How to Learn French Language in France


What are some ways to learn French language in France?

How to learn French language in France is through immersion. One of the best ways to learn a new language is to go on a travel adventure to the country of the language you want to learn. The reason is because you will be integrating your daily life with the language learning.

In my case I wanted to learn French. I had only taken 2 years of German in High School. And that didn’t necessarily make me fluent in German even when I visited Austria or Germany. But as an adult I wanted to take up French because I traveled to France so many times. How to learn the french language in France was becoming a new focus for me.

So in 2010 I decided to enroll my family in a French language school in Perpignan, France. Perpignan is in the south of France, in the Catalonia region near the border of Spain. My daughter was 16 at the time and had already been taking French in her school back home. My husband and I never took any French language courses other than a Pimsleur CD audio course I purchased to listen to while we drove around town.

We went to the ALFMED school for 2 weeks. Our teacher, Natalie, was wonderful and quite experienced in teaching French. She gave us daily 1-hour lessons to learn. Our lessons were supplemented with city excursions to local historical sites. We made friends with a lot of our classmates, some we are still friends with to this day. It was an enriching experience and totally worth the cost!

But I still couldn’t speak French as I had no one back home to practice speaking it with in their native tongue. I then took 2 semesters of an online French language course at my local community college. The accompanying book with its CD was helpful at least for the first semester of learning the basics like the alphabet. By the second semester my mind was a bit boggled with learning how the French speak their numbering system. For example you learn that the 70’s require you to think to say how they think they speak it. (Boggled yet?) 70 is 60 + 10. 70 is pronounced soixante-dix (60+10). 80 is pronounced quatre-vingts or 4 x 20. 90 is pronounced quatre-vingt-dix or 4 x 20 +10. The next time I went to France I still couldn’t count my change or pay the bill but I knew I had to do something.

I looked into Alliance Francaise next. There was a local office in my hometown. But that got me to consider looking into Alliance Francaise in Paris since I was making so many yearly trips to Paris. In November 2014 I enrolled for 6 private one-on-one lessons at AF Paris. Admittedly I was a bit intimidated to join a full class at first. My teacher said I had a basic understanding of French and my accent was good. She encouraged me to join an A1 level (not complete beginner) course in progress. There were 10 students in class ranging from age 16 to 75. From Colombia, Spain, Iraq, Russia, USA, Brazil, Iran. It was quite diverse which I think made it so interesting. Yet we were all helping each other as we stumbled upon words and phrases. AF teachers only speak in French. You have to start learning right away. It is language learning through immersion – not only in class – but as soon as you walk out on the street and go to catch the bus or grab a bite to eat you start practicing your basic French right away.

There are a lot of different French language learning schools in France. Ideally you look for ones that are FLE certified. The Sorbonne University offers a French language course with French civilization culture history.

Keep in mind that if you are a U.S. citizen you can only be in France (or other European countries) for up to 90 days without a visa. If you plan on staying longer you have to apply for a visa. But to enroll in a French language course for several months or up to a year requires you first go to CampusFrance and apply. Once you are approved your next step is to apply for the visa at your nearest consulate. You cannot apply for the visa more than 3 months out and you can’t apply until you have enrolled and paid for the course at a school in France. And your school course must be full-time from 20-25 hours per week for more than 3 months.

Once you have the student visa and you travel to France you have to register your visa at an OFII office in France within a week of your arrival. This makes everything official and it also allows you to work up to 20 hours a week should you desire to do so. But you will be so busy with a full-time 20-25 hours a week school schedule you won’t have much time for anything else save for socializing.

As a follow-up to my efforts at learning the French language while in France I downloaded a cool app that I found helps keep me practicing. It is the Michel Thomas French language course. There are several other French language apps that help you learn on the fly. I recommend try out as many as you can to find the one that suits your learning needs best.

Bonne chance d’apprendre la langue française!

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