French language and cultures

According to the International Organization of La Francophonie, 274 million people speak French around the world, notably in Europe, northern, western, and central parts of Africa, Quebec, and various Pacific and Atlantic islands. French is also one of the two official languages of the U.N.O. and one of three languages of the European and African Unions. Globally, France plays a significant role at cultural, economic, and political levels, spreading its influence through its numerous embassies, French Alliances, Chambers of Commerce, and international companies. Cultural aspects of “Francophonie” take various forms, depending on where they emerge on the globe. However diverse, Cajun, Acadian, Canadian, Caribbean, Polynesian, and/or French cultures share common values, beliefs, and customs due to the rich historical past they have in common. French civilization and language studies take into consideration the dialectal and cultural diversity of these multiple inheritances through references to anthropology, language, literature, history, and linguistics.

The Language Acquisition Resource Center at SDSU offers both classes and resources for French civilization and the study of French language:

  • The French for Proficiency course is designed to address the needs of government personal who target specific levels of linguistic and socio-cultural competencies, based on the ACTFL standards, as evaluated by both the OPI and DLPT rating protocols.
  • The interactive French civilization course for advanced learners (with adaptation to address the needs of English speakers) offers a complete panorama of the long process which led to the foundation of a French core culture, notably through history. It addresses the needs of both Francophone and non-francophone speakers.

For more information, please read below.

Delacroix, Eugène. La liberté guidant le peuple. 1830.



The French for Proficiency course addresses the needs of different types of students, from beginners to more advanced levels, depending on learning needs and professional or academic goals targeted. For this reason, it is a highly customizable course, although it follows the general guidelines of the communicative and functional approaches. It is designed to give students the ability to communicate and take action autonomously in a Francophone environment. Students learn in a progressive manner how to perform specific functional and socio-cultural tasks using the target language. They are taught to communicate with native speakers and to learn about specific French cultures and customs.

Main Features

  • This course is taught in French to simulate the conditions to which students may be exposed in Francophone contexts and to allow them to practice in a near-native environment;
  • Teachers are experienced instructors, well-versed in techniques helping students to understand and to develop self-directed learning strategies;
  • Learning resources are designed at LARC and are offered in different formats, generally accessible online. They are constructed from authentic resources to enhance listening and reading comprehension skills and to facilitate students’ cultural and linguistic awareness. Documents types vary: videos, newspaper articles, songs, news reports, movie samples, literature abstracts, radio and TV broadcasts, etc. The technological approaches used to process content include, but are not limited to: Smart Board®, Microsoft Office Suite®, YouTube videos, Adobe Acrobat, and Internet browsers;
  • The socio-cultural aspects are generally not separated from French language studies, but some topics are debriefed during special sessions;
  • Preparation for the OPI and the DLPT tests with mock examinations.

Cours de civilisation interactif pour le niveau avancé / Interactive French civilization course for advanced learners, with adaptation for English speakers

Interactive presentation


  • The Interactive French Civilization course is a complete and organized documentary source dealing with the evolution of France, and it provides a comprehensive overview of the major sociological, political, and artistic events since the beginning of its history. It has been created with both the teacher and the student in mind, and it presents each with various types of materials they can explore in different ways. The core content of the course is delivered through 21 textbook chapters containing 500 illustrations, 950 verified references, and 530 hyperlinks. Its purpose is to methodically explore and define what may be the distinctive features of the French culture. It provides comprehensive explanations about its evolution over the centuries through a rich source of references that can be used for both teaching and research. There are two versions of the textbook: a traditional, printed format, and a flipbook version. More than 1000 links are embedded within the illustrations and the references to aid teachers in achieving the pedagogical goals.
  • In addition to this core material, a simplified interactive html5 version of the textbook, created with Articulate Storyline®, allows for quick browsing of the course content. It has been designed using the principles of student-centered learning and it taps into learners’ natural inclination to explore, discover, and interpret information through interaction. With this in mind, learners are provided with ample access to various multimedia links and resources.
  • Finally, full movies and selected movie samples have been collected and organized so that they can easily be embedded within the learning management systems such as BlackBoard® or Moodle®. Their purpose is to visually illustrate the cultural evolution of the inhabitants of France, and to inspire learners to further their study of the French culture and language.

Main Features

  • Printed format & digital textbook (flipbook) + simplified interactive version (html);
  • + 900 verified references and +500 hyperlinks
  • Video library with selected movies and movie samples
  • English version currently developed to reach French 101 learners;
  • Designed for flipped classroom environments & Lesson Plan Generator (LPG) compatible;
  • Extra modules to be developed by HS / MS collaborators;
  • Free access to resources granted under certain conditions.


Interactive French civilization textbook

The interactive French civilization textbook is a precious tool for readers who wants to have a global, yet consistent, panorama of the French civilization process over centuries. It has been specifically designed for a flipped classroom learning environment by offering a convenient division of the information it contains, which facilitates their labeling and the students’ tasks allocation. It also finds an appropriate balance regarding the amount of information it provides the learners with, which is a sensitive issue when it comes to preserve the cause and effect link that attaches historical events the one to another. It also includes more than 500 illustrations, a rich list of references (900+), numerous Internet links (500+) and a selected list of movies and movie samples. The textbook come in a printed format and an online flipbook version.

The organization of the chapters is the following:

  • Chapitre 0 - Visages de la France
  • Chapitre 1 - La France avant la France
  • Chapitre 2 - L'Antiquité en Gaule
  • Chapitre 3 - Naissance de la France
  • Chapitre 4 - Vers l'unité du royaume de France
  • Chapitre 5 - Vers la Renaissance
  • Chapitre 6 - La Renaissance des guerres
  • Chapitre 7 - La marche vers l'absolutisme
  • Chapitre 8 - Louis XIV, monarque absolu de droit divin (Online sample chapter - Click on the corner to flip the page)
  • Chapitre 9 - La monarchie décriée
  • Chapitre 10 - Le crépuscule des rois
  • Chapitre 11 - La République naît dans le sang
  • Chapitre 12 - Le 1er Empire
  • Chapitre 13 - De la Restauration au 2nd empire
  • Chapitre 14 - La République s'installe
  • Chapitre 15 - La Grande Guerre
  • Chapitre 16 - L'entre-deux-guerres
  • Chapitre 17 - La 2nde guerre mondiale
  • Chapitre 18 - L'après-guerre : la IVe République
  • Chapitre 19 - Entrée dans la modernité : la Ve République
  • Chapitre 20 - L'exception socio-culturelle française

Only the French version is currently available.

Online Materials

Online interactive French civilization course

French interactive coverWithin the framework of the French civilization flipped classroom, a set of tools has been designed by LARC to facilitate students’ learning and research tasks. Among these, a full online course including a simplified version of the textbook chapters presents the main civilizational aspects discussed throughout the in-class sessions. It is currently hosted on the Moodle® LARC website both in the PowerPoint and the Articulate Storyline format, which can be read from any device equipped with an Internet browser. It can also be embedded within BlackBoard ®.

Sample Lesson

For questions and more information contact: