Spend a semester, or a year improving your French language skills and understanding of Francophone culture in Rennes, the charming Capital of Brittany. Through intensive coursework, homestays, direct enrolment options and cultural activities, you’ll enjoy a dynamic, unique intercultural experience.
Study abroad in Rennes and you will:
Gain a deeper understanding of the French people and fluency in the French language
Have direct enrolment opportunities and for-credit teaching internships in a primary, middle, or high school
Explore Paris during a three-day orientation prior to arrival in Rennes
Live with a French family and immerse yourself in the culture
Enjoy cultural and educational activities such as visits to museums, theaters and excursions to sites such as the southwestern coast of Brittany, the beaches of Normandy, the Mt St Michel and the castles of the Loire Valley
The CIEE Difference
Whether you’re a basic or proficient language user, CIEE offers six levels of French instruction meaning you’ll find a program in Rennes that meets your interests and abilities. Choose from courses including French Cinema, History, Economics, and Literature, in addition to language classes in oral expression, writing and comprehension.
An advanced track of language study is available to students who have at least six semesters of college-level French.
Cultural Activities and Field Trips
The academic study abroad program is supplemented by a range of cultural activities and field trips, which include the initial orientation in Paris, visits to museums, a Rennes city tour, theater performances, and group dinners.
In past semesters, students have participated in field trips to the southwestern coast of Brittany, the beaches of Normandy, the Mt St Michel and a tour of the castles along the Loire valley. Two, two-day excursions take place during the fall semester. One two-day and two one-day excursions take place during the spring semester.
Study abroad students can participate in a teaching practicum in a primary, middle, or high school. This is a great way for students to learn more about the educational system in France and become involved with the community, while earning credit through Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL).
Total recommended credit for the semester is 16–18 semester/24–27 quarter hours. Total recommended credit for the academic year is 32–36 semester/48–54 quarter hours. Maximum number of credits per semester is 18. Participants are required to take a minimum of 14 semester credits.
The standard format for CIREFE and UHB classes is 2 contact hours per week. 3 or 4 hour classes are very rare; the only exceptions are the intermediate CIREFE language classes which meet 6 hours per week.
Course contact hours and recommended credit is listed with the descriptions of the various degree levels in the courses section.
Students take a minimum of 14 credits and usually 16 to 18 credits per semester. These include:
Required preliminary language and culture course (2 credits)
Required language course at level of placement (Levels A1–C2, an average of 6 credits)
3 to 5 content courses which are 2 or 3 credits. Students placed in the advanced level take one or two courses, depending on credit load. Content courses include UHB courses.
After the Preliminary Language and Culture course, students take courses directly through CIREFE. The CIREFE’s mission is to provide an appropriate level of language instruction to all foreign students while preparing them to participate in regular French university classes. Students are placed in one of six levels in the CIREFE depending on their performance on the placement examination at the end of the Preliminary Language and Culture course. Each level has a prescribed set of courses. Since placement is determined after arrival, students should have their home school advisor evaluate courses at all levels for credit. Placements during the spring semester for academic year students are dependent on performance during the fall semester.
In the case of insufficient enrollment in certain electives, some courses may not be offered. Courses are offered in the fall and spring semesters, unless otherwise indicated. All courses are considered to be junior- and senior level.
With its young population of 60,000 students, Rennes is a perfect setting for study in France. Just two hours west of Paris by train, Rennes is the capital of Brittany. Economically very dynamic, the city is known as a center for technology. The city offers an excellent variety of cultural events, with its national theater, opera, orchestra, numerous cinemas, soccer stadium, and skating rink. Rennes provides study abroad students the opportunity to learn the distinct Celtic traditions particular to this region of France.
Where You’ll Study
The Université de Haute Bretagne (UHB) is divided into two campuses: Rennes I (science) and Rennes II (humanities). Rennes II is the host for the study abroad program, and offers courses in twelve departments. Rennes II enrolls about 22,000 students, including 1,500 international students. The campus is one mile northwest of downtown. CIEE students register for courses at the Centre International Rennais d’Etude du Francais pour les Etrangers (CIREFE), a department within UHB that teaches both French language and content courses to international students.
Housing & Meals
Housing and all meals are included in the program fee. During the program, study abroad students live in French homes, either in Rennes or in a close suburb. Students eat breakfast and dinner Monday through Friday and all weekend meals at the place of residence. Meal tickets are distributed for lunches during the week. The Resident Director and the Student Services Coordinator meet with students individually to confirm their housing.
The CIEE Study Center in Rennes opened in 1971, and is geared to students with intermediate to advanced-level French skills interested in perfecting their language abilities. The study abroad program offers a combination of French language and content courses taken at the CIREFE and the opportunity to take regular university courses at the Université de Haute Bretagne Rennes II (UHB).
During the first few weeks, students take an intensive CIEE language and culture course consisting of 30 hours of language and civilization coursework and 10 hours of cross-cultural analysis and cultural adaptation seminars. Immediately following this intensive program, and based on the results of a placement exam, students enroll in CIREFE and UHB classes.
Higher education in France is divided into three stages: the licence, masters, and doctorat. French students specialize in a particular discipline at the outset of their university studies, with a prescribed set of courses in their discipline and a limited choice of electives. Professors in France tend to be more formal than in the U.S. and do not see it as their role to give encouragement or individual attention to students. They see themselves as specialists who are there to impart their knowledge. As a result, French students are generally very self-disciplined and do not expect to be motivated by their instructors, but rather judge a course by the quality and quantity of information taught.
CIREFE, where CIEE study abroad students take the majority of their classes, does provide more individual attention to international students. However, students must still have a more independent, self-motivated attitude. Teachers do notice when students are absent, which can affect their grade. Syllabi are seldom as detailed as in the U.S. and students need to be able to figure out for themselves what is important, what should be memorized, etc. All CIREFE courses are taught in French. A strong emphasis is placed on writing skills, more so than in the U.S. One reason is that many international students in CIREFE classes go on to study at a French university, and therefore need to have an excellent command of the written language. Secondly, the core language class in each level emphasizes written French. And finally, a student’s written work is considered to be a more reliable indicator of their overall competency in French. Thus, you will find that the French professors are particularly concerned with your ability to demonstrate logical thinking, produce well-structured arguments, and conform to French methodology.
Classes in which CIEE students enroll meet Monday through Friday, with excursions on some weekends. Students usually take two, two-hour classes per day. Students are expected to complete all of the work given and take exams when scheduled. Advanced students may enroll in one or two courses at UHB and must attend lectures, take notes, complete assigned work, and take exams. Special exams are given if the exam period falls outside the CIEE program dates.
Nature of Classes
CIREFE classes are with CIEE and other international students. UHB classes are with French students. All classes are taught in French.
CIEE Community Language Commitment
Study abroad students take part in the CIEE Community Language Commitment by speaking French at all times (except in emergencies). This fosters a learning community that contributes to both French language proficiency and understanding of French society.
Assessment varies but is usually based on essays, written tests, oral presentations, out-of-class project reports, class participation, and final exams. Students can expect at least two major exams during the term. Although continuous assessment of student performance occurs, it is usual for the final exam to account for as much as 50% of the final grade.
UHB professors use a French grading scale of zero to 20, with 10 considered a minimal passing grade. French students are content to receive a grade in the 12 to 15 range (roughly equivalent to a B). CIEE and other international students who take UHB courses for credit are also graded on this scale. The resident director converts all final grades into U.S. letter grades using an international grade conversion chart.
Advanced French Track
For students who have at least six semesters of college-level French and place into CIREFE’s C1 and C2 levels, the CIEE Study Center in Rennes offers an opportunity to pursue an advanced track of study. Levels and placement are determined by performance on a placement test. Students who qualify for and pursue the advanced track have the opportunity to choose among a host of social science and humanities courses at the UHB.
Study abroad students can participate in a teaching practicum in a primary, middle, or high school. This is a great way for students to learn more about the educational system in France and become involved with the community, while earning credit through Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). Interested students must enroll in one methodology course conducted in French. Students are responsible for preparing a one-hour lesson in English per week. The final grade is based on lesson plans, homework assignments, and class observations. The resident director or teaching practicum supervisor oversees the experience and evaluates the students’ performance. Students receive three credit hours. Those seeking credit for this experience must obtain written approval from their home institution prior to arrival.
Language of Instruction
All courses are taught by faculty members from the Université de Haute Bretagne, Rennes II.