General presentation


Université de Genève
5, rue de Candolle
1211 Genève 4
Tél. : 41-22-379.74.33/36/37
Fax : 41-22-379.76.81
Internet : https://www.unige.ch/lettres/elcf
E-mail : elcf(at)unige.ch

Secretariat opening hours :

  • Monday from 11.00 to 12.00 and from 14.00 to 16.00
  • Tuesday from 10.00 to 12.00
  • Thursday from 11.00 to 13.00

Director : Laurent Gajo, professor at the Faculté des lettres


A school part of the Faculté des lettres

The Ecole de langue et de civilisation françaises (ELCF), which is part of the Faculté des lettres, leads teaching and research activities and offers services in the field of French as a second language (FLE), applied linguistics and pluriligualism. Its first vocation is to teach French, in its various linguistic and cultural forms, to non-native speakers of French.

The ELCF prepares its students to a FLE Diploma, takes part in the Bachelor program of the Faculté des lettres through the discipline ‘Français langue étrangère’ and also offers a one-year program of didactic training for FLE teachers-to-be.

A service school in the University

The Ecole de langue et de civilisation françaises also fulfils missions for the whole academic community, notably the following :

  • it administrates the French exams for the admission of foreign non-French-speaking students to the University of Geneva ;
  • it offers a one-year intensive course to bring non-French-speaking students up to the required level of French (Année propédeutique);
  • it provides remedial French courses to non-French-speaking students of the various Faculties, Institutes and Schools in the University who encounter difficulties in oral or written comprehension or expression and who wish to broaden their cultural horizon or develop the specialized language of their field of study.

A school open on the wider community

The Ecole de langue et de civilisation françaises maintains exchanges and collaboration with the institutions of the Geneva canton responsible of and active in the field of second and foreign language teaching. It takes part in national and international networks regarding research activities and cultural networks, notably within the framework of the Francophonie.

The ELCF maintains regular contacts with the Schools of French Studies in the other French-speaking Swiss universities. In collaboration with the Faculté de psychologie et des sciences de l'éducation (FPSE), the ELCF offers a continuing education course for native and non-native teachers of French as a second language (suspended in 2006-07).

A school referring to a linguistic tradition

Through the tradition of linguists like Saussure and Bally, the ELCF fits in with a long tradition of teaching and analysis of language et forms of discourse. Its ties with the Département de linguistique are particularly close.


The ELCF offers the following regular courses of study :

Année propédeutique (AP) – 1 year

Preparatory intensive course designed to bring non-French-speaking students up to the required level in French. It is intended for students who wish to study in the Faculties, Schools and Institutes at the University of Geneva or preparing to enter the DEFLE course of study.

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Required level : B1, target level : B2.

Diplôme d’études de français langue étrangère  (DEFLE) – 2 to 4 semesters

Self-standing course combining in-depth study of the French language, thematic courses on French-language literature and civilisation with an introduction to the fields of French as a second language (linguistics, didactics).

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Required level : B2, target level : C1+.

Baccalauréat universitaire (Bachelor) en français langue étrangère (BAFLE) – 6 to 12 semesters

Discipline in the BA in the Faculté des lettres offering study of the French language from the points of view of usage, contact situations and acquisition ; open to both native and non-native speakers of French.

Maitrise universitaire (Master) en français langue étrangère (MAFLE) - 3 to 6 semesters

Discipline in the MA in the Faculté des lettres aiming at developing refined tools for the analysis of classroom interactions, acquisition and knowledge negotiation processes, major problems in FLE didactics and linguistic phenomena ; open to both native and non-native speakers of French.

Diplôme d’études spécialisées en didactique du français langue étrangère (DESFLE) – 1 year(DESFLE) – 1 year

Specialized training in FLE didactics, combining theory and practice ; open to both native and non-native speakers of French.

Moreover, the ELCF offers the following courses :

Cours d’appui de langue française 2 to 6 hours a week, lunchtime or evening classes

Intended for non-native speakers of French who study in one of the Faculties, Institutes or Schools in the University of Geneva and who wish to improve their competence in French.


The DEFLE guarantees both advanced practical language training and basic academic training. In certain countries or institutions, it can lead to teaching careers. Moreover, it constitutes a good basis for activities in intercultural or international contexts. It can also lead to further study towards a BA.

The BAFLE provides students with the basic tools for subsequent activities in the teaching of French to non-native speakers. It is an asset for many private institutions or bilingual schools. For teachers in the Geneva state schools, it can favourably combine with a teachable discipline and lead, for example, to work in special classes for migrant children. It is an asset for activities in the intercultural field and in international networks. Moreover, it offers all the prospects of a BA in Arts for careers in businesses, administration as well as for going on with further studies.

The DESFLE provides specific tools for the teaching of French to non-native speakers. It judiciously complements a university degree in Arts/languages, humanities, social sciences or educational sciences. It guarantees good basic theoretical training as well as supervision of practice.


Teachers at the ELCF lead personal research in the fields of linguistics, literature, French studies, plurilingualism and didactics. The ELCF is currently carrying out a research project as part of the Programme national de recherche 56 ‘Diversité des langues et compétences linguistiques en Suisse’ funded by the Fonds national suisse de la recherche scientifique. Its Director also represents the University of Geneva at the European Council for Languages and notably takes part in the Thematic Network Project in the Area of Languages III.


The ELCF applies the general University conditions for admission in conformity with art. 15 of the Règlement de l’Université (RU). For any information about the conditions for admission, please contact :

Service des admissions des étudiants - Université de Genève – UNI DUFOUR
24, rue Général-Dufour - 1211 Genève 4
Tél. 41-22-379.77.39 - Internet : admissions.unige.ch

Students are definitively admitted and placed in one of the courses of study after passing a French exam as defined by art. 16 al.5 of the RU. This exam consists in a general section and a section focusing on written production. Sample questions can be consulted at the secretariat (within opening hours) and on the website. A list of valid grounds for exemption from the general section of the exam is also available. When relevant, a copy of the diploma or of the certificate of success must be enclosed in the registration request. A SFr 100.- fee is collected for the admission exam.

The course fees are SFr 500.- per semester, to which must be added health and accident insurance.