My first few days in Montpellier have been great. I will be here for three weeks to learn French and finally started my course after looking forward to it for weeks. The idea for this language stay in France came to me a few months ago, when I realised that it wouldn’t be hard to reactivate a lot of my French by taking a course in France. I am a German university student who grew up in Canada. Back in primary school, I was fluent in French and I had no problem at all speaking it. However, since I didn’t take it in high school once we moved back to Germany, it had become a little rusty. It wasn’t that I didn’t understand it – I was missing the vocabulary to speak it properly. A year ago, my father had to learn French for his new job and he chose to do so in Montpellier. After finishing his language stay including a course that taught French to adults, he highly recommended I copy him and come here as well.
Speaking French again is easier than I thought!
Although coming here on my own was quite a big decision for me, it turned out to be exactly the right one. I booked my stay with a host family and ended up with an older woman also hosting a language student from Taiwan, with whom I connected almost immediately. It was great having someone in the same situation as I was in, although she was staying for six months, and I realized how good it felt to really be surrounded by the foreign language I had struggled with earlier.
I also realized over the first few days that I hadn’t forgotten how to speak French, it had just faded from my memory a little bit. With my host mom talking to me all the time during breakfast and dinner, I learned words that are used in daily life very quickly from her, and I got used to also communicating by paraphrasing and using sign language for missing vocabulary at home. During lessons in my first week at school, we repeated the past and future tenses, so that I was able to form sentences that were a little more complicated as well.
Studying French means finding friends
Once you’re surrounded by people speaking the language you want to study, you pick up things faster than expected. It also helps that at school, you meet people in exactly the same situation as you are – there are people who want to improve their French, people wanting to pass the DELF exam, people needing a French course for university, and finally people like me who learn French “seulement pour le plaisir”. All these people have one thing in common, however – they come alone and want to leave with a higher French language level and new contacts from all over the world. Since that connects all the students at school, a good community forms fairly quickly: these are the people you spend your afternoons with, people you go out with on weekends, and people you talk to most during the day. Everyone has the goal of improving their French, so the language used most to communicate even outside of class is French. I have been witness to a lot of people even from the same country talking in French just for the cause of practice.
Advantages of a language stay in Montpellier
After barely a week in Montpellier, I already know that this was definitely the best decision on how to spend my vacation from university. Not only is it very different to study a language than sciences (I study medicine at home) but also it is a great experience to get to know France and its culture from a different side. With French lessons in the morning and afternoon, I don’t feel like a tourist here, and I greatly enjoy noticing small successes every day – whether that is being able to talk to my host mother about the topic we conversed about in class, being able to properly take part in a discussion in class or finally understand certain rules in grammar. As a language student, I am able to experience life in this beautiful city. I have time to look all around the city, visit museums and take part in trips the ILA French language school offers. I can experience French culture from the inside, enjoy the food my host mother cooks every night, and get away from my dull daily life in Germany while still doing something for my education. I am very much looking forward to the rest of my stay here and I am excited to see what else awaits me. I would highly recommend this kind of language stay to anyone considering or wanting to learn French – whether it’s beginner, intermediate or high level, there’s always the right French course for you here. And don’t worry about coming by yourself – finding friends is easy!