Languages Online

Montana State University - Northern

General Information



German will not be offered during the 2004-2005 school year.



General Information

Welcome to languages online at Montana State University - Northern.  I am Dave Westenskow, and I will be guiding you through your French  studies this semester.  Who am I? And why am I offering these courses online instead of in a regular classroom setting?

I retired in July, 2001, after teaching languages at Northern for 35 years, and now live in Denver. Due to severe budgetary constraints at Northern, the decision was made not to replace me with a full-time faculty member.  The school hired a part-time Spanish instructor but no one for French and German.  Because I had been preparing online materials for my classes during my last few years at Northern and because I have a little time on my hands, I arranged  to continue the French and German classes over the Internet.  German, however, will not be offered during the 2004-2005 school year.

I won't try to fool you.  This is not the best way to study a foreign language. I would certainly prefer to work with my students in person.  I do not claim that I will or can adequately replace a "live" classroom.   However, the live classroom option is not currently available in French  to students at MSU-Northern, and it is my hope that my online course will provide a suitable alternative for those desiring instruction in that languages.

Language courses traditionally emphasize the four communication skills: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.  Obviously, we can handle the reading and writing part rather easily in an online course.  The listening and speaking will be more difficult, but I will provide audio materials for you to listen to.  Those students on campus can also get together occasionally to practice their French or German with each other.  But, again, let me stress that with the technology currently available to me, and probably to you, there is just no way that we can duplicate the conversational practice that should take  place in a live classroom.   If you need a conversational emphasis or if you plan to transfer to a program with a conversational emphasis, I would suggest that these may not be the  courses for you.  A lot will depend on how highly motivated you are and to what degree you take advantage of the conversational opportunities you do have.

This is not to say that you won't learn to understand and speak quite a bit of French.  You will.  You just won't have the same opportunities to interact with your professor and your fellow students in active conversation that you would have being in a classroom four or five hours a week.

There will be advantages and disadvantages to an online course.  Aside from enjoying a certain flexibility in your schedule, you will probably receive more personal attention than in many of your  traditional courses. My online courses will be essentially one-on-one tutorials with each of you submitting homework electronically.  You won't be able to "hide" in a large group, and I will very rapidly be aware of any problems that you are having.  If we handle it right, your online course can be a high quality educational experience.

On the other hand, you will have to assume greater responsibility for your own learning in an online course.  Instead of sitting in a classroom and having everything explained, you will have to discipline yourselves to work through the materials I provide.  The time that you would normally spend in the classroom will have to be spent working on studying lessons, doing homework, etc.  The "rule of thumb" for university classes is to spend two hours studying outside of class for every hour in class.  Because you won't be in a classroom, I will expect you to spend about twelve hours a week doing assignments and preparing for exams. Depending on the grade you desire, some of you might need to work more.  "Cramming" is not an effective learning tool, especially in languages, so I will try to keep you working on a daily basis by giving you a series of short assignments to be submitted at regular intervals.

You will find the French course syllabus at .

I will provide a study guide for each lesson. These study guides, which I call Plans contain explanations, English equivalents, answers to exercises, etc.  These Plans are found online at

Not all pages will be available at all times, however.  Pages are frequently under construction or revision and "official" pages will generally  be made available only when they are needed by the classes. 

Information on homework assignments and exams will be provided throughout the semester.

Since we will be doing most of the course work with e-mail, I will need to have e-mail addresses for everyone at the beginning of the course.  Please send these to me at .

I have also established e-mail accounts for the class at   

I will use this account for my group mailing list, and you will submit your homework to this address.

I'm sure that this brief introduction doesn't begin to answer all of your questions.  Please contact me for additional information at .

Hope to hear from you soon.

Dave W.




The French Pages


FREN 105 Course Syllabus

The Plans

Schedule - First Semester

Useful Pages



The German Pages

(not offered 2004-2005)

GER 105 Course Syllabus  

The Plans

Schedule - First Semester

Useful Pages