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Continuing Studies

French for Reading and Translation

continuingstudies.wisc.edu/9062-C-LAAS See upcoming dates


We cover essential grammar and vocabulary that are especially useful for students preparing for the French graduate-level reading knowledge exam. Upon completion, you'll be able to translate French readings in many fields of study. Textbook required, available from various vendors.

While no prior knowledge of the language is required, familiarity with common grammar terminology in English is highly recommended. Basic to high-intermediate French speakers can use the course to review essential grammar, build vocabulary and increase accuracy in translation. The higher level French you have, the more you will gain from this course.

This course is open to all. You do not have to be a UW–Madison student to register. The graduate student fee is applicable to graduate students from any institution.

Note: You will not be able to view the course on your Canvas Dashboard or access the materials until the course start date.


How the course works

There are no video lectures or synchronous class meetings; the course material is text-based. On Wednesdays, new units will be posted. Most units are divided into two main parts: the study assignment (textbook) and the written assignment (selected translation practice). Several units also have quizzes and/or practice exercises for reinforcement. You will work at your own pace on the week's textbook assignments, quizzes and translations. These will be due on Monday of the following week. Your instructor will give you feedback before the new unit(s) are posted the following Wednesday.

Course Overview

This course will give you systematic approaches to analyzing French text and the tools with which you can expand your understanding. Using texts from various disciplines in the social sciences and humanities, you learn the fundamentals of French grammar, how to use a dictionary and how to decipher the meaning of a text. You will learn how knowing certain grammar points, knowing how sentence structures work and knowing essential vocabulary words will give you the keys to understanding French.

Using Celia Brickman's A Short Course in Reading French, the course will introduce scholars with no background in French to important grammatical concepts, reading strategies and important vocabulary for scholarly reading.

With the aim of preserving the essence and integrity of the original text, you will become proficient at understanding, critically analyzing and accurately translating from French to English.

No prior knowledge of French is required.

Course objectives

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  • Read and understand, with the help of a dictionary, scholarly texts pertinent to their field of research
  • Identify fundamental French grammatical structures and syntax
  • Recognize essential French vocabulary words
  • Increase confidence in translation abilities

Required reading

  • Brickman, Celia. A Short Course in Reading French, 2012
  • French/English dictionary

Recommended text and study aids

  • Morton, Jacqueline. English Grammar for Students of French. Olivia and Hill, 2002
  • A notebook for vocabulary lists
  • Flashcards

Is this course right for you?

If you answer "yes" to the following questions, you are a good candidate for our online French for Reading Knowledge course:

  • I am a skilled reader who is at ease with written instructions and lessons
  • I am a self-directed learner, with the initiative to visit a course site regularly
  • I am comfortable participating in a course in writing
  • I can continue learning independently while waiting for feedback on assignments
  • I am organized and able to meet deadlines
  • I enjoy working on a computer
  • I have 5 to 12 hours weekly that I can devote to this online course

If these statements do not accurately describe you, please consider taking a face-to-face class.

Earn Continuing Education Hours

By participating in this class you will earn:

Instructional Hours 30
University of Wisconsin Continuing Education Units 3

Explanation of Continuing Education Hours

Upcoming dates

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Program Questions?

Contact Chris Moore at christopher.moore@wisc.edu or 608-262-7389

Registration Questions?

Email registrations@pyle.wisc.edu or call 608-262-2451.

Continuing Studies FAQs

Meet your instructors

Kelsey Roy

(PhD, UW-Madison) has been teaching college-level French since 2008, after studying it at UW-Madison. She also used to work at the UW French House (a francophone residence hall and cultural center), where she was the Resident Assistant and (later) the Director. She believes that learning languages is one of the best ways to build a sense of community. As a teacher, she is passionate about offering personalized instruction and helping students discover new interests.

Sage Goellner

Sage Goellner (PhD, UW-Madison) is an associate professor of French and Continuing Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. 

Fiona Rowe-Keefe

(MA, UW-Milwaukee) has taught French to all levels of learners since 2007. She currently teaches high school French, tutors at the Alliance Française de Milwaukee and teaches online adult learners. She has also taught Spanish and ESL. She enjoys teaching adults because of their dedication to learning and varied experiences.

What Attendees Are Saying

"Great course, excellent instruction. Loved the materials."
Adrienne Bosworth, PhD Candidate
"The instructor went above and beyond. She was always super helpful and  gave very prompt responses to questions."
Karina Duncker-Hoffmann, College Instructor
"This course was extremely thorough and very well organized. I am very pleased with how much I was able to learn in such a short amount of time."
Jessica Staedter, Graduate Student
"This online course has been fantastic and I've learned more [...] than I did taking four semesters of a traditional language course. Thank you."
Lecturer, UW–Whitewater
"I just got word that I passed my department's French exam! This course was really helpful and I will be recommending it to my colleagues."
Graduate student, UC-Berkeley
"The Instructor was great, provided very helpful material, and encouraged students to reach out with any questions they might have."
Graduate student, Columbia University
"I took your class last summer, and have taken up practicing again this summer with La Rochefoucauld. I started at the beginning of June and am already speeding up! I've even started reading a collection of letters to Rousseau about Julie, and I'm overjoyed to be able to conduct my research by looking at unmediated primary sources. I couldn't have done it without you — thanks so much!"
Visiting instructor of political theory
"...not only has this French course been a kind of mental grace through these last crazy months, I feel enormous amounts of gratitude for you grace and flexibility to let me (and others) work through this at a slightly different pace. While, yes, I took this course to meet a requirement, as an avid reader of theory, the deeper we got into each chapter of translations, the more delighted I became by the texts I got to see in their original language. Actually has a hard time choosing what to translate for the Final Assignment because I'm so fond of so many of the great minds that authored the passages!"
FRT participant, summer 2020