French Immersion: Contemporary Issues in the French-Speaking World

Three weeks living and breathing French will transform your first-year language skills beyond what you thought was possible.

Photos from past years


Are you interested in all things French?  Do you want to increase your French proficiency through an intense immersion program right here at Stanford? The answer is “French Immersion: Contemporary Issues in the French-Speaking World,” a course designed to help students move towards greater linguistic and cultural competence. French Immersion is intended for students who have completed roughly the equivalent of a year of French. In this class you will gain the cultural, historical, and linguistic knowledge necessary for taking future French courses.

In SoCo French Immersion, you will enhance your French proficiency through intensive lessons and interaction in the target language. The content will include film, literature, news videos, and songs that reflect the cultural and social realities that the French-speaking world faces today, including a better understanding of religious and racial minorities in France . You will gain a deeper understanding of French and Francophone cultural products and practices through the exploration of a variety of topics such as art, fashion, cuisine in current French society.  The course will include a range of in-class activities, organized off-campus excursions, a cooking workshop, art projects, and more, all in French!

Some French knowledge is required in advance, but the class accommodates a range of levels, from taking 3 quarters of French your first year; having AP or IB background in French; or having taken part of the second year sequence.

Meet the Instructor(s)

Maria Comsa


I was born and raised in Transylvania (Romania), where I grew up learning French. Before moving to the US, I lived and studied in France where I obtained a DEUG (Diplôme d’Études Universitaires Générales) in Lettres Modernes at Université Lyon2 Lumière. In the US, I continued my studies (BA and MA from San José State University) and earned my PhD in French Literature from Stanford University in 2014. My research focuses on 18th-century French theater, Casanova, second language acquisition, and digital humanities. I am currently working on a project on society theater in 18th-century France and on Casanova’s theatrical networks.

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Heather Howard


Southern California born and raised, I first studied in France as an international relations student at Sciences Po in Grenoble. I grew up in Santa Barbara, California, raised by a francophile mother who passed on her love of the language and culture. After several years working for an international law firm and earning a paralegal degree, I left to pursue a degree in French Literature degree at UCLA, where I earned a doctorate in 18th-century literature. My thesis focused on the figure of the reader in Diderot's theoretical texts on art, literature and theater. After teaching at a variety of different institutions, including USC, Scripps Claremont and Allegheny College, I came to Stanford eleven years ago as a lecturer in French. I teach French language courses at all levels and am also an instructor for Stanford’s Continuing Studies program.  My early interests in literature, philosophy and politics are now combined with a passion for language teaching. My most current research and conference presentations have focused on these pedagogical challenges, especially on how to bring greater cultural context to the language classroom.

Visit Dr. Howard's Website