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What Students Need to Know

Please Note: Currently the department is not accepting new majors in French. If you are interested in studying French, consider a minor in French.

What do I need to know as a new student?

Your G.P.A.

You will need to maintain a minimum overall grade point average of 3.0 and a minimum grade point average in French of 3.0 through graduation in order to remain in the program. However, these are only minimums. Some school district superintendents report that, when they screen job applicants, they often disregard those applicants whose overall grade point averages are below 3.2 or even 3.5.

Your Oral Proficiency in French.

Your ability to use French in oral communication is essential. Your oral proficiency will be assessed a minimum of two times: once during the second semester of your sophomore year and again the semester prior to student teaching. In rating your oral proficiency, the Department of French and German uses the official ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the scale developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Your Writing Proficiency in French.

The development of your writing proficiency is also important. The semester prior to Student Teaching you will take the Official ACTFL Writing Proficiency Test (WPT) and must receive a minimum rating of Advanced Low as a prerequisite for Student Teaching. (There is a fee for this test.)

If you do not attain Advanced Low, you may not student teach the next semester.

Your advisor will work with you to develop a plan for acquiring the skills necessary to reach the level. You may still take FL courses and may take another WPT the following semester.

Your field experiences in FL classrooms.


Year Experience Grade Level/Setting
Sophomore/Junior Pre-Student Teaching I (min. of 35 hours) Elementary School (local)
Junior Pre-Student Teaching II (min. of 35 hours) Middle or High School (Urban or Suburban)
Senior Student Teaching (15 weeks) Middle or High School (Urban or Suburban)

You will have three opportunities to develop your teaching expertise by teaching in public school classrooms:

How do we determine where you are placed for each field experience?

First of all, by the time you complete the program, you must have an elementary, middle, and high school experience. You should also experience an urban, suburban, and rural setting. An urban field experience is a must! School district superintendents in all three settings report that job applicants must have had an urban experience in order to be considered for employment. Secondly, the Department of French & German and the College of Education and Educational Technology select the school in which you will be placed, because we work with certain sites where highly qualified teachers were identified. Therefore, you must not call school districts on your own! Further, there are other restrictions on where you can be placed: for example, you cannot return to the district from which you graduated or in which a relative is employed. Our placements are situated in Southwestern Pennsylvania (i.e., in the Indiana Area and south and west within approximately a 45-mile radius).

Given the many variables which must be taken into consideration when arranging for both Pre-Student Teaching experiences and Student Teaching:

  • It is expected that you have your own transportation, preferably your own car. for Student Teaching, you should be prepared to arrange for housing near the school where you are placed.
  • In addition, because of the demands on your time during student teaching, you are asked not to have a job or take courses during this semester.
  • Poof of liability insurance is required for all field placements, including the FLES voluntary program at St Bernard. You may provide proof of liability insurance by joining PSEA or by having private insurance (must have a minimum of $1,000,000.00 per claim and an aggregate of $3,000,000.00 per occurrence if obtained via private insurance).

Knowing this information at this early stage will help you to prepare for your final semester.

Criminal Record Checks, Placement, and Notification

All teacher education programs leading to a certificate issued by the Pennsylvania Department of Education require that candidates complete field placements, including student teaching in a school setting or intermediate unit. Under current law, no placement can be made until a candidate presents Pennsylvania Criminal Record (Act 34) and Child Abuse Clearances (Act 151) as well as Act 114 (FBI Fingerprinting Record). Candidates for these programs should be aware that some districts or intermediate units may not accept placements if any criminal record is reflected on these background checks. Candidates with a criminal record, even a summary offense, are asked to disclose this history to their program upon entry so that a determination can be made about whether placement will be possible. Some serious offenses, typically involving child welfare, preclude state certification. Students who do not provide the required background checks or for whom the Teacher Education Office cannot find an acceptable placement will be terminated from the program. Copies of candidate clearances must be on file with the Teacher Education Office prior to beginning any school or intermediate unit placement.

Your professional involvement

You will want to begin thinking about ways in which you will become involved in your professional development outside of your course work. Throughout your time in our program, you will keep track of your professional activities by means of the “Professional Involvement Log” (check Student Handbook). You are required to present this log at every step of the Three-Steps Process: Step One, Mid-Program Review, Step Two, and Step Three. Ways in which you develop professionally include:

  • Your efforts to improve your FL proficiency outside of class through activities such as involvement in clubs (e.g., French Club, FLES program at St Barnard Elementary School) and interactions (as well as documented cyber-exchanges) with conversational partners;
  • Your attendance at professional development events such as FL pedagogical conferences (i.e., IUP’s Spring Methodology Conference)
  • Your membership in and involvement with professional organizations such as the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), the Pennsylvania State Modern Language Association (PSMLA), or the local chapter of the American Association of Teachers of French (AATF), to name just a few.

Your Advisor

You must meet with the Coordinator of Bachelor of Science in Secondary Education-French Program (your advisor) at least one time each semester, during the advising period prior to registration for the following semester. During each advising session, your advisor will take notes in a special form that you will be asked to sign (a copy of this form will be given to you after the session). You are also encouraged to take notes: Your degree and certification depend on several different administrations (IUP’s College of Education, IUP’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Pennsylvania Department of Education, etc.), and you are personally responsible to keep track of your personal progress. Your advisor is a resource and a guide, not a parent who is responsible for your life at IUP.

You will not be given your PIN slip until after you come to an advising meeting. At this meeting, you and your advisor will decide which courses you should select for the following semester.

Under no circumstances should you attempt to register without seeking the assistance of your advisor.

Your advisor has a great deal of program information to share with you; therefore, it is extremely important to schedule regular meetings.

In addition to this meeting, you will find it necessary to meet with your advisor concerning:

  • Application for each step of the Three-Step Process for Teacher Education;
  • Completion of requirements for mid-program review;
  • Placement for field experiences;
  • Any change in your program needs and requirements;
  • Ongoing discussion about your electronic portfolio and professional involvement;
  • Change in your address/phone;
  • Your general academic progress;
  • Study abroad opportunities and/or job opportunities;
  • Any other questions or problems you might encounter.

Your advisor will have posted office hours, during which time you may come in without an appointment. You might also schedule a specific appointment if you need more time or a time other than the posted office hours. You can also e-mail your advisor or if you have a brief question that can be answered easily over the telephone, you can call him.

Successful students take responsibility and keep in close contact with their advisors

  • Department of Foreign Languages
  • Sutton Hall, Room 455
    Indiana University of Pennsylvania
    Indiana, PA 15705
  • Phone: 724-357-2325
  • Fax: 724-357-1268
  • Office Hours
  • Monday–Friday
  • 8:00 a.m.–4:30 p.m.