Home : Academics : French



Jean Fallon
Professor of French
(540) 362-6267

Annette Sampon-Nicolas
Professor of French
(540) 362-6369

Edwina Spodark
Professor of French
P.O. Box 9507

Hollns University
Roanoke, VA 24020
(540) 362-6310

French Department on Facebook



Annette Sampon-Nicolas

In April 2010, Hollins University Professor of French Annette Sampon-Nicolas received the medal of distinction from the French government and became Chevalier de l'Ordre des Palmes Académiques, Knight of the Order of Academic Palms for her exceptional service in French education and culture. This order was founded by Napoleon in 1808. The medal is composed of a purple silk ribbon to which is attached a silver laurel, a symbol of the Napoleonic order, and she wears it on her academic gown.

Photo: Roland Celette, French cultural attaché, Annette Sampon-Nicolas, Hollins University President Nancy Gray

Innovative, imaginative teaching is the hallmark of the department.

The French major at Hollins incorporates the rich cultural past of France and the French-speaking world, while bringing to light the tremendously dynamic present of all French-speaking peoples and cultures of the 21st century. By focusing on French language and cultural life, both historical and contemporary, on the global world, using literature, nonfiction, film, and a wide variety of multimedia strategies, our students are prepared to engage in the world as global citizens.

The French major at Hollins strives to give students a strong foundation in all aspects of French language and culture. Students graduating with a major in French from Hollins will be able to express themselves articulately in oral and written French, understand and appreciate cultures and values of the French-speaking world, and exhibit strong analytical skills.

Hollins French majors are well prepared for careers in fields such as education, business, marketing, government, or tourism. Students will also have the solid academic background necessary for graduate school in French and international business, among other fields. An opportunity for internships reinforces the experiential side of the French major. A French major can complete her degree requirements by taking courses that focus on language and literature, or on business, international relations, and current events. Another track of study leads to certification to teach French at the secondary school level.

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Special program at the Sorbonne

Advanced French students in Paris can take advantage of a special program offered through the Sorbonne. Written and corrected by the faculty at the Sorbonne in Paris, the Sorbonne exams set a worldwide standard of proficiency and are one of the best ways to demonstrate competency to prospective employers.


French activities beyond the classroom

Hollins offers abundant opportunities for students to practice their craft and broaden their experience. Here are a few:

La Maison française

La Maison française is devoted to increasing the awareness and participation of all Hollins students in activities pertaining to the study of the francophone world. Intended especially for practice in speaking French, the house serves as a center where students speak the language daily and share common interests. La Maison française houses seven residents and the French language assistant. Each resident is required to sign a pledge at the beginning of the academic year vowing to speak only French while in common areas of the house.
Through the Fulbright program, a native French speaker comes every year to Hollins to teach and live in la Maison française. The French assistant offers conversation groups for elementary and intermediate level classes, as well as writing workshops. This graduate student, an invaluable resource, facilitates communication in French and assists students in learning French and cultural values. The residents work closely with the members of French Club to offer programs on various cultural aspects of the French-speaking world. Students do not have to be in a French class at Hollins in order to participate in the activities of the French House.

Le Cercle français

An active group on campus, le Cercle français is a dynamic club that plans and hosts numerous activities and events, such as film festivals, crêpe parties, photo contests, and various fundraisers throughout the academic year. Past activities have included Christmas services in French for the campus, a visit of a French theatre troupe, and educational programs about France and the francophone world. Each week all francophiles wishing to practice French are invited to the French Table, an informal weekly gathering in the dining hall. Moreover, le Cercle français and la Maison française, in conjunction with the French department, celebrate National Francophone Week each year with a variety of activities including creative French poetry celebrations, photo contests, special speakers and films, and French foods.

Pi Delta Phi

Pi Delta Phi is the French National Honor Society for undergraduate and graduate students in the United States. The oldest academic honor society for a modern foreign language in the U.S., Pi Delta Phi was founded as a departmental honor society at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1906. There are currently more than 350 chapters of the society in the United States. The purpose of the society is to recognize outstanding scholarship in the French language and its literatures, to increase the knowledge and appreciation of Americans for the cultural contributions of the French-speaking world, and to stimulate and to encourage French and francophone cultural activities.

Hollins Abroad-Paris

French majors and minors spend a semester or a year in our Paris program, which was started in 1955. Check out our Hollins Abroad-Paris page on Facebook.