Société Honoraire de Français
What is the history of the Société Honoraire de Français?
The AATF was founded in the state of New York in 1927, the last of the major language associations to be founded. Charles A. Downer, the first president of the association, states in the very first issue of the French Review that that purpose of the AATF was devoted to “…the maintenance of the highest standards of culture among the teachers, to the study and application of the best methods of instructions, the pursuit of the best conditions for teaching and the creation of the spirit of solidarity and mutual helpfulness without which these aims cannot be realized (Vol. 1, November 1927, p. 5).”
The AATF was incorporated in 1936 and, after many years in New York, moved to the University of Illinois under two Executive Directors, Frank Nachtmann and Fred Jenkins, where it was housed for more than 30 years. In 1997, the association moved to Southern Illinois University when Jayne Abrate took over as Executive Director, and in 2015, they moved to their own building in Marion, IL.
Under the leadership of many visionary presidents and dedicated Executive Council members, the AATF has continued to publish the French Review, created the National Bulletin in the 1970s, organized an annual convention, launched the National French Contest and the Société Honoraire de Français, welcomed many honorary members, began National French Week, and continues to promote publications and projects which support the teaching of French at all levels. The AATF currently has 70 active chapters across the U.S., divided into 9 regions.
What are the requirements to be in the Société Honoraire de Français?
Invitation to membership shall be restricted to those students actively engaged in the study of French in a secondary school when appropriate courses are available or when outside courses become part of the student’s secondary transcript, credits and grade point.
- Candidates must be enrolled in the fourth semester of French or higher, i.e., the second semester of Level II or the equivalent
- Candidates must be in the 10th, 11th or 12th grade of high school. Exception is made for 9th grade students who meet requirement "1" above because of work at the middle school or junior high level
- Transfer students must have spent at least one full semester in the high school before becoming eligible for invitation to membership.
Scholastic Eligibility Requirements to be met by all students:
- Candidates must have maintained an A- (90) average or higher in French throughout their secondary school study of French, including the semester of selection and all previous work awarded secondary school credit.
- Candidates must have maintained a B- (80) average or higher in all other secondary school subjects prior to the semester of selection.
What are the key benefits of being a member of the Société Honoraire de Français?
La Société Honoraire de Français recognizes outstanding scholarship in the study of French language. The chapter provides a vehicle for focusing activities around French language and culture.
Members demonstrate citizenship through service learning and benefit from myriad chapter benefits such as participation in the annual writing contest as well as apply for the annual travel grants. Furthermore, officers develop their leadership skills through organizing and running the year’s events.
Members receive a special certificate and seal and an official pin of the honor society; in addition, graduates have the option of wearing of a tri-colored cord or stole at graduation.
Based on the information, here is our review:
Our first observation is: that the location for headquarters moved three times, though it appears HQ has found a permanent home in Marion, IL.
Our second observation was: that this society has grade requirements for students in both the field of French as well as general standards for membership, which is unique.
Our third observation was: that this society typically only accepts members from grades 10 and above, but exceptions can be made for high achieving 9th graders based on their middle school grades.