Renewal programme for language teaching at the Université Charles-de-Gaulle-Lille3

Author(s): Martine Benoit
Institution/Organisation: Université Charles-de-Gaulle-Lille3 (FR)


1.1 Scope of the initiative

  • levels: all levels of university studies (Degree, Masters, Doctorate)
  • target groups: all students. The learning of at least one foreign language is compulsory within all degrees and is carried out in almost all Masters courses. In almost each syllabus, 3 ECTS (European Credits Transfer System) are reserved for the learning of a foreign language. This corresponds to 1hr30 or 2hrs per week in the classroom.
    Within this framework, a Lille3 student can choose from the 20 languages on offer. There are a small number of components which do not follow this principle:
  • The Department of Psychology. English is compulsory for academic reasons: psychology students need to be able to read and write in English in their later research.
  • The Department of History: languages on offer are English, German, Spanish, Italian and Dutch as these languages are considered essential for students of Art History or History in general.

In parallel to their main course, students can also study for a DUFL (a University Language Diploma) over a period of three years. Lille3 offers a DUFL in Arab, Catalan, Chinese, Danish, Dutch, Old Greek, Modern Greek, Hebrew, Hungary, Japanese, Italian, Latin, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Persian, Spanish and Swedish.

1.2 Range of languages learned


One of the specific characteristics of Lille3 is that it is a university which offers courses in over 20 languages. Hence the choice of languages is very wide : German, English, literary and dialectal Arabic, Chinese, Spanish, Modern Greek, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbo-Croat, Vietnamese, Persian, Swedish, French as a foreign language and French Sign Language.

1.3 Learning outcomes


For the last two years Lille3 has been indexing courses in LANSAD (Languages for Specialists of Other Disciplines) on the CEFR scales of reference for undergraduate (L) and Masters (M) levels. French universities are strongly encouraged to carry out this work based on the CEFR. Secondary education adapted all its syllabuses to the CEFR in 2005 in the context of the Foreign Language Renovation Policy. The objectives established by the National Education programmes were as follows:



For universities, article 6 of the Order of the 25th April 2002 pertaining to the Masters diploma lays down the requirements, stipulating that « the Masters diploma will only be conferred upon the validation of aptitude in at least one foreign language ».

A new proposal taking into account the entrance levels of new holders of the Baccalauréat was drawn up for languages learned at secondary school and for languages started at university. For undergraduates (L), the proposal entails the following:

a. Languages started from scratch:
* level 1: A1/1
* level 2: A1/2
* level 3: A2/1

b. Languages started in secondary school:
* level 4: A2-objective B1/1
* level 5: B1 confirmed
* level 6: objective B2/1


At Masters level, a B2/C1 is expected.


A new scheme concerning Languages for Specialists of Other Disciplines (LANSAD) has been voted by the governing body of Lille 3 University. It includes the taking of a certification within the cursus in order to certify the level of language of the students (cf CLES certificate as described below).


1.4 Practical realisation


1.4.1. Innovation in the classroom for Degree and Masters

  • 2006: indexing of all language courses of the CEFR
  • 2008: the broadest implementation of a placement test for new baccalaureat holders in first degree and in Masters
  • 2008: working with the Language Resource Centre (see below)

1.4.2. The “Plan langues à l’Ecole Doctorale”

  • workshops in three languages (Spanish, German, English) from January till June. The aim is to enable students to comprehend oral and written discourse and attend or participate in conferences.
  • organisation of study days in one of these three languages
  • organisation of a study day entitled « Babel » at the end of June, gathering interventions in any of these three languages.

1.4.3. Working with the Language Resource Centre (LRC)

Lille3 has created a back-up system for students in the form of a Language Resource Centre. Opened in 2001, the Language Resource Centre is not only a media library but a centre of learning and innovative interaction between teachers and learners. It allows students to personalize their learning routes and encourages the autonomy of students (both linguistic autonomy and learner autonomy). The LRC makes available the following resources:

  • digital resources available on the market (CD-Roms and websites for language learning, free access to dictionaries). The CD-Roms are only in the LRC accessible. Websites are accessible via Internet.
  • authentic documents (videos, DVDs, Live TV, information websites)
  • multimedia documents compiled by members of the teaching staff
  • training modules

The LRC is not open to the students of the partner universities of the Nord-Pas-de-Calais but:

  • A reflexion has been launched within the Regional Numerical University Board (UNR) so that the access to the websites of the 6 InterU universities becomes compatible.
  • An application has been developed to facilitate the access to the language resources of the RLC. The application permits an interoperability and aims at federating the LRC of the 6 universities members of the interU-langues project.

The LRC also provides a broad logistical support structure for the autonomization of learning thanks to the work of its teams of « language tutors » (lecteurs or teachers, often native speakers, have hours timetabled in the Centre):

  • A support system for students enrolled on courses, involving work which is complementary to classwork (according to the resources prescribed and validated by the teacher); the opportunity to work in split groups, whereby one half works at the LRC in supervised autonomy and the other half works in class. The autonomous learning in the LRC is not compulsory and depends of the aims of the each teacher. There is no fixed amount of working hours per week, it depends of the curricula (Example: two hours a week are demanded for students of German in the second year).
  • The preparation for mobility of outgoing students and the welcome and accompaniment of new arrivals.
  • Preparation for certificates, in particular the CLES (see below).
  • An autonomization of students through guided self-learning and the setting up of tandems (see below).

The TANDEM system created by the LRC of Lille3 not only brings a foreign student into contact with a French-speaking student, it also involves the following:

  • help with the setting up of the tandem
  • monitoring of the progress of the tandem (at least at the beginning)
  • the writing up of a specific personal log book
  • language workshops with a tutor

This system is included in two courses: undergraduate Level 2 (L2) in English Studies and undergraduate Level2 (L2) in German Studies; it allows the validation of 6 ECTS.

The tandem project in 2007-2008 also brought together almost 100 students for the following languages: English, German, Dutch, Chinese, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Greek etc…

A « Teletandem » device has also been launched in Portuguese at L2 level. The initial meeting takes place via Windows Live Messenger (webcams at the CRL). An agreement was signed between the UNESP (Brazil) and Lille 3. The teletandem system is overseen by teachers from the Department of Portuguese and validated by an Oral Expression unit (3 ECTS).

In May 2008 we have also started an experimentation in order to support the work of the International Relations Service: we offered an « International Mobility Module », an independent learning module which was on offer in the following languages: English, German, Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, Greek, Czech, Swedish/Danish. This training module, consisting of two days before mobility and one day of « debriefing » after mobility, offers students the following:

  • the passing of a placement test
  • methodological aid with the setting up of autonomous linguistic revision (via the LRC platform)
  • Creation of a roadmap for each student with the choice between a portfolio or a log book.
  • A cultural outlook on the host country and university
  • Conversation workshops for less commonly taught languages
  • After mobility, a new placement test and an assessment of the progress made, the advantages and disadvantages of mobility, etc…

1.4.4. Promoting certifications: The CLES (Certificat de Compétence en Langue de l'Enseignement Supérieur).

The Higher Education Language Skills Certificate was created to promote the teaching of languages in French universities to allow those students who wish to do so to prove their level of competence, in particular prior to mobility, when seeking work experience or enrolling for a public entrance exam.
The CLES is a national certificate which is both public and free of charge. It is offered to students who are specialists of other disciplines and has three levels (CLES 1, CLES 2, CLES3) in keeping with the scales of reference (B1, B2 and C1 or C2) of the CECR. At the March/May 2008 session, Lille3 offered the following certifications:

  • CLES1: German, English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Greek, Portuguese, Russian.
  • CLES2: German, English, Arabic, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and Portuguese
  • CLES3: German, English
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