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Learning French

When A French Immersion Experience Goes Wrong: Tips On How To Avoid It

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Are you considering to book a language stay in France? You have searched the net for French immersion courses and found dozens of language schools to learn French in France? You'll want to opt for one of these offers, but how can you compare the different language stay options? Of course, you want to select an excellent French immersion course in France for your language stay and it should also have a good price-performance ratio.

Be careful when you select a school to learn French in France in order to avoid disappointment…

How to avoid a Bad French Immersion Experience

French Immersions: What You Need To Avoid

Imagine how your language stay in France could become a nightmare. You arrive for your French immersion at the airport and your host family is not there to pick you up. You have trouble to find a taxi to get to your host family and maybe you wait for a few hours in front of their home since they are not around. The school has simply forgotten to communicate your arrival details.

On the first day of your French immersion you realize that the school has no proper infrastructure with computers, free internet access and comfortable classrooms where learning French makes fun.

There are only a few students at school for the French immersion program. It will be difficult to make new friends and have a good time learning French in France. You are surprised that there are only two French levels and not at least 6 levels according to the European scheme of Language teaching. French immersion students with different levels are mixed in one class. The learning progress will be very slow, because the class simply is not homogeneous. Your teacher seems to have no great experience in teaching French immersion programs, and has no motivation at all. The teaching method is monotonous and boring, no fun to learn French. No leisure program for additional French immersion is offered.

You want to complain about all of this at reception desk, but no decision maker is available. Even worse, nobody can speak English and your concerns do not seem important anyway – you paid already in full!

A nightmare – but stop this imagination!

French immersion in France ought to be fun, bring excellent progress and give you an unforgettable time. You should get an insight into French culture and civilization, get to know students from many different countries and maybe make friends for life. An experience of a lifetime!

Do not just book the cheapest school for your language stay. Your French immersion can become quickly a disaster. You invest time and money for your French immersion and this should be well spent.

How do you choose an excellent French school for your language stay in France? How to avoid a bad investment? Please read the following carefully to avoid disappointment.

How to choose a great school form my language stay in France?

Avoid French immersion schools which have no or almost no official quality seals. There are only 4 labels for French immersion schools which confirm quality:

  • “Qualité FLE” and “Groupement FLE” (the 2 leading French labels)
  • “IALC” or “EAQUALS” (the 2 leading international labels).

Do not be impressed by other “quality logos” like “customer awards”; “excellence awards” etc. given by big internet booking engines for pure marketing purposes. They did not check the quality of the schools! A good number of French immersion schools present those one on their websites. They are misleading! Look what is behind quality labels being posted on language immersion schools websites. Choose a school that has at least “Qualité FLE” label and if possible “IALC” and EAQUALS”. Than you have a school that is checked by local bodies and by international bodies and you can be sure your language stay will be a success.

Class sizes play a major role in learning French. The smaller the class, the faster your progress will be. Around 10 students per class is a good number, the teacher can look well after you, and there is usually a very good price-performance ratio. Avoid schools that make inaccurate or no information on class sizes, as otherwise you will probably have a really unpleasant surprise.

Avoid language schools that promise a lot but do not specify any references of former participants. Nowadays it is easy to build good website and to buy photos from photo agencies. Watch carefully if everything feels authentic. Is the school building real? Then you know that this is not a nomadic school, constantly leasing space in different locations.

Check the size of your French immersion school. Avoid very small schools who are teaching French to only a few participants. Often they do not offer all 6 levels of the Common European Framework for language teaching and class level are not homogeny. Participants of different levels are, for economic reasons, often placed in the same class. To be avoided since your learning progress will be very limited. Often there is no or only a very limited activity program. Activity programs are an important part of your French immersion in order to get an insight into French culture and civilization.

Look on the website of the school, is the teacher team presented? What qualifications do these teachers have? Is the whole administrative team of the school featured? Are there specialists for accommodation? Are there welfare officer to support you locally?

Is there an interesting leisure program? Most participants for language immersions to France travel alone – the leisure program is not only important to learn about French culture, but also to get in closer contact with other immersion student of the French school.

How do I get more information about the French language school I like to choose?

Read the website of the French immersion schools very carefully. Look at what is offered exactly, but also what is not reported and hidden. Follow above recommendations when deciding where to learn French in France.

Do not be afraid, before deciding on your French immersion school, to ask all questions you might have: “How many people will be there in February?”; “What is the average age?”; “Which countries do the participants come from?”; “Can I change my host family if it does not like it there”; “What qualifications do the teachers have” etc.

Ask any questions that seem important to you, there are no “stupid” questions. See how language immersion schools answer your questions. Is the answer detailed and precise or do you receive little information? Are they willing to help to find the best course for you?

It is not difficult to choose a good French immersion school and to have a great language stay experience for life if you follow the points described. A language stay should be memorable and give you advantages for your future life. You will not only improve you language abilities, but you will also have an important experience abroad.

You can also read another article about things to avoid in order to best learn French.