Uni abbreviations/acronyms in French
So the French like their acronyms. A lot. It’s one of the biggest things I noticed in my very first meeting at the university, as I was noting down strings of letters I didn’t understand to go look up later. I figured I may as well be a good language blog and actually make a list of them, many of which, if you come to France to live, work, or especially study (like on an exchange or whatever), you will almost certainly come across in everyday conversations. You don’t necessarily need to know what they all stand for - I’m not convinced even native French speakers could immediately give you all of them without hesitating - but if you know what they mean you can use them the same as everyone else. Enjoy ^^
- (la) fac - la faculté - used for university in the same way we’d shorten it to “uni”. Je suis à la fac = I’m at uni.
- UFR - Unité de Formation et de Recherche - used basically to mean “department”. L’UFR d’anglais = the English department.
- LEA - Langues étrangères appliquées - a degree in foreign languages, normally two, with an aim of being more ‘practical’ (“applied”). Je suis en LEA anglais/espagnol = I’m doing a joint English/Spanish degree.
- LLCE - Langues, littératures et civilisations étrangères - a degree in which you study just one foreign language but more in depth. It involves more literature, history and cultural stuff than an LEA and often leads to teaching.
- L1, L2, L3, M1, M2 - used to indicate what year you’re in. L for licence (Bachelor’s), M for master. Je suis en L1 anglais = I’m in my first year of English.
(NB - many subjects would also be abbreviated, eg philo (-sophie), psycho (-logie), histoire-géo (-raphie))
- BTS - Brevet de Technicien Supérieur - another form of higher study other than university, more vocational… (I’ve not a lot of info on this one tbh)
- SHS - Sciences humaines et sociales - social studies/sociology.
- Bac - (le) Baccalauréat - the final exam at the end of high school that you’d take when you’re 18 normally. There are different ‘branches’ you can choose - L (littéraire / literary), S (scientifique / science), ES (économique et social / economy and social studies). If someone says something like j’ai (fait) un bac L it means they did more literature/language/philosophy classes at school, whereas j’ai (fait) un bac S would be more science based etc.
- Bac+3, Bac+5 etc - higher education is always measured against the baccalauréat, with the + meaning the number of extra years. So a bac+3 is a licence/Bachelor’s because it’s 3 more years of study after high school. A bac+5 would be a masters, and a bac+7/+8/beyond would be a doctorate.
- LMD - licence, master (maîtrise in some places), doctorat - the normal university levels/stages of Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctorate.
- TD - (un) travail dirigé - small classes, seminars, more interactive, more exercises.
- TP - (un) travail pratique - small classes, more ‘practical’, in a language context it’s in language labs with headphones etc.
- CM - (un) cours magistral - lectures, big classes, less interactive
- ECTS - European Credit Transfer System - a standardised credit system across a lot of Europe. Normally it’s 60 credits to pass a year.
- CC - contrôle continu - continuous assessment, grades every week, participation grades, several small tests etc.
- CT - contrôle terminal - grade comes from one all-encompassing final assessment. It’s often something you’d have to apply for, justifying why you can’t come to classes or do CC. J’aimerais passer en CT = I’d like to switch to final assessment.
- DST - (un) devoir sur table - an in-class exam/test. J’ai un DST d’anglais demain matin = I have an English exam tomorrow morning.
- QCM - questionnaire / questions à choix multiple - multiple choice questions.
- BU - (la) bibliothèque universitaire - university/school library. Je t’attends à la BU = I’m waiting for you at the library.
- ATER - (un) Attaché Temporaire d’Enseignement et de Recherche - normally someone who teaches while researching/writing a thesis.
- PRAG (pronounced as a word) - (un) Professeur Agrégé - a professor who has some kind of admin responsibilities too… gotta admit I’m not sure on this one either!
- amphi - (un) amphithéâtre - lecture hall.
- Repro - (la) reprographie - printing/photocopying service.
- CAPES (pronounced like capès, with the s) - Certificat d'Aptitude au Professorat de l'Enseignement Secondaire - the competitive exam that allows you to become a teacher. You’d take le CAPES d’anglais to become an English teacher, le CAPES de français to become a French teacher etc
- Cité U - (la) cité universitaire - university residence/halls.
- CROUS (pronounced as a word) - (le) Centre Régional des Oeuvres Universitaires et Scolaires - the organisation that manages student services, bursaries, and accommodation France-wide.
- ENT - (un) Environnement (ou espace) Numérique de Travail - the intranet, moodle, etc.
- FLE - Français (comme) langue étrangère - French as a second/foreign language.
- TOEFL/TOEIC (pronounced as words) - Test of English as a Foreign Language / Test of English for International Communication - two of the biggest/most widespread/most recognised English proficiency exams.
- CDD - (un) contrat à durée déterminée - a fixed term contract.
- CDI - (un) contrat à durée indéterminée - a permanent contract (le rêve de tous les jeunes quoi).
- brut - before tax - un salaire brut is what your employer pays for you.
- net - after tax - un salaire net is what you actually take home at the end of the month.
- sécu - (la) sécurité sociale - social security, health insurance etc. Le numéro de sécu is a social security number.
- CAF (pronounced as a word) - (la) caisse d’allocations familiales - the organisation that manages benefits/social welfare.
Where I’ve put an article in brackets, you’d use that article before the acronym, e.g. la CAF, le CROUS, le DST, for some things you’d mostly use en with no article, e.g. en L1, en LEA, en CT