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Learn French in Montpellier, by Sally (New Zealand)

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Learn French in Montpellier, by Sally (New Zealand)

I am currently attending a French immersion course in Montpellier. Here is the background.

Ever since I learnt French at school in New Zealand in the 1960s I have dreamed of one day being able to live in France for a few months and immerse myself totally into French life. I knew that would mean a French language stay in France. There is something about France that really appeals to so many of us kiwis. It is hard to define and believe me, I’ve had plenty of practice because everyone asks why I am learning French at my age (late 60s!)

What many of them don’t know is that I did 5 years of French at school and then 2 years at University but somehow I got through all that time with very little verbal practice. I read whole novels in French (think Camus, Stendhal, Balzac etc), I built up an eclectic vocabulary, I could at that stage decline an irregular verb in a vast range of tenses, but never did I get robust opportunities to actually speak the French language. It was after all before electronic media made an entrance to classrooms and way before language apps came on the scene. Inter-active learning was essentially a thing of the future. Now learning French in France seemed a perfect option.

French Immersion Education

My decision to attend a French Language School in France came as a result of my ‘dream’. In order to maximise the experiences that would come with French village life I knew that I would have to be able to ‘parler la langue’ and for me the best way to do that was to project myself straight into France, and into a French immersion language school.

I decided I wanted to do a summer French course in France. My initial Google search presented me with a vast range of options but I chose the ILA French language school in Montpellier primarily because the website really ‘spoke’ to me. It was light, bright, fun, colourful and seemed to present cameo profiles of students who came from all corners of the world, they were at many ages and stages, and with a vast range of personal objectives and aims. And they agreed on a value of a residential French course and that a French language stay in Montpellier was the way to go. I had initially thought I might go for the ‘over 50’ classes, but the dates they were on offer did not suit me, and besides I have two sons in their 30s, surround myself with young people as much as I can, and love the buzz that comes from occasions where people interact across many many generations.

So how has it been ?

I am now coming to the end of my second period of 3 weeks at the ILA French language immersion school. I was here for 3 weeks in June 2016 and now, as I write this, it is mid June 2017 and I am back in Montpellier for another 3 weeks. It has been a huge success.The first time was harder than the second, but that was to be expected. I really had no idea quite what I was letting myself in for. But with the wonderful benefit of hindsight, I need not have worried.

In 2016 I chose to have ILA arrange a host family for me during my French language stay in Montpellier. It meant that I need not concern myself at all with the accommodation side of things. My host met me at the airport, took me to the French school the first day, showed me the way round the excellent public transport system (Note – Montpellier has what is reputed to be the sexiest trams in the world – designed by couturier Christian Lacroix no less) and provided me with a comfortable bed, breakfast and dinner each day. She also spoke no English so my French immersion really did start the moment the plane touched down in Montpellier. Challenging? Yes! But exactly what I needed if I was to be able to talk my way through the normal daily interactions of a French village at some stage in the future!

The classes themselves

I chose to enrol in the Standard French Language Course which happens in the mornings from 9am to 12.15pm, five days a week. Each class consists of a little grammar, a little writing, a little comprehension, and lots of conversation. The teachers are huge fun and make learning French so enjoyable. They are very clearly passionate about their language and their life in Montpellier and inject a large amount of their own personality into each class. And it shows. Both times I’ve been here I’ve laughed a lot, learnt a lot and loved every single minute of it. I’ve decided that a French course in Montpellier is a great way to spend a few weeks.

Thank you ILA. You have changed my life 🙂

Sally, New Zealand (ILA student)