Nobody studies French Literature in High School

I recently found out that College Board is going to cancel the AP exam in French Literature as of 2009. Also gone are Latin Literature and Italian Language & Culture. German Literature has been gone for 10 years, so that leaves us with Chinese Language & Culture, French Language, German Language, Japanese Language & Culture, Latin: Vergil, Spanish Language and Spanish Literature. Seriously, more people study Latin literature than German literature or even Italian??

I have never been a big fan of standardized testing – especially not ones that claim taking one test can possibly equal an entire university course – but the fact that they are canceling these exams means that fewer students are interested in taking language classes. I never had the opportunity to take AP French at my high school (I think we only had AP English), but I wish I could have. I felt very behind when I began university because my high school French wasn’t advanced enough.

Here’s the list of required reading for the French Literature exam. (You can also download a sample test here.)


  • Marguerite Duras: Moderato cantabile
  • Maupassant: Pierre et Jean
  • Voltaire: Candide


  • Molière: L’Ecole des femmes
  • Corneille: Le Cid
  • Aimé Césaire: Une tempête


  • Apollinaire: “Le Pont Mirabeau,” “Les Colchiques,” “Mai,” “Automne”
  • Baudelaire: “Correspondances,” “Hymne à la Beauté,” “L’Invitation au voyage,” “Chant d’automne,” “Spleen” (“Quand le ciel. . .”), “Recueillement” (From Les Fleurs du mal)
  • Du Bellay: “Heureux qui comme Ulysse a fait un beau voyage,” “Si notre vie est moins qu’une journée,”
  • Labé: Sonnets: “On voit mourir toute chose animée,” “Je vis, je meurs: je me brule et me noye,”
  • La Fontaine: “Les Animaux malades de la peste,” “Le Chêne et le Roseau,” “La Mort et le Bûcheron,” “Le Loup et l’Agneau”

I can honestly say I haven’t read and/or have forgotten many of these. But then again, the French program I did in college focused on linguistics instead of literature so I was only required to take one French literature course. I’ve always hated reading fiction in English, but when it’s in another language, it’s not so bad because at least I’m learning new words.

What I did on my 26th birthday

+-*On Sunday, I went to bed at 2 am. Got up at 5:30 am. Took Jessica to the airport in Geneva (David drove). Came home and went back to bed. Got up again at 11 am. Headed to the medieval festival in Andilly with David and Lucy. Watched 1) the French beat the English during […]

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Annecy Events this Summer

+-*May 17: Fête des Arts du Cirque, quartier du Parmelan, 2pm to midnight. May 31: Nordic Walking Découverte, le Pâquier, 10am to 5pm. June 9-14: International Animated Film Festival, everywhere. June 15: Championnat Rhône-Alpes de VTT, les Puisots on the Massif du Semnoz. June 21: Musical Festival, downtown. June 21: Saint Jean bonfire, La Visitation, […]

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+-*Here are the translations from the real French post. I can honestly say I never learned these expressions from my high school or university books/classes. I only learned them when I moved to France. Elle tire le diable par la queue. = She barely gets by (financially). C’est pas vraiment le Pérou. = It’s nothing […]

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Real French.

+-*If you only learned textbook French in school, could you understand these sentences? All of them are from one page of a thread that I found on a random forum. This is why idioms and slang are an essential part of any language course! Elle tire le diable par la queue. C’est pas vraiment le […]

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Learning languages for free with the internet.

+-*Tip of the day: Use the internet to take advantage of the public domain. Foreign Service Institute Language Courses: Designed and written by the US government but with no copyright protection. You can download the texts (PDF format) and audio files (mp3s) for free. Not all languages are available for download as the site depends […]

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Les Grandes Médiévales d’Andilly

+-*Haute-Savoiers? Haute-Savoiens? People in Haute-Savoie! (And anyone else who is interested…) The annual medieval festival in Andilly will be held May 17 & 18 and May 24 & 25 this year. Price is 17 € a day for adults; 10 € for kids. Andilly is located halfway between Annecy and Geneva. Open 10 am until […]

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Why I love Germany

+-*A German with a sense of humor does exist. I was watching Deutsche Welle last night and it was actually in German instead of English. I swear every time I turn on that channel, people are talking in English… Anyway, there was a report on Moritz Volz (he’s a Fulham footballer/soccer player) and how he […]

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Things I learned today

+-*Le premier mai is la fête du travail (labor day) and the only day in France when anyone can sell flowers legally – not just florists. You will see tons of people and places (if they’re open…) selling muguets (lily of the valley) because it’s supposed to bring good luck to whomever you give them […]

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The End Again

+-*Yesterday was my last day as an English assistant for the second year. I’m glad to no longer have to drive nearly an hour to work, but not so happy about no longer having an income. I have a feeling I won’t be able to find another teaching job until September – maybe I’ll even […]

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Why is Jennie no longer in France?

I created this blog in September 2006 when I moved to France from Michigan to teach English. Many of the earlier posts are about my personal life in France, dealing with culture shock, traveling in Europe and becoming fluent in French. In July 2011, I relocated to Australia to start my PhD in Applied Linguistics. Although I am no longer living in France, my research is on foreign language pedagogy and I teach French at a university so these themes appear most often on the blog. I also continue to post about traveling and being an American abroad.


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