The French undergraduate curriculum is set to undergo revisions, with the help of a highly competitive grant.

Professor Daniel Nabil Maroun obtained $12,000 in funding from the French Embassy and the FACE Foundation (French-American Cultural Exchange) to develop new courses and rethink what language education looks like in the process.

“We believe it's imperative to continue to highlight the importance of a multilingual education,” said Maroun. “This grant will help us give our students an opportunity to utilize their linguistic skills but also develop richer intercultural competence and awareness.”

Maroun’s proposal, “Professionalizing French in Illinois: Empowering French and Francophone Studies,” responded to a call to “initiate mid-to-long-term changes in French and Francophone studies through innovation, equity, inclusion, and social justice in the context of a diversifying U.S. society.” The proposal was developed in collaboration and consultation with members of the Department of French & Italian.

“The goal is to support programming nationally that elevates and exposes the benefits of speaking French in the U.S. We thought it was a perfect opportunity for us to revitalize and also introduce new courses,” said Maroun.

The updated curriculum will include new courses such as “French for the Professions” and “French in the Community.”

These classes will offer professionalized French language instruction and give students the chance to engage with local French-speaking populations through schools or organizations that work with these communities.

“We have a unique French-speaking community in the Midwest, and we felt it's imperative, as a land-grant institution, to engage with our community,” said Maroun. “We want our students to realize that French is local, right here in their own neighborhood. We believe it’s imperative to highlight how their language skills can provide fruitful, culturally rich experiences at the local level while elevating populations who need it most.”

The department is currently in the planning, developing, and approval stages, but Maroun said they’re hoping to open the new courses to students within the next year.

Dania De La Hoya Rojas