no more advantage today than it did in twelfth- and thirteenth- century England, where French was both a written and spoken vernacular. French was already an international language in the Middle Ages, so it is not surprising to hear French in more than fifty countries on five continents today.

Beginning students of French at Drury gain communicative competence through their study of the French language and French and Francophone culture. French majors and minors at Drury engage even more deeply with the culture, literature, and history of the more than 200 million people who make up the French-speaking world. The French minor and major curricula at Drury offer students the opportunity to attain a higher level of mastery of the French language in preparation for participation in today’s multilingual world.

The foreign language curriculum is designed to introduce all Drury students to selected languages of the world and their cultural and literary traditions. Language majors are prepared for graduate studies and also for careers in a variety of fields including teaching, international business and other professional disciplines. French majors and minors are strongly urged to earn some of the required credits through an approved program in a French-speaking country.


How Long Does it Take to Become Fluent?

This is a very tough question to answer for four reasons. A great deal varies from student to student depending on:

  1. How much they take responsibility for their own learning
  2. How much experience they have with their own native language
  3. How much basic aptitude they bring to the enterprise
  4. When they first began the study of foreign language

In general, the U.S. Department of State sets out these guidelines for the languages that Drury offers:

Spanish: 600 class hours
French:  600 class hours

The differences here arise from the foreign language’s differences from English.

These numbers are why we highly recommend an immersion study abroad language experience to achieve fluency. One foreign language course per semester for four years will give students 360- 390 hours. This will give students skill, but fall short of fluency.

In general, we say three years (with a course every semester) plus an intensive immersion experience will produce a fluent speaker.

Other practice, however, can also be achieved through students’ own initiative: speaking with international students, etc.

Why Learn a Foreign Language?

  1. To keep America strong
    “Language is a tool for economic competitiveness and national security. President George W. Bush pictured the American language deficit as a security issue. ‘This issue deals with the defense of the country, the diplomacy of the country, the intelligence to defend our country and the education of our people,’ he told a collection of university presidents in 2006.”~ Lewis Beale, “U.S. Students Hurting in Foreign Language.” 17 May 2010.

  2. To increase global understanding
    “Effective communication and successful negotiations with a foreign partner–whether with a partner in peacekeeping, a strategic economic partner, a political adversary, or a non-English speaking contact in a critical law enforcement action–requires strong comprehension of the underlying cultural values and belief structures that are part of the life experience of the foreign partner.” ~ Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education

  3. To improve employment potential
    “[T]he English language alone is probably sufficient if all we need to do is buy our products abroad, if we need to purchase foreign goods and services. But when it comes to selling a product abroad, you have to understand the psychology and the belief structure of your client. If you are selling America abroad and telling America’s story abroad […] then you have to understand the value systems of that foreign public that you are speaking to.”~ Dr. Dan Davidson, President of the American Councils on International Education

  4. To increase native language ability
    “Those who know nothing of foreign languages, knows nothing of their own.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

  5. To sharpen cognitive and life skills
    “We have strong evidence today that studying a foreign language has a ripple effect, helping to improve student performance in other subjects.” ~ Richard Riley, U.S. Secretary of Education

  6. To improve chances of entry into graduate school
    “For those planning to continue on to graduate study in most any field, knowledge of a second and sometimes even a third language is often a prerequisite for admission. From mathematics to anthropology, from biology to art history, you will find that many if not most graduate programs require some kind of foreign language knowledge of their applicants. In some programs, graduate students are required to gain a reading knowledge of other languages as a degree requirement, especially in doctoral programs.” ~

What University Foreign Language Students Need to Know

  1. Spend the time
    The most important factor is how much time you work with the language. Despite the promises of computer-based systems, there is no magic pill or “quick fix” to language learning. The more time you spend with the language, the faster you will learn. This means listening, reading, writing, speaking, and studying words and phrases. This also means not just attending class, but getting your full money’s worth by really listening, speaking up, asking questions and using the language.
  2. Repetition is your friend
    Practice as much as possible. Meet international students and talk to them (trade your language practice for English practice!). Find the foreign-language radio or television stations and listen to them. Rent foreign films and watch them in the foreign language. Listen to music wherever you are on your MP3 player. Read what you are listening to. Listen to and read things that you like, things that you can mostly understand, or even partly understand. If you keep listening and reading you will get used to the language.
  3. Take responsibility for your own learning
    If you do not want to learn the language, you won’t. If you do want to learn the language, take control. Choose content of interest, that you want to listen to and read. Do you like sports? Find articles on line about your favorite sport in your target language and read them. Seek out the words and phrases that you need to understand your listening and reading. Do not wait for someone else to show you the language, nor to tell you what to do. Discover the language by yourself, like a child growing up. Talk when you feel like it. Write when you feel like it. A teacher cannot teach you to become fluent, but you can learn to become fluent if you want to.
  4. Study abroad
    True linguistic or cultural literacy and fluency is rarely achieved without an immersion experience in a study abroad context. Indeed, time spent abroad with an active language-learning component is one of the most potent variables predicting language proficiency.
  5. Relax and enjoy yourself
    Do not worry about what you cannot remember, or cannot yet understand, or cannot yet say. It does not matter. You are learning and improving. The language will gradually become clearer in your brain, but this will happen on a schedule that you cannot control. So sit back and enjoy. Just make sure you spend enough time with the language. That is the greatest guarantee of success.

What Can I Do with My Foreign Language Degree?

Generally, our most successful graduates are those who pair their foreign language degree with another degree that will point them toward a professional field (immediate employment or entry into graduate school).

The following list gives some examples from recent Drury graduates who paired their language with another major (or minor) and then went on to professional success. This list is not exhaustive, it is intended to give a few examples of the types of things graduates have done in the past. More details examples or ideas are certainly available.

Degree Profession/Fields
Foreign Language + Criminology FBI, Homeland Security
Foreign Language + Psychology Attorney, Social Services, NGO (charity)
Foreign Language + Business NGOs, International Sales Accounting at Multi-National firms Banking, International Stock Trading Information Technology
Foreign Language + Pre-Health Physician, Pharmacist, Nurse, Occupational Therapist
Foreign Language + Political Science International Relations, Federal Government, Attorney
Foreign Language + Education University Professor, University Administration, Secondary Education, Foreign Education (teaching abroad)
Foreign Language + Communications Advertising, Journalist
Foreign Language + Architecture Peace Corps, NGO work

Pi Delta Phi: National French Honor Society


Pi Delta Phi was founded as a departmental honor society at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1906. After twenty years as a local chapter, Pi Delta Phi declared itself the National French Honor Society and chartered the Beta Chapter at the University of Southern California in 1925.

The Society expanded slowly during the next fifteen years. Since the end of World War II, Pi Delta Phi has enjoyed phenomenal growth. At the present time, it numbers more than 350 chapters established at representative public and private colleges and universities in almost every state, as well as chapters in Paris and Aix-en-Provence.

The Society was admitted to membership in the Association of College Honor Societies in 1967. The official publication of Pi Delta Phi is the Newsletter.


The purpose of this Society shall be 1) to recognize outstanding scholarship in the French language and its literature; 2) to increase the knowledge and appreciation of Americans for the cultural contributions of the French-speaking world; 3) to stimulate and encourage French and francophone cultural activities.


There are two categories of membership: regular and honorary.

Regular members include graduate and undergraduate students who shall be nominated in recognition of their academic achievement in at least one semester or quarter of upper division French (300 level), with a minimum GPA 3.00 in French. Graduate students who are candidates for an advanced degree in French are eligible for regular membership. Members in good standing are eligible for scholarships through the national organization. Contact Dr. Blunk for more information about he scholarships.

Honorary members include: the French faculty of the sponsoring institution; members of the faculty at large, diplomats and community leaders who have shown a strong support of French cultures.

National dues for regular members are $40.00. Each member receives the official pin, a certificate, a graduation chord, and a card indicating life membership in the organization.

DU Chapter

The chapter of Pi Delta Phi at Drury University is called Delta Theta. This chapter has been at Drury since 1965. The membership rules to apply are the same as the national society. For further information visit the National French Honor Society website.

All prerequisites must be completed prior to enrollment in the following courses. The French major requires 24 credit hours of coursework. Note: Completion of 101 or 102 (or equivalent) or transfer credit are prerequisites for enrollment in courses at the 200 level.