French Language

Welcoming beginner, intermediate, and advanced students of French

“In my university, we focus more on literature, so the Summer School was an occasion to learn more about political and sociological issues in France and the European Union while taking French language courses.”  - Yingtong, China 

Students who choose to take French summer courses in the Summer School's University Programme have the unique advantage of learning at one of France’s most prestigious universities while being immersed in the daily routines of life in Paris.

French Language Track Overview

Students of the French language track take classes at one of six levels, which covers learning French for beginners to advanced students.  A student's current level of French is determined by an initial placement test during the application process and a definitive placement test held on the first day. In assessing a student’s level, Sciences Po uses the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which places full beginners at level A1 and advanced students at level C2.  Download an explanation of the CEFR levels (in English and French, PDF, 140Ko).

A student’s course schedule is determined by his or her knowledge of French; students take the level of French they wish to reach at the end of the session. For example, a complete beginner should take Level A1, while a student with a B1 level of French will take Level B2 at the Summer School.  Learn more about how to demonstrate proficiency at a level of French on the Eligibility page.

French Language Levels

The coursework offered in the French language track is determined by a student's language level. The French language track includes the following courses:

  • French language classes account for the majority of class time (at least 48 contact hours) at every level, which allows students to make maximum progress during their time at the Summer School.
  • At all levels, students take oral and written expression workshops with content specially adapted to students' levels, including phoentics, written methodology, and debate.
  • The maximum class size is approximately 15 students. The total number of students in a French language class may change in light of the results of the placement test on the first day of the programme.

2018 Academic Programme

Beginner Levels (A1, A2)

Level A1 (only offered during the July session)

  • Summary: At the A1 level, students focus their language learning on a variety of different themes. These complete beginners start their study with topics necessary for successful daily interactions. As the course progresses, they delve into increasingly complex themes dealing with French culture.
  • Syllabus: Download the A1 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 435 Ko).

Level A2

  • Summary: This course, meant for students who have mastered the basics of the French language, aims to help students improve their oral and written expression. At the conclusion of the session, students will be able to take part in a verbal exchange or produce a short written text. In terms of grammar, students will master the present, past, and future tense. Vocabulary knowledge is also built and centered around certain key points of French culture.
  • Syllabus: Download the A2 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 327 Ko).

Intermediate Levels (B1, B2)

Level B1

  • Summary: At the B1 level, students progress towards an intermediate knowledge of French by strengthening grammar and vocabulary in order to develop their argumentation skills. Through the study of current political and social events as depicted in the media, songs and films, students learn to describe more complex situations and express their own opinions.
  • Syllabus: Download the B1 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 430 Ko).

Level B2

  • Summary: At the B2 level, students focus on contemporary issues, such as French politics and the European Union. They reinforce their written and oral language skills through the study of various materials, including political campaign posters, visits to museums, political cartoons and authentic texts, such as French newspapers and academic articles.
  • Syllabus: Download the B2 French language class July 2017 syllabus (PDF, 432 Ko).

Advanced Levels (C1, C2)

Level C1

  • Summary: C1 level classes are intended for students with a fluent level of French. The class aims to improve both oral and written  expression through the study of  French  and  European  culture,  civilization  and  history. Coursework is based on texts such as newspapers and academic articles, as well as on political cartoons and radio programmes.
  • Syllabus: Download the C1 French language class June 2017 syllabus (PDF, 322 Ko).

Level C2 (only offered during the July session)

  • Summary: Intended for advanced students, these courses built on written and oral language skills - with a special focus on precision, idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms - in order to reach the C2 level. Students were also guided through the specific rules and culture of the French academic system, especially those of Sciences Po.
  • Syllabus: Download the C2 French language class July 2017 syllabus (PDF, 473 Ko).


In partnership with the Alliance Française Paris Ile-de-France, Sciences Po offers University Programme students the option to take the tests for the French Ministry of Education’s official Diplôme d'études en langue française (DELF – levels up to B2) or Diplôme approfondi de langue française (DALF – levels C1 and C2). Please note that these exams are only offered during the July session.  Learn more.