C'est vrai, I want to speak French!
March 26, 2008 11:26 PM   Subscribe

Where can I go for 2 to 4 weeks this summer to learn French that includes housing? Immersion programs would be perfect.

I am in the United States and am a begginer. Conversational French is what I would like to focus on, but I would not mind reading/writing as well. I would love an immersion program. I am 21 and a college student, my school doesn't offer any intensive language programs.
posted by thebrokenmuse to Writing & Language (12 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
try these guys...
posted by dawdle at 12:36 AM on March 27, 2008

although there are many options /schools for this type of thing I recommend you stay away from montreal as there is so much english there you won't be forced to learn...
posted by dawdle at 12:38 AM on March 27, 2008

I disagree with Dawdle -- it's totally possible (and normal) to speak French here 100% of the time. You just have to have a bit more discipline because you can slip into English a lot (but not all) of the time if you're not watching. But, if you're into going somewhere that you won't ever be speaking English, this would be a place to go. Srsly.

l'université de Montreal has a great program. (I have taken courses there, though I haven't lived in their residences.)

I would personally be inclined to avoid private schools (such as Amerispan). They're usually much more expensive and less grounded in the place they're located. There are lots of very good public, government-funded institutions in Quebec if you're interested in coming here. (The distinctions between public + private, college + university are different in Canada than in the US. But essentially I'm recommending universities or public colleges aka "cégep". I hope that's not confusing.) But it's up to you, as long as they're accredited you should be okay.

Langcanada.ca: universities | colleges
Department of Canadian Heritage
posted by loiseau at 1:27 AM on March 27, 2008

List of programs
posted by loiseau at 1:32 AM on March 27, 2008

I did a twelve week intensive ("total immersion" program at the Centre d'Etudes Franco-Americain in scenic Lisieux, Normandy (about 2 hours west of Paris by train). I highly recommend it. You sign an oath not to speak English, live with a family, and generally get drilled on the language for 7 hours per day. Of course, I went there in 1987, so I'm not sure if it's still run by the same people (Philippe Almeras and Rainer Dimter).

I would say that 2-4 weeks is not nearly enough, but I think they offer courses of varying lengths.
posted by psmealey at 3:50 AM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]

If you can do a longer program.. Contemporary French Studies - at American study center in Paris. this program is designed for relative newbies at the language (there is also a Critical Studies program which is longer & for more advanced students). You'll be in Paris.. this is a semester/yearlong study abroad, though, not a brief summer session. still.. I recommend, I did the critical studies one and enjoyed it.

Also, you might try Middlebury College in Vermont - they have top notch language programs and probably do summer sessions.
posted by citron at 4:37 AM on March 27, 2008

Middlebury College does, and they're world renowned for it.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 4:59 AM on March 27, 2008

Concordia Language Village in northern Minnesota, near Bemidji. They have adult immersion programs.
posted by nancoix at 5:51 AM on March 27, 2008

I spent 2 weeks (maybe 3? I forget) at Centre Linguistique pour Etrangers in Tours. It was definitely useful for me, even in that small a dose. I came out way more confident in French than I was going in, although I did have a bunch of years of HS french, plus some other experience with non-immersive French classes.

They do arrange home-stays for you, which was also a great experience.

There were opportunities to lapse into English, though. English was typically the common denominator language for all the students (which is not to say that they were all American/British, but almost everyone spoke some English) and so when French broke down or when naive English speakers were alone sometimes everyone would revert to English. This was especially true for people who were just starting out and were really frustrated at not being able to have a proper conversation. I remember hanging out with a refugee from the dot com bust who was just starting French and we would try to chat during the breaks and about all we could get through in 15 minutes was talk about where he was from and whether he preferred orange juice or coffee. Getting past that phase is tough.

You should pick up a copy of Me Talk Pretty One Day. His bits about learning French at a place like this are pretty hysterical, especially after you've picked up the little french-isms in his translations that are very spot on.
posted by heresiarch at 8:17 AM on March 27, 2008

You could learn French in Senegal.

I sure hope that's the right link. A friend of mine is starting a Senegal homestay in May or June, I think, and plans to stay a few months. I'm not sure if I have the right program (pitfalls of a cursory internet lookup).

At any rate, there may be a whole host of French immersion programs in far-flung francophone endroits, like Martinique or Tahiti, which might be well worth exploring.
posted by breezeway at 9:55 AM on March 27, 2008

I attended CIDEF, in Angers for a term. They run intensive programs that last 4 weeks, or longer if you like. I talked to a few of the students that were in it and they definitely improved their French, but not as much as those of us who were there longer. They're very hard core about speaking only French, in fact there was one floor where it was expressly forbidden to speak any other language.
They attract a very wide range of students, including a large number of Asian and African students so it makes you work harder on speaking French because you can't talk to other students in anything else.
posted by fiercekitten at 12:05 PM on March 27, 2008

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