AP French Language and Culture

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A redesigned AP French Language and Culture course and exam launched in fall 2011. The new course is comparable to fourth semester (or the equivalent) college/university courses in French. This revision to the course and exam is a reflection of our commitment to continually enhance AP’s alignment with current best practices in college-level learning. Learn more about the AP course and exam redesign.

Foundations of the Redesign

The new French Language and Culture course and exam were developed by a committee of college French faculty and AP teachers, using the Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century as a foundation. The curriculum also incorporates the results of a 2007 study of nearly 250 parallel college course curricula and the findings of a 48-member commission.

Goals of the redesign:
  • Align with national standards. The revisions integrate the instructional goals — communications, cultures, connections, comparisons and communities — outlined in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning: Preparing for the 21st Century.
  • Focus on communication. Students demonstrate proficiency in the three modes of communication: interpersonal, interpretive and presentational.
  • Encourage cultural awareness. Students develop an awareness and appreciation of aspects of francophone cultures, including products (tools, books, music, laws, conventions and institutions); practices (patterns of social interactions); and perspectives (values, attitudes and assumptions).
  • Incorporate a thematic approach. A thematic structure enables students to study a variety of concepts in meaningful and engaging contexts. Students are motivated to explore the various themes through essential questions that drive inquiry and curiosity.

  • Provide clear learning objectives. The learning objectives describe the knowledge and skills students need to achieve college-level language proficiency.

Course and Exam Overview

The three modes of communication (interpersonal, interpretive and presentational) are foundational to the AP French Language and Culture course. The six learning objectives of the course are built on the three modes of communication.

Interpersonal Mode

The interpersonal mode involves spontaneous two-way interaction and an active negotiation of meaning between two or more people, such as conversing face-to-face or exchanging written correspondence.

Interpretive Mode

Students interpret a broad range of written and oral texts. Students develop their aural proficiency through exposure to contextualized language and written materials

Presentational Mode

Students develop the speaking proficiency to be able to create a level-appropriate speech or report, produce a newscast or video, and narrate personal experiences and current events in a coherent fashion with comprehensible pronunciation and intonation.

The course takes a holistic approach to language proficiency and recognizes the complex interrelatedness of comprehension and comprehensibility, vocabulary usage, language control, communication strategies and cultural awareness. Students learn language structures in context and use them to convey meaning. The course strives to promote fluency and accuracy and to engage students in an exploration of culture in both contemporary and historical contexts. In order to best facilitate the study of language and culture, the course is taught in French.

Read the full course description and exam information with sample questions.

AP French Language and Culture Development Committee

Committee Co-Chairs

  • Sven Oelhafen, Father Ryan High School, Nashville, Tennessee
  • Aïssata G. Sidikou, United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland

Committee Members

  • Heather Willis Allen, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, Wisconsin
  • Nathan Bracher, Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas
  • Abbe Guillet, Charles W. Baker High School, Baldwinsville, New York
  • Jane Kairet, Cincinnati Country Day School, Cincinnati, Ohio

College Board Advisor

  • Deborah S. Reisinger, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina

Chief Reader

  • Pascal Ifri, Washington University, St. Louis, Missouri

Chief Reader Designate

  • Brian Kennelly, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California