Any tips for vacation French immersion courses overseas?
April 27, 2011 6:41 AM   Subscribe

Anyone have any tips or recommendations for French-language learning vacations?

I have a few weeks off from work coming up this summer and am interested in the idea of attending a French-language immersion learning course in France, Quebec or Belgium during some of that time. Does anyone have any recommendations or tips on places or resources? Are there any that offer lodging/etc?

A bit about me: I'm 30 and an intermediate (VERY intermediate) level French learner. Would prefer to find a place where there are others in my general age group as well. Thanks!
posted by huskerdont to Education (4 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
The one thing that I would say is: go to a small town.

I learned Spanish years ago - and did several language immersion trips. Going to Madrid was an amazing experience, because it is such an awesome city. But it was not so great for language immersion.

But in terms of learning the language, going to small villages in Andulucia and Honduras was much better. In a village, you are much less likely to find people who speak English, less English media. If you go to Paris, you will inevitable encounter the community of American and English ex-pats living there. Also, village life is slower pace - people are more willing to talk to you. Big cities are too busy to help you learn the language.
posted by Flood at 6:54 AM on April 27, 2011 [1 favorite]

I did a summer at ELFCA in Hyeres, France on the Cote d'Azur in 2006. Most people were college age, but there were many people who were older and working professionals. Hyeres is a small town where almost no one spoke any English, and the classes at ELFCA were fantastic. It was the "sink or swim" kind of language immersion classes--my teachers spoke almost no English and there were students in my class who were also not native English speakers--but I still managed to learn so much even though I hadn't taken a french class in years prior.

They offer homestay accommodations or renting an apartment--most people did the homestay, including myself. I stayed with a grandma who lived alone and liked the company--she was great. I had a key to her house and came and went as I wanted, she spoke no English so I was forced to speak French constantly.

Hyeres is a small town, but it's got a medieval castle and amazing beaches and is a train ride away from lots of cities in Provence. I can't say enough nice things about how amazing the program and Hyeres is--feel free to MeMail me if you want!
posted by inertia at 7:22 AM on April 27, 2011 [2 favorites]

I spent a month at the Institute Francais at Villefranche-sur-Mer near Nice. In some ways their methods are a little old fashioned - but their teachers were very good and they have a track record of teaching intensive French that stretches back to the late 60s. The majority of students are above normal student age (average age probably about yours). The emphasis is heavily on being able to speak and understand everyday French - rather than on reading or writing.
posted by rongorongo at 7:44 AM on April 27, 2011

I loved this one when I attended it. Worryingly, this was almost 20 years ago so I can't attest to the quality now. I attended their summer intensive program there and lived with a host family. From a language learning perspective, Chicoutimi, the town where they're based is quite separatist and speaking English is generally discouraged, in a more-or-less friendly manner. A friend of mine did the program run in Montreal and, apparently, the problem with that she never got a chance to practice as most people insisted on speaking to her in English when she tried her French. At the end of the 6 week program, I was thinking in (broken) French rather than thinking in English and then translating to French. Now, almost 20 years later, I've retained most of those conversational skills even with very very limited opportunities to practice.
posted by apcmwh at 1:48 PM on April 28, 2011

« Older Language Geekery: Slavic Edition   |   Bunting is not enough! Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.