A Newly Developed French Placement Exam

While only being the 17th most spoken language (by population), French is actually the 2nd most popular language by number of countries. Trailing English (67), French has 34 countries which consider it a national language. Thus the need for developing a test to assess current fluency levels of college students (and others) and their proper placement was imperative.

French webCAPE was the second webcape language exam developed. It came out just a year after Spanish webCAPE. (To learn more about the development of webCAPE visit the Spanish webCAPE Page.) Once Spanish was complete, and with the engine built, managing webCAPE for the French language was a lot easier. Brigham Young University’s French department experience the same problem as Spanish–too many students coming in at all levels of placement.

In terms of college enrollment, French trails only Spanish. In a 2009 MLA study, Spanish had 864,986 students enrolled, while French had 216,419. German, ASL and Italian rounded out the top 5. Spanish and French enrollment make up for 64% of the total foreign language enrollment and the top five languages make up 80% of the total course enrollment. (MLA enrollment Survey, 2009). Arabic, Korean and Chinese have seen the largest growth of enrollment since 2002.

While we witness the growth of other languages, French still holds strong for many people:

  • France is the most visited country in the world with an average of 75 million tourists each year.
  • French film production is number two in the world.
  • French has more than a million words, with upwards of 20,000 new ones created each year.
  • At the time of the French Revolution 75% of French citizens did not speak French as a mother tongue. Until the 19th century, French was spoken more widely in Holland and Germany than in some parts of France.
  • French webCAPE placement numbers follow very similar to those trends of the world. Behind Spanish (at 64%) , French is most common (17%) taken webCAPE exam. It will be interesting to keep an eye on the trends in high schools to see if the language preference of student’s ultimately change. But as for the time being, webCAPE is more than capable to accurately assess the proficiency levels of any college, business or institution and offer accurate placement for their needs.

WebCAPE takes care of the sorting for your institution. Based on the facts above, we can safely assume students of all French proficiency levels will be coming to your colleges. WebCAPE quickly & efficiently measures and places them into an appropriate French course.