Would you like to learn French in France? Then read on which level to choose, which French city you will love and how you prepare yourself best for your French course in France.
In this post you will learn:
- how to choose a French course that suits your needs
- where exactly to study French in France
- what questions you need to ask before enrolling in a French course.
Learning French in France is fun. Add to that the enormous amount of French you will learn in a very short tome by being immersed in French day in and day out.
Why following French courses in France
My friend Amy had studied French before, but not in France. She did her French studies in college a long time ago and had started to study again with various French books, tapes, software and Rocket French.
But she didn’t study as much as day-to-day things kept getting in her way. That all changed when she enrolled in a French language school.
That’s why you need to find a "Study French in France program": far away from home and from your daily chores so you can focus 24/7 on learning how to speak French.
Which French language school do you choose?
Once you decide to study French in France, the hardest part is deciding which program to enroll in and which French language school to enroll in. Numerous French courses are available in all parts of France.
You mainly need to decide if you want to:
- study French in a large city in France,
- learn French in a small town in France or
- take French lessons tucked away on the countryside in France.
Each offers distinct advantages:
- learning French in a city offers more choices in terms of cultural activities and restaurants.
- small towns provide a better opportunity to interact with French people and get a real feel for the local French culture.
- French language schools situated in the countryside normally provide the most opportunities for
outdoors activities and are ideal to combine with a French holiday.
Why are you learning French?
It is also important to consider why you want to study French and what you hope to gain from studying French in France.
There is a big difference between someone who has a professional need to study French and people who learns French to feel more comfortable when shopping and dining in restaurants when traveling through France.
Determining how much time you want to devote to your study French in France is also a factor.
French courses in France
The French courses in France tend to fall into three general categories:
- standard French course
- intensive French course
- immersion French course
1. Standard French courses
Standard French courses offer two to four hours of daily formal classroom instruction.
In the afternoons you are free to do as you like. Some French schools will plan activities for you for an additional fee.
2. Intensive French courses
Intensive French courses follow a curriculum similar to those in the standard French study programs in France program. However, they are supplemented by afternoon French classes that allow you to :
- improve your French conversational skills,
- acquire specific professional French vocabulary, or
- learn more about the French culture.
Both standard French course and intensive French course programs tend to group students by language ability through placement testing.
The quality and intensity of these French language tests varies:
- some French schools may ask you to complete the test (on the honor system) prior to arrival
- others French courses administer the test on the first day of the French class.
Before going to study French in France, try to understand what type of testing your French school offers:
- is it French vocabulary,
- French grammar, or
- French reading comprehension?
- Does the French assessment also include an evaluation of French speaking and French listening skills?
If you study French in France and after a class or two, you feel that you are over your head or totally bored, do request a change to another French course or level!
3. Immersion French courses
French immersion courses are exactly what the name implies. You are “immersed” in the French language continually during the day and evening.
A typical day consists of :
- French breakfast,
- instruction in French grammar and French comprehension,
- French lunch and
- an afternoon excursion in France.
During these French activities you participate in French conversation with the French instructors
and other students in French language. Your French pronunciation, French vocabulary, and French grammar will constantly be corrected.
Dinner typically concludes the day, although sometimes there is an evening activity like a French movie or French concert.
Your French instructors hope "that you go to sleep dreaming in the French language".
While exhausting, a French immersion program enables you to improve your French language skills rapidly, particularly in the area of French communication.
The downside of a French immersion program can be that the French learning experience is too intense and often stressful.
Immersion programs are not for the casual student but more for people who have a professional or personal need to speed their knowledge in the French language quickly.
A French immersion course is often based in the home of the French instructor(s). When this is not the case, French students are usually housed in a hotel nearby.
These language courses are normally limited to fewer than six students.
Some French schools will try to place French students in groups based on their French language levels, but many French schools do not. Why? Because a mixed group more realistically mirrors the real world, where you will encounter French people with different levels of ability and French regional accents.
Always check the size of your French class in advance!
Whichever type French learning program you choose, remember that the French class size is very important.
Experts agree that for French learning or for improving French language skills: six or fewer French students is ideal.
Before you spend your money learning French in France, do inquire as to what happens if there are only one or two French students of a particular level. Many French schools will then reduce the number of French class hours (but not the French tuition) proportionately:
Your 3-hour French class based on six students could turn into an hour and a half French class if only you and one other student are present.
Housing when learning French in France
Most French language courses in France will help arrange housing for you. Housing options can range from:
- staying in a French hotel,
- staying in a studio apartment in a French student residence or
- boarding with a French family.
The location of your accommodation is important. You do not want to spend a large part of day traveling to and from your French school.
One French school in Paris offered a boarding situation that required three changes of Metro lines and was barely within the city limits. Although interesting to improve your French skills in using the metro, you don’t go to France to learn how to ride their public transport!
Do inform yourself about your accommodation in advance when you want to learn French in France.
Learn French in France speaking countries
What is similar to learning French in France but outside of France? Maybe you live close by one of the following countries where French is widely spoken?
There are many excellent French programs in Switzerland, Belgium and Canada: all countries where one of the national languages is the French language.
Learn French in France summarized
- know why you want to learn French in order to choose for:
- location (cultural city vs small town with lots of people interacting with you)
- what kind of French course you want to follow (immersion, intensive, standard language course)
- ask in advance:
- how far is your accommodation located from your French school?
- what happens if there are only 1 or 2 students enrolled in the French class?
And ask yourself whether it wouldn’t be easier and cheaper to study French in other countries than France like Belgium or Canada.