Online degree programs in the French language are extremely rare, but do exist. Further, bachelor's programs in modern language with a concentration in French can be found. Online French courses in a standalone format are more commonly available. These courses may require a high school diploma or the equivalent. Some are designed for beginners, and others anticipate intermediate speakers. Students will need a CD-ROM drive, sound card, microphone, headphones, speakers and Microsoft Word. Software may include Quicktime and Qualcomm Purevoice.
Aspiring interpreters, translators, and teachers will generally need at least a bachelor's degree, although for interpreters and translators, the most important qualification is fluency in both English and French. Public school teachers are required to be licensed in all states, and specific regulations vary by state, so check before choosing an educational program.
Standalone French Courses
In general, online courses in the French language are either at the beginner or intermediate level. Separated into modems or sections, the courses consist of conversational French as used in different everyday settings, such as airports, hotels and restaurants. Students are also exposed to various cultural elements of the French and the French language, including literature, history and social practices. The only prerequisite for most online French language courses is a high school diploma or general education diploma (GED). With teacher recommendations, qualified high school students may be admitted to some college courses.
Program Information and Requirements
Different schools conduct their online courses in different manners. In some cases, French language courses can last six weeks and consist of a set number of modules. Other schools allow students up to a year to complete the course requirements at their own pace. Courses are delivered entirely online, therefore there are no in-person work requirements. Some courses and exercises may be accessed by way of CD-ROM.
To get started in taking online French language courses, technical requirements include a computer with Internet access. An appropriate browser and operating system, such as Mac OS 8.1 or better or Windows NT or better are recommended. The computer must support Microsoft Word and come equipped with a CD-ROM drive, sound card, microphone, headphones and speakers. The software programs Quicktime and Qualcomm Purevoice are often required.
Regardless of the level of French language taken, these courses are meant to teach students how to comfortably communicate in a number of settings. To access course materials, students typically go to the course Web page where there is a discussion room for students to interact with each other and the instructor.
As a fundamental French course, the content introduces students to the basics of French vocabulary and grammar. Students are also exposed to various aspects of French culture.
In this course, students build on the skills developed in beginner French classes, such as reading and writing the language. Everyday language applications, including idioms are explored. Some literary works written in French may be examined as well.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), job opportunities for interpreters and translators will increase by 29% from 2014 to 2024 (much faster than the average for all occupations), while over the same period, employment for middle and secondary school teachers, including French language teachers, will increase by 6%, or about as fast as average. (www.bls.gov).
A May 2015 report from BLS stated that, in general, translators and interpreters earned a median salary of $44,190, but those with expertise in a specific language can earn more. In November 2016, PayScale.com reported the annual median pay of high school French teachers to be $48,803, while middle school French teachers earned $47,358. Those completing French language classes online may also seek employment in international sales and marketing, government, healthcare or consulting.
Continuing Education Information
If after completing online French language courses graduates opt to become translators or interpreters, the American Translators Association (ATA) offers voluntary certification to individuals who qualify with a certain combination of education and experience requirements. In some cases, a college degree is not necessary. Membership in the ATA also affords individuals access to training courses, continuing education and personal development courses, conferences, seminars, career information and publications.
Individuals who decide to become French teachers in the public school system are required to complete teacher training and pass a competency examination. Although specifics may vary from state to state, all states require teachers to be certified and licensed. Continuing education credits are often required for license renewal.
Standalone french courses are more widely available online than degree programs in the area, and they are based on skill level and include information about French culture. Graduates may use the courses for development as teachers or translators.