Tulane in Toulouse, France

Language, Community, & Social Change in France: A Study Abroad Program for Second-semester Freshmen & Sophomores

A collaboration between Tulane University and the SIT Study Abroad, a program of World Learning.

Tulane University logo

Undergraduate students may fulfill up to three graduation requirements (language, 1st-tier public service, distribution) while confronting the complexity of the contemporary Francophone world. Participants will improve French language proficiency, as the program gives students the possibility to accelerate through basic language study, allowing them to advance to major and minor courses more rapidly.

Target Audience: second semester freshman and sophomore year students.

Fall Application Deadline

November 1, 2010

Tentative Program Dates: Fall 2010

Program Start Date: January 25, 2011
Program End Date: May 9, 2011

About the Program

This is a language-intensive program designed for students with introductory to intermediate-level language training.  Through the SIT language acquisition framework and cultural engagement, student explore ethnic, religious, urban and regional diversity within contemporary France as well as its complex post-colonial relationships with the Francophone world.

Students who attend this study abroad program will explore the theme of cultural identity in France today taking into consideration contemporary cultural, political and economic ties with its ex-colonies.  Scholars, cultural-political and ethnic community leaders, non-profit organizations, performance artists, and local experts teach students through lectures and presentations while concurrently guiding them in their fieldwork.

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The France program has four main components:

  1. Orientation in Toulouse to get familiar with program components and objectives, logistical issues, health and safety issues;
  2. Homestay in Toulouse and simultaneous courses at L'Institut Catholique de Toulouse (ICT);
  3. Educational excursions designed to expose students to different regions and cultures within France;
  4. Community Service Project.

Each program component introduces students to different perspectives on cultural diversity and assimilation across a broad spectrum of communities.

Language placement in one of five levels at L' Institut Catholique de Toulouse is coupled with field-based community service assignments that offer language exposure necessary to improve acquisition enough to follow seminars conducted entirely in French.  SIT promotes a politics of rigor and immersion in their language acquisition methodology that is supported by experienced native speaking teachers of foreign language using oral proficiency-based methods.

Students participate in full immersion language instruction, interdisciplinary seminars, and homestays in French communities, while interacting with scholars, community members, local organizers, arts groups, and educational excursion sites. Thus students gain an understanding of issues surrounding France's centralist tradition and complexity of diversity internal to the nation and within the European Union at large. Furthermore, they will gain insight into the lasting impact of France’s "civilizing mission" in its ex-colonies.

Based in Toulouse, a vibrant urban center, students conduct community service projects which give them unique opportunities to work with local organizations.

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Living in Toulouse

Students' base during the program is Toulouse, France's fourth-largest city and home to a world-class arts and cultural scene.  During their 12-week homestay in Toulouse, students attend lectures at ICT or at non-profit organizations on a variety of subjects related to social change in France, such as French colonization and subsequent role in post-colonization, urban immigrant culture, and French economic policy. Students also take part in activities designed to introduce the rich culture of the city, such as productions by the Toulouse National Theatre, meetings with poetry slam workshop participants, and a Sufi Chorale performance.

The primary reason that Toulouse is important strategically to Tulane/SIT is that people speak much less English than in Paris, which makes it an ideal setting for the language immersion experience. Secondly, Toulouse is a hub for immigrants from North Africa and other former French colonies and is ideal for introducing students to the diverse immigrant experience in France.

Toulouse is the second largest urban university area in France, next to Paris, but the city center is quite small and therefore very accessible and safe. The student population fuels a lively arts and cultural scene, sponsoring great events and places to hang out and meet other students.

Also noteworthy, Toulouse is one and a half hours from gorgeous wilderness and water--the Pyrenées mountains and the Mediterranean Sea.

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Why France?

France, with borders along eight European countries, colonial ties to Louisiana, West Africa, and other territories in North and South America, is a country influenced by myriad cultures.  As one of Western Europe's leading asylum destinations, France is also home to a growing non-Christian immigrant population, with a significant percentage of immigrants coming from Muslim countries.

Within this diverse and evolving environment, students explore the impact of immigration on French politics, economics, and the arts, gaining exposure to the ways in which individuals and communities maintain both separate cultural identities while still maintaining a strong sense of French nationality. Students explore the dynamics of cultural assimilation, France's state-level approaches as well as the impact of contemporary global forces on its national identity.

The Academic Program

Objective: to cover the equivalent of two semesters of French (i.e. 1020-2030, to be determined by Tulane French Dept.); to bridge the gap between classroom learning and everyday interactions; to acquire the necessary expertise in French contemporary social questions through lectures and personal field experience to better understand and respond to global issues and challenges.
Learning Outcomes:  upon completion of this program, students will:

  • Have greatly improved their oral and written proficiency in French as demonstrated by comparing initial and final testing;
  • Possess the language skills that allow them to function in French society independently;
  • Be familiar with France’s current social issues through hands-on experience and service.

Tulane pre-requisites: Previous coursework in French equivalent to completion of at least one beginner semester of university level French or enrollment in a French language course in the semester prior to going abroad is required for participation in the Toulouse program.  Participation in pre-departure orientation, including thematic lectures and discussions, is required in the fall 2009 semester.

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Assessment: The evaluation process is a method for students to engage in their own learning process, analyze objectively and take increased responsibility for newly acquired knowledge.  Feedback is provided routinely in a constructive manner, attempting to provide room for growth.  The aim is to better distinguish between what has been done and what has been learned.  In language study, evaluation takes into account not only performance through intensive course work, but also the student’s language practice and application throughout the overseas experience.
Grades throughout are given both fairly and rigorously. They will reflect a combination of absolute quality of performance, progress made and the ability to take into account and assimilate the Academic Director’s and professors’ lecture material. Students should expect daily assignments, quizzes, formal tests and short essays. Grades will be assigned by the course instructors based on US standards.  


Intensive Language Study: French
(FREN 1000-3000 / 8 credits / 144 class hours)

In this course, students are completely immersed in the French language, with an emphasis on field instruction in listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Students take 144 hours of French classes at Institut Catholique (IC) in two 68-hour intensive sessions (4 weeks each). After being tested upon arrival, students are placed in groups corresponding to their respective levels together with other foreign students. After the completion of the first session and grades are assigned, students are tested again and placed in a subsequent class that matches the level of demonstrated proficiency. French professors at IC have years of teaching experience and expertise in second language acquisition.

Formal course instruction is complemented with 10 hours of quotidian or “Familiar French”, and eight hours of song and poetry composition.  This experience allows students to get acquainted with "real" everyday French. Students learn how to use and recognize structures, intonations, onomatopoeia and vocabulary that are indispensable to communicate in France on a daily basis.  Students will study such examples as the language used in rap songs by young immigrants or in President Sarkozy's speeches as a political strategy to reach constituents.

Placement is based on in-country evaluation, including oral proficiency testing. Further language practice occurs in homestays, seminars, and field visits.

Every aspect of the program involves French learning, whether in a formal classroom setting or informal everyday interactions with local staff, lecturers, homestay members, excursion guides, village stay encounters, French students. Progress with language does not stop with French classes but continues and is reinforced throughout all communication with the staff, seminars and activities.

Community Service Project
(CSP/ 3 credits / 60 hours)

The community service project (CSP) is core to this study abroad program and an integral part of the overall French language learning and students must constantly exercise their target language practice while engaging in local projects.  Students, guided by the Academic Director, will work together on developing projects that best meet students’ interests, French language skills and overall program theme.

Examples of the community service projects are available on the SIT web site here:

The objective of the CSP is to conduct a field-based project while communicating and participating with the host culture. This demands a high level of interaction in the target language. Students should choose a project that is of real interest to them, one that they can commit to for the duration of the project. Prospective students’ ability to propose an appropriate community project and setting that allows them to discover an aspect of the host society that is new to them is an important factor in the admission process.

Examples include tutoring at a school in an immigrant neighborhood, working with an environmental nonprofit organization, participating in a community-based organic agriculture organization, or volunteering at the local Spanish film Festival “Cinespagna”.

The CSP component provides students with an opportunity to critically examine a topic, community, or situation related to social change in France. Over the years SIT has developed a broad network of individual and non-profit organization contacts with which students can work on their projects.

A successful CSP aims to expand language immersion and community involvement while giving back to the host community. Once on-site, students may develop or change CSP proposals based on additional knowledge of local realities and resources.  The Academic Director will approve and supervise the final project proposal, and will have weekly or bi-weekly assignments to keep students on track in their chosen course of study/service. The culmination and expectation for completion of a CSP is a six-page paper and an oral presentation, both in the target language. The main student learning outcomes are (1) time dedicated to service to the community; (2) learning and debriefing the profound lessons from that experience, and (3) increased language proficiency in French, developed by ongoing interaction with a community through service and exploration.

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Community and Social Change Seminar
(EURO 3000 / 4 credits / 60 class hours)

This interdisciplinary course consists of two major modules and is conducted in French with required readings. Students participate in two units, which explore the following topics:

  1. Diverse France: Center and Periphery

This module covers French colonization/decolonization; State and religion; Islam and French secularism; history and current issues of immigration in France; the Spanish exodus and its aftermath; immigrant urban culture: music, dance, and graffiti; minority languages, French Cultural identity and centralist tradition in the face of growing diversity, State versus local authorities’ role in the arts, French economic and social policy model in Europe;

  1. Community and Cultural Field Study

This module covers acculturation and methodology, and also involves advising, placement, and preparation for the Community Service Project.

Sample Educational Excursions
Students will participate in three educational excursions in southern France:

  1. Ten days in a village homestay in hilly Ariège or Pyrénées Orientales department and work on a village study by exploring an aspect of daily social life in their location;
  1. Three days in the Lot department, north of Toulouse (in the Spring) or the Aveyron department, northeast of Toulouse (in the Fall);
  1. Three days in the Pyrénées Orientales department, southeast of Toulouse, by the Mediterranean coast and the Pyrenees mountains.

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Program Costs (based on currently published prices; these numbers are subject to change):

Program fees include all courses, educational excursions, health insurance, and full room and board (all meals and accommodation) for the entire program period. Fees and additional expenses are based on all known circumstances at the time of calculation. Due to the unique nature of our programs and the economics of host countries, SIT reserves the right to change its fees or additional expenses without notice.

Tuition and Academic Fees: All students pay Tulane tuition and retain Tulane, state and federal scholarships and aid. Tulane will seek funding to cover airfare costs between the U.S. and France.

Room and Board: $5500.  The room and board fee covers the following program components:

  • All accommodations during the entire program period. This includes orientation, time in the program base (Toulouse), all excursions, during the Community Service Project and during the final evaluation period;
  • All meals for the entire program period. Meals are covered either by SIT Study Abroad directly or through a stipend, or through the homestay.
  • All organized homestays (twelve weeks in Toulouse and ten days in a village).

Sample Program Schedule – Spring 2010*

January Late                                          Arrival in Toulouse

January Late - February Early                  Program orienation in Toulouse
(city center hotel)

February Early                                       French language assessment and group placement
(Institut Catholique)       

February - March                                   Intensive French Language Study,
Community and Social Change Seminar, Field Study Project and Concurrent Homestay (Toulouse)

February Late – March Early                    Excursion to Aveyron Department

March Late                                             Excursion to Pyrénées Orientales

March Late – April Early                           “Etude de Village” period including homestay
                                                            (Pyrénées Orientales)

April – May                                            Community and Social Change Seminar                             
Field Study Project and Concurrent Homestay

May                                                        Program Evaluation

May Mid                                                 Program end

*This schedule is subject to change in France if necessary for curricular or logistical reasons.

How to Apply: Tulane students should begin the application process online with the SIT program application available here.

Please list Kelly Anderson ( in the box to have your application approved by Tulane OSA.

Applications will be reviewed by the Tulane Center for Global Education, as well as the School for International Training (SIT) for completeness. Students will be notified approximately two weeks after their completed application is submitted of their acceptance into the program.

Application Deadline: Students should plan to complete the online application by November 1, though early application is strongly encouraged.

For more information on the School for International Training, please visit their web site:

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Study Options in France

Lyon: NTC JYA at Lyon I & II

Paris: JYA Paris at EDUCO

Paris: Architecture at École Spéciale d'Architecture

Toulouse: Language, Community, & Social Change in France with the School for International Training

Useful Links for France

Embassy of France in Washington D.C.

Campus France Reference for Visa Applicants

U.S. Department of State, Consular Information Sheet - France

Lonely Planet: France

Relevant Tulane Academics

African & African Diaspora Studies

Department of French & Italian

International Development

Political Science - International Relations

Choosing a Program

1. Eligibility & Preparation
2. Advising
3. Application & Deadlines
4. Scholarships
5. Environmental Responsibility
6. Public Service Abroad

Contact Us

Office of Study Abroad
Center for Global Education
Tate House
7008 Zimple Street
New Orleans, LA 70118
Tel: (504) 865-5339
Fax: (504) 862-8765