So you’ve made it to France and embarked on your French lifestyle dream – bravo!
Since an important key to successful renesting is getting comfortable with the language, one of your next steps will be to improve your French. Trust us, everything is easier when you understand what is happening around you and can express yourself. Some may say that enough people speak English that you don’t need to learn French to get by. And while that may be true in many places, your experience will be fuller and more enriching the better you can communicate in French.
Do you already have a few basics, or are you a complete beginner? Maybe you’re almost fluent and just need to brush up a little. In this blog article we’ll be looking at how and where you can learn French in France, whatever your level.
There are so many different ways to learn languages nowadays, the trick to success is to find out which learning method will suit your personality, way of learning and your language needs.
After a short time in France, you will be able to determine what you need to work on most : is it vocabulary and grammar that’s lacking? Or maybe you need to refresh your reading and listening comprehension skills? Or is it the speaking which is the biggest challenge for you?
Identifying the language skills that need the most work can also point the way toward the best learning method for you.
Learning the classical way through books and language class
If you have a classic, scholarly learning style and are most at ease with books, textbooks or course books, then you will probably find that a French language class will work best for you.
Group lessons and/or individual lessons can be taken in language schools (Centre de formation, École de langues, Institut linguistique) and what you are looking for is F.L.E. (Français Langue Etrangère or French as a foreign language) lessons.
The cost can vary but expect to pay between 60€ and 85€ per hour depending on the school and their price packages.
Many towns also have subsidised centres or associations where you can take group classes for a yearly subscription fee. Check out your local mairie (town hall) website for a list of associations. This can be a cheaper option, although class sizes may be bigger with mixed ability. Expect to pay between 10-15€ per hour.
Learning French with private lessons
If you prefer a more informal approach, don’t care for classroom settings, or if you are shy, private lessons (cours particuliers) may be the best for you.. Many private tutors give one-to-one lessons at their home or may come round to your place. New, widely available technology and the Covid pandemic also mean that video lessons have really taken off and are still going strong. You can find teachers who give lessons over Skype or Zoom for example. Once again, prices can vary for private lessons but expect to pay between 20€ and 50€ an hour depending on the content of lessons, the experience of the teacher, and if they travel to your home. As well as forcing you to participate more, having a private tutor can really help you to progress quickly and boost your confidence.
Renestance may be able to provide a reference, or you can find private tutors by word of mouth, or by checking small ads in local shops, local Facebook groups, or specialised sites such as Super Prof.
Learning French online
For those of you who are tech-savvy and self-motivated, you may wish to learn French using modern technology. We have so many applications at our fingertips now, the possibilities are endless. Far from the classroom or even your desk, now you can learn French on the move with your mobile phone. Here are just a few ideas:
Try downloading language learning applications such as Duolingo to help you learn French vocabulary and grammar, but also practice listening and reading comprehension. The advantage of Duolingo is that there is a free version available which will allow you to see if it’s a solution that can work for you.
Other possibilities with your mobile phone include listening to French language learning podcasts: try Spotify for example where you can download podcasts, or listen to them while you’re out and about. Also make sure that you download a good dictionary onto your mobile phone for example Word Reference, and try to avoid Google Translations which translate expressions word for word and can come up with some very questionable translations!
Your language learning experience must be enjoyable if it’s to be effective, because you won’t stick with it if there’s friction. So try to integrate language learning into your everyday activities and hobbies, and take every opportunity to improve your language skills. Practice every day and everywhere you can: the local bakery and café are the perfect places for chatting with locals and trying out your new French skills and vocabulary.
Immersion Learning in real life
Another excellent way to get fluent is to put yourself in situations where French is spoken by pursuing your interests. Are you a fan of football or a dance fanatic? Try signing up to a local amateur football team or enroll yourself into a dance class! It will be difficult at first but by pushing yourself out of your comfort zone you will amaze yourself by your achievements.
Film buffs and TV fans, try watching your favourite films or TV series in French, and start with something you already know so that you’re not lost. Insider tip: putting the French subtitles, for the hearing impaired, allows you to see/read the words you’re hearing.
Need help to learn French?
Do you need help identifying your learning style and language needs? Contact Renestance for a French language evaluation and report, including local contacts and more tips for progressing.
Learning a new language is a real challenge; it will take time, effort and practice but you will feel such a sense of achievement when you’re able to understand, respond and communicate.
Don’t give up – you will get there! Bonne chance!
We hope that you found this article useful. Let us know how you are getting on with your French language journey in the comments section below!
Come back soon and check out our next article about French language!
Born and raised in the UK, I’ve always had a passion for languages and for travelling. And ever since coming to France on family holidays as a child, I dreamed of living in France. So i chose to study languages (French, German then Spanish), and during my degree, I came to nîmes for a year and fell in love with the region. What is there not to love?! The beautiful roman monuments, the warm sunny weather, the beautiful beaches in nearby camargue and laid-back café culture, not to mention of course the fantastic food and wine, to name but a few things. After graduating in 2000, I moved straight back to nîmes and have been living here ever since! I married a French man and we have two perfectly bilingual children. During this time I have had lots of experience navigating French administration and its challenges! Among other things, obtaining my carte de séjour, carte vitale and changing my driving licence for a French one. I have also had personal experience of the French property market as I’ve bought, sold and renovated houses, and I currently rent flats out on short-term and long-term lets. I have experienced the French education system both as a parent and as a teacher. I’ve been teaching English to adults, students and children for over seven years. Previously, I also worked as a bilingual PA and bilingual project manager, as well as in translation and proofreading, purchasing and import, honing many skills along the way. I am delighted to share all my experience and knowledge of life in France and help out other English speakers arriving in France to live out the French dream!
All articles by: Liz Lefranc