A guide to learning French in France
Here is our guide to language schools in France, along with an overview of the best online and computer courses for learning French.
Being an expat in France is not an easy task. If you think your English will be useful, you are most probably mistaken. People in France are understandably keen on their own language so if you want to be accepted there, do not while away your days looking at the Eifel Tower -- start learning some French.
National language schools in France
The well-known institution Alliance Francaise has branches almost anywhere, both in France and around the world. It is dedicated to promoting French worldwide: classes, cultural activities, and French certification. Classes cover all levels of French learning, from complete beginner (level A1) to autonomous (level C1). Intensive, extensive and evening classes are offered. They offer different packages with which you can combine your general French class with any of our other classes (workshops, personalised packages etc) during the same period, building a French training course adapted to your needs, availability and objectives.
Cost: Intensive general French course comprising 20 hours per week in a larger class (12+ students) costs EUR 206.
Contact details: (E) firstname.lastname@example.org | www.alliancefr.org
The international language school has 28 centres across France in all major cities. Teaching can be done privately or in groups and Berlitz teachers can even come to your offices Courses prices vary depending on the language being studied.
Cost: Upon request.
Contact details: www.berlitz.fr
With six schools around the country, France Langue provides lessons for all levels of general French and specialised French (e.g. business, legal, medical), courses for French teachers, and exam preparation (TEF, DELF, TCF). All French teachers hold a university degree and/or a recognised language teaching qualification. The school also has accreditations with FFL Campus France, IALC (International Association of Language Centres), CSN (accreditation by Northern European countries) and Universite Paris Sorbonne.
Locations: Biarritz, Bordeaux, Nice and Paris
Cost: The fundamental 20-hour per week course with up to 12 students costs EUR 230 per week in the Paris location.
Contact details: www.france-langue.fr
Language schools in Paris
Accord Ecole de langue
This French language school has three locations in Paris offering intensive French programs, work experience opportunities, and cultural training. The school is accredited by CSN and Bildungsurlaub in Germany. The school is also a member of Souffle, a professional organisation for quality language training centres teaching French as a foreign language; and Elite (European Federations of Associations for Teaching of Mother Tongues to Foreigners).
Cost: Intensive general French course comprising 20 hours per week in a class of up to 14 students costs EUR 300 (prices are lower for longer courses).
Contact details: 14 boulevard Poissonnière, 75009 Paris
(T): +33 1 55 33 52 33
Elika Language Training
This specialised language school offers customised instruction to fit the individual needs of students including: beginners, advanced, university students, businesspeople and French for law. The school offers personalised packages, ranging from individual French lessons to full immersion programs. Students may choose how they want to learn – a duo lesson or a private lesson – or even a little of each.
Cost: Courses are charged on hourly basis. The equivalent of a 20-hour per week course in a class of up to 4 students will cost EUR 240.
Contact details: Ophira I, 1 place Bermond, 06560 Valbonne Sophia Antipolis
(T): + 33 (0) 661 143 565
Learning French in Lyon
Lyon Bleu International
The school seeks to provide a quality alternative to larger, more traditional academic structures for French language courses. The focus is on active and modern teaching methods for French language with materials based on practice and communication. It also offers customised classes to learn French, made to measure by the teachers and the director of studies, adapted and updated each week according to the needs of the groups. The school is a French professional training organisation certified by the French government. The French language programmes are officially certified by the CNS programme of the Swedish Government and by the main German Länder for Bildungsurlaub. The school is also a member of the FLE and IALC.
Cost: The General Intensive French course comprising 25 lessons (45 mins each) per week is EUR 215 per week.
Contact details: 82 rue Duguesclin, 69006 Lyon
(T): +33 (0) 437 480 026
Language schools in Marseille
Easy French Learning Institute
This school teaches small classes and provides tailor-made course programs, delivered by experienced French teachers. The French language training courses aim to provide you with the ability to: Interact more confidently when visiting French-speaking countries or dealing with French-speaking nationals. Additionally it will help you to build and strengthen relationships with French-speaking friends, colleagues or clients through a show of interest in the French language and culture.
Cost: The standard 15-lesson per week course with up to 4 students is EUR 440.
Contact details: 4, cours Belsunce, 13001 Marseille
(T): +33 (0) 491 914 125
Montpellier language schools
Accent Français has been awarded the Ministry's seal of quality ("Label Qualité Français Langue Etrangère") for the quality of its teachers and courses. Their learning method reflects the official progression of the Common European Framework of Reference (European passport). The method strives for the development of the communication and use of the French language to provide you with the means of using the language in real-life situations. Every day, students will tackle a new "savoir-faire": asking questions, giving opinions, talking about one's likings, telephoning, talking about one's plans, etc. In order to achieve the above, students cover the 4 language skills (speaking, writing, listening and reading) each morning. The school uses its own teaching method compiled from various methods of instruction, which the teachers adapt every week according to the profiles of the students in their respective groups.
Cost: General French course comprising 20 lessons per week costs EUR 220 (maximum of 10 students).
Contact details: 2 rue de Verdun, 34000 Montpellier
(T): +33 (0) 467 58 12 68
Language courses in Nice
FLE Accredited, the school approaches the French language from a practical perspective. It sees its purpose as to allow you to acquire varied knowledge while rapidly developing your communication skills in French. Favouring scenarios of real life and based on a large number of teaching materials (authentic documents, records video, audio, comics, articles press clips and French songs, movie clips and French novels), their teaching method aims to stimulates your desire to continuously learn and express yourself. Teachers are native French speakers. All university graduates, they seek to improve your French language skills and provide you with assistance throughout your stay. A professor specialising in the latest technology is available to help you choose subjects that correspond to your level and you can learn about useful websites.
Cost: Standard 20-lesson per week course cost EUR 247 in 2012.
Contact details: 47 rue Herold, 06000 Nice
(T): +33 (0) 4 97 03 07 00
French online and computer courses
Most companies to have the best programme out there to learn Spanish quickly and retain everything. However, since everyone learns differently, explore the teaching style used by the programme before you buy. Here are a few good language software titles.
- Tell Me More French
- Fluenz French
- Rosetta Stone French
- Berlitz French Premier
- Instant Immersion French
- French Learning Suite
- Living Language Platinum
- Hello-Hello World
- Pimsleur Comprehensive
- Transparent Language
Remember: Some of these titles are pretty costly, ranging from EUR 32 all the way to EUR 150.
Almost anything you can buy can be found on the Internet for free, so don’t be afraid to look around.
The BBC actually has a very innovative product that also includes audio files, a very valuable asset when trying to learn a language. Another great resource is Radio Lingua Network (www.radiolingua.com), which offers short audio language tutorials, downloadable as podcasts.
You may also want to buy pocket phrasebooks that will help you get around in the day-to-day grind. They won’t be great at in-depth grammar usage and explanations but they will definitely have useful phrases. It would also be good to have an electronic translator to carry around just in case – Google Translate is quite a useful free app that will often give you an audio as well as written translation.
Want a local opinion? Ask experienced expats on Expatica's forums for advice.