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Language Schools for Expats in France

Submitted: October 2013

For those who are not content with merely getting by and having to rely on the kindness of strangers in navigating your new life in France due to the language barrier, the option of attending a language school in order to formally learn French is an attractive option.

The government of France has implemented a system of regulating the quality of instruction, teachers and management in language schools. Schools are able to obtain what is referred to as Qualité FLE (Français langue étrangère or French as a foreign language certification).  This label is issued by the Ministry of Foreign and European Affairs, the Ministry of Higher Education and Research and the Ministry of Culture and Communication. Centres which have obtained this label are generally regarded as being of a higher standard, therefore it is recommended that when you are selecting a language school that you ensure that your school is certified Qualité FLE.

For the 2013 up-to-date list of institutions which have been so accredited please refer to the following link: https://www.ciep.fr/qualitefle/docs/liste-des-centres-labellises.pdf. You can also use the official directory in order to tailor your search to your needs: https://www.fle.fr/fr/grand-repertoire/recherche or https://www.qualitefle.fr/en.  

It is important to note that some of these institutions, such as Alliance Françiase for example, may have locations in your home country should wish to commence your French instruction before you arrival.

These schools are not only geared towards beginners or intermediates but courses are also available for persons who are seeking to perfect their French language skills.

There is a wide array of programmes offered for professional adults, the casual learner, those seeking the necessary qualification for their studies and even children. Another great feature of many language schools are courses which are tailored to your particular field such as business or law. It should be noted that many language schools also offer instruction in other European languages such as English or Spanish, should you so require.

Programmes at these schools range in length but on average they may be two to eight weeks. You may feel more suited towards an immersion programme, which may be shorter but is quite intensive or you may prefer a longer programme especially if you have other commitments. It is recommended that you carefully select an option that is more conducive to your lifestyle in order to maximise the benefit.

Parents should also be aware that many language schools offer summer programmes for children, which include a range of in class and out of class activities that are geared towards making the study of French an enjoyable experience for your child.

Another factor that should be considered when selecting a language school is your learning style. You may feel more comfortable being taught on a one on one basis or you may thrive in a classroom style setting. The former option can be more expensive but you should make your choice based on your strengths. Nevertheless, you should make enquiries from your potential school about issues such as student/teacher ratio, size of the class, general aptitude of students to name a few.

The costs of these programmes vary according to numerous factors such as the course, length, accommodation, skill level, and means of instructions amongst others. On average prices can range from €200 to €4,000. For an example of a pricing list at a Qualité FLE language school, please refer to the following links: https://www.ila-france.com/french-course-prices-dates.html or https://en.alfmed.com/articles-2/14-287-program-fees-2013-2014/.

Many language schools aid their prospective students in finding accommodation, as you may notice while searching the above mentioned directories. There is a wide range of options with regards to accommodation, which include staying with a host family in order to fully immerse yourself in the French culture.

For a helpful resource in locating language schools to meet your requirements please refer to the following link: https://www.europa-pages.co.uk/france.

If you are eager to begin learning French before your arrival, you can benefit from the wealth of online resources in French instruction. One such resource is found in the BBC’s language section. It includes an online tutorial programme called “Ma France” as well as a number of casual activities for beginners and children. Activities such as these are highly recommended and you can even take a French aptitude test to gauge your skill level. Please refer to this resource at the following link:

As with most activities, learning a new language takes time and while you should monitor your progress at these institutions, do not expect a level of fluency to rival Voltaire or even Gérard Depardieu to develop overnight.



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