Studying English in “Lettres Supérieures” should, in many ways, prove a completely new experience to most students.
The unique characteristic of this 1st year is that there is no set syllabus, per say. The objectives defined in the curriculum for this academic year are broad enough to offer each student a diverse perspective on the discipline of English language studies.
Although administratively there is a difference between those who take English as a 1st foreign language (Langue A) and those who choose it as a 2nd foreign language (Langue B), all students are strongly encouraged to attend the 2 weekly sessions of English.
Obviously students are first of all encouraged to build on the 4 skills (listening, speaking, reading, and writing) they are already familiar with thanks to their five or seven years of study at secondary school.
The first semester (September to January) is always geared towards reinforcement, leading to a greater or more acute mastery of the fundamental skills. The approach and teaching methodology are all inclusive, seeking to include all students regardless of their initial level, thus enabling everyone to benefit from the year’s course.
The focus on language ensures that students can:
come to a greater and truly detailed understanding of written and oral documents.
communicate clearly and precisely thanks to a greater mastery of all language tools: grammar, linguistic, phonology, vocabulary, etc.
count on a clear and efficient personal method to perform the various language tasks they are likely to encounter.
Students will be presented with a wide variety of exercises, documents, and resources to foster their knowledge and to develop the above objectives. They include:
language/linguistic analysis of texts taken from a wide variety of sources: newspaper articles, speech transcripts, novels, shorts stories etc…
translation exercises, from English to French and also, whenever suitable, from French to English.
introduction to literary texts and literary analysis at large with a particular emphasis on the short story.
analysis and interpretation of non-literary texts with a particular focus on primary-source documents to introduce students to some key cultural, historical, political or sociological features of the English-speaking world.
The second semester (February to June) builds on the skills developed during the first half of the year and ensures that students can master critical skills in the close reading and analysis of both literary and non-literary texts. Based on the needs of students and on their progress during the 1st semester, literature and civilization classes alternate every fortnight.
In the course of the 2nd semester students are invited to:
read one or two complete novels by a British and/or an American author and at least one play by Shakespeare. The literary analysis that enfolds combines both analysis and commentary of specific passages, and the study of the central themes of the literary piece.
give oral presentations on a weekly basis. Those presentations deal with literature, current news and key features of British and American civilization.
stage-produce or act out some of the key scenes taken from the novel or the play we are studying. This group work allows everyone to participate.
reflect on the art of translation, while continuing with the work started in the course of the 1st semester.
embark on a deeper linguistic analysis of English as a language.
Thus, at the end of the year students become more independent, not only thanks to a greater knowledge and understanding but also thanks to their new ability to study and work independently. They are in a position to face the new challenges offered by a second year in “CPGE” (khâgne) or L2 at university.
A practical overview of a typical beginning of term: