Placement & registration: which French course to take?


Quick navigation:


FREN 102 is the second part of UBC’s French course sequence for true beginners. It follows on from FREN 101, which is a course for beginners and as such is intended and designed for people who have no prior knowledge of French. (The next course after FREN 102 is FREN 111, then FREN 112, successful completion of which satisfies the Faculty of Arts Language Requirement.)

FREN 102 is probably the right course for you if:

  • you have succesfully completed FREN 101 (or the equivalent at another institution)
  • or you have succesfully completed French 10 (or the equivalent)
  • or you have succesfully completed French 11 (or equivalent) more than five years ago

→ If you are not sure if this is the right course for you, please read on…

From UBC > Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies (FHIS) > Undergraduate French advisingGuidelines for Placement in French Language Courses:

For students who wish to improve their ability to communicate in French, the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies offers a series of eight courses [ FREN 101, 102, 111, 112, 122, 123, 224, and 225] designed to build progressively their skills in the four basic communicative functions of listening, reading, speaking and writing.

It is conceivable that a few absolute beginners who aspire to become highly proficient in French might take all eight courses, but what if you share that aspiration, but aren’t a beginner?  Where do you start?  Languages can be learned in so many different contexts that starting points are not self-evident if you decide to continue learning them in the very particular context of a university course. So, read on … 

Restrictions on Enrolment

Generally speaking, students may not earn academic credit for any course below the level for which they have qualified by previous study. For example, if you have passed French 12 within five years, you may not take any of these courses for credit. If you have passed French 11, you may not take FREN 101 or FREN 102 for credit. But there are a few exceptions:

  • Students studying French to satisfy the language requirement of either the Faculty of Arts or the School of Music may begin one level below that for which they have qualified, if they lack confidence in the adequacy of their preparation.
  • Any students who last studied French more than five years ago may also begin one level below that for which they have qualified. If they want to drop down more than one level, they should consult the course coordinator of the course that they wish to take.

PLACEMENT GUIDANCE: FREN 101 vs. 102 vs. 111

101 vs. 102 : One practical way to check, also good for general revision:

  • FREN 101 final exam from December 2013 (PDF); try to see how much of it you can complete
  • answer key to that exam (PDF): this is the official corrected version, which includes the correction guidelines; these were in common across all sections, so as to ensure parity in marking.
    If you have a high grade (75% or more, and 80% or more on the first (grammar) and second (comprehension) sections), then 101 is probably too easy for you and 102 would be a more appropriate choice.

102 vs. 111:


We do not take “free auditors” (i.e. not registered) at all. Auditors are only taken in FREN 101 & 102 in exceptional circumstances. Auditing may be an option if you do not have to take the course for credit: check with your advising office. In order to audit a course, you need first to register for it in the usual way (through the Student Service Centre) and then change your registration status to that of an auditor. This process will require consultation with your instructor, and is subject to faculty approval.

See further:


You can add and drop courses online at the Student Service Centre until week 3 of term (week 2 in the summer session). During that time, you can also move from percentage grading to Credit/D/Fail grading, and back again, and to and fro…

After the add/drop date has passed, you can no longer make changes yourself on the SSC: you’ll need to complete a form, ask your instructor or the coordinator to sign it (the coordinator also coordinates with instructors and will ask for their consent in such matters), and then take it to your home Faculty for processing and further approval.

Here are the forms:

UBC allows students to take a limited number of elective courses, which are normally graded on a percentage basis, for either “Credit” (a grade of 55% or higher), “D” (at least 50 but less than 55%), or “Fail” (less than 50%).

If you choose to take a course as Cr/D/F, your instructor will not know.

The Credit/D/Fail (Cr/D/F) grading policy was created to:

  • encourage students’ exploration of subject matter outside their program of study
  • emphasize learning and academic exploration of the new and unfamiliar
  • expose students to a broader based curriculum

You may choose to take FREN 102 (and indeed 111) as Credit/D/Fail.
For FREN 112: it depends on why you are taking it.
If you are taking FREN 112 to satisfy the Arts Language Requirement, you must take it for credit: “You cannot apply Credit/D/Fail grading to the course that satisfies the Language Requirement (though you could apply it to a pre-requisite course).”
(Faculty of Arts » Academic Advising » Degree Requirements » Language Requirement)

Folon-nonautravailforceWHAT TO DO IF A CLASS/SECTION IS FULL?

First, some tips from the Ubyssey (2016-09-02).

Next, from our home Faculty, Arts Academic Advising > Course Registration > Full courses, with any extra comments specific to FREN 101 in italics:

Things you can do if the course you want is full

There are a couple of ways to deal with full classes and which one is applicable depends on the particular course.

On-line waitlists: Some courses have waitlists. That means you can register for the waitlist in the SSC and the department will move people into classes as spaces become available. These waitlists look like sections, but they will say “waitlist”. Note: registering for a waitlist will take up credits. You will not be notified that you have been moved from the waitlist into the course so regularly check your timetable in the SSC.

  • If there is a waitlist for FREN 102, it will be at the SSC. If you do not see a waitlist there, that means that there is no waitlist.

Informal waitlists: Some instructors have informal waitlists. During the summer and in the first weeks of class, they may sign Change of Registration Forms for students on their waitlists or who come to class and request it. Not all instructors do this, but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

  • FREN 102: There are no informal wait-lists for this course or for individual sections/instructors: all registration goes through the Student Service Centre, for practical reasons. The rationale is that it is impossible to integrate informal wait-lists—be they one single one maintained by one of the department administrative staff (and this would entail employing another person just for that purpose, given the numbers of students taking French and Spanish courses) or several separate lists, one for each instructor and maintained by them—with actual seats via formal registration.
  • For changes of registration for FHIS department courses, please DO NOT USE the forms at Arts Advising (filling it out and submitting it via Arts Advising): it is not accepted by FHIS.
    Instead, please use the Department of French, Hispanic and Italian Studies Request to “Force” Registration Into a Full Course form
  • Note also that completing such a form, even with the consent of both the instructor and the coordinator, does not guarantee you a seat in that class: final decisions rest with the department head, as some students have higher priority than others (ex. final-year students in Arts who need to take a course in order to satisfy the language requirement and be able to graduate)

Check the course schedule regularly: You’ll be surprised at how many people make changes to their schedule all summer, and if someone drops a course while you’re on the system, you can enter it that way.

  • Yes: this is the NUMBER ONE BEST TIP EVER for getting into a full class

Try to find another class: Try using the Course Search function on the UBC Course Schedule to find another suitable course if you cannot get into the one you want.

  • Tip 1:  If you are interested in French but do not need to take it to satisfy the language requirement, take a look at the courses offered by UBC Continuing Studies.
  • Tip 2: If you are interested in French because you need to satisfy the language requirement, remember that you may satisfy that language requirement with any of thirty-odd languages taught at UBC (not just French) so take a look at the full range of languages offered by UBC. One of the advantages of this university’s size is the number of languages it is able to offer. French is of course the best language in the world 🙂 but some other languages might be even more relevant to *your* field of study and academic and future work interests.
  • Tip 3: the languages offered by UBC include lesser-taught languages in smaller classes. Half to two-thirds of the size of our (oversized) French clases. Especially if you are learning a language for the first time, small classes = good.
  • Tip 4: to satisfy the language requirement, you don’t necessarily have to take (a) course(s) up to the requisite level. You can take a proficiency test; this is also an option for languages not offered in UBC courses.
  • Tip 5: If you need to satisfy a distribution requirement by taking an elective in Arts, this doesn’t have to be a language course (check with your faculty’s academic advising office). The Faculty of Arts covers a wide range of subjects, so do take a look at all the courses offered by the Faculty of Arts. It could be a wonderful opportunity to discover a new field of knowledge, be that for cultural enrichment, the pleasure of intellectual adventure, or to make exciting new cross-disciplinary connections with your main field(s) of academic interest.
    See also: Faculty of Arts > Academic Advising > Degree requirements: the language requirement
  • Tip 6: If you are not in the Faculty of Arts (Commerce, Engineering, Music, Science, etc.) and have questions about language and distribution requirements, please consult Academic Advising in your home Faculty or School

Sometimes, it is not possible to get into a full course: For some courses such as Economics, French, Hispanic and Italian, instructors are not able to add students to their full classes.

  • #truefact. There are pedagogical and practical reasons for limiting language class sizes. 

If you are in your last year at UBC

If you’re in your graduating year, you will not be excluded from taking a required course due to space. This rule does not apply to electives or preferred sections. If a course you need is full, consult your department advisor.

NB: you may satisfy the language requirement with any of thirty-odd languages taught at UBC (not just French); by taking (a) course(s) up to the requisite level, or by taking a proficiency test; the latter is also an option for languages not offered in UBC courses

From FHIS > Undergraduate French advising:

  • Full classes
    If the class is full, please check the Student Service Centre periodically for available seats.
  • Waiting lists
    The department keeps waiting lists only for new sections that may be opened in a given course. They will be found at the Student Service Centre with the designation WL.
  • “Force” registration into a full course [Download Form]
    Departmental “force” forms are used only to force a student into a full section during the first days of classes.
  • NB “force” registration = for final-year undergraduate students in the Faculty of Arts who need to take certain courses in order to graduate. For example: winter session 2017, taking FREN 112, or FREN 111 (term 1) and 112 (term 2), to satisfy the Arts language requirement.


Department of French, Hispanic & Italian Studies
French advising


FHIS First and Second Year Advising and Placement
Dr. Michael O’Hagan, Office: BuTo 705
– Office hours: see faculty profile page
– E-mail:


Dr Juliet O’Brien, Office: BuTo 728
– Office hours: see faculty profile page
– Email:

FREN 101 co-ordinator:
Dr Juliet O’Brien, Office: BuTo 728
– Office hours: see faculty profile page
– Email:

FREN 102 co-ordinator:
Dr Juliet O’Brien, Office: BuTo 728
– Office hours: see faculty profile page
– Email:

FREN 111 co-ordinator:
Dr Robert Miller, Office: BuTo 707
– Office hours: see faculty profile page
– Email:

FREN 112 co-ordinator:
Dr Robert Miller, Office: BuTo 707
– Office hours: see faculty profile page
– Email: