Beyond exams and essays: Creative methods of assessment in French Studies

In French, students on the module ‘How to Think in French’ (FR2HTF) carry out an assessment with the contemporary French publication Philosophie magazine. They are individually assigned a copy and are asked to locate a number of common expressions and figures of speech. This develops their analytical skills in a contemporary and varied context. The articles they read range from letters pages to cartoons, snippets of canonical texts to interviews with contemporary philosophers and cultural figures.

In the module ‘The First World War: Then and Now: students write a learning journal in which they are invited to reflect on how their understanding of a particular aspect or topic has evolved as a result of class discussions and of the independent research they have conducted. Students often choose to explore lesser-know aspects of the conflict, such as medical advances, the parallels between occupation (and resistance) in WW1 and in WW2, or the way the war was portrayed in children’s albums during the conflict.

As for our French language modules, in first and second year students complete a portfolio, a collection of creative and independent work showcasing their progress in French. It’s a great opportunity to receive personalised feedback on their accent and intonation (especially for shy students!), written expression, and other language skills.

For practising their French and keeping track of their learning, students can also test their grammar each week through easily-accessible online tests and in class, we like to do Kahoot quizzes. For beginners’ and intermediate levels, there are different forms of weekly formative assessments available to students: they can test their vocabulary with Quizlet via the flashcards that we have created, based on the topics discussed each week. They can also contribute to these lists by creating and editing their own flashcards.