Problems that students doing French language stays in France often face are closely related to organisation. We all want to be more organised and get more done. We want to master each aspect of the French language before moving on but the pace of the course doesn’t give us quite as much time as we would like so we move on to another topic with holes in our understanding that can reveal themselves at inconvenient moments. So we need to be efficient with our time. Here I would like to talk about the importance of arranging your time effectively and what this brings with it. If you are serious about getting the most out of your French immersion stay in France it is essential and I don’t just mean for learning French but for the personal aspects of the experience as well.
Many of us are very organised at the start of an intensive French course. We have bought ourselves all this fancy new stationary, our handwriting is neat and we are on top of the homework. Fast forward a few weeks and you’ve only got a couple of pens left, your calligraphy has degenerated into chicken scratch and you are saying ‘pardon’ to the teacher for forgetting the homework more often than not.
A lot of this will come down to the social side of things. You are not in France doing an immersion stay that often so when someone invites you to do something it’s easy to think you should enjoy your time here. I agree that you should enjoy your time here from every angle. I think it’s good for you and good for your studies but I don’t think that it’s a polar choice between having fun and smashing your DELF exam preparation course or whatever French intensive course for adults you are doing. What I find myself and from talking to the other students at the French Immersion School is that they feel a bit of guilt when they omit a night of studying they said they wanted to do in favour of going out. This is where I think having a revision schedule and sticking to it can help. Having an indeterminate amount of French work to do can loom over you and make procrastination more likely. If, however you have a predetermined segment of time committed to learning French once you have done it you can relax knowing you have done enough for the time being. You have earned the right to do whatever you want for the rest of the evening. It’s a lot easier to enjoy your free time when you don’t have the thought of an ever-increasing mountain of work haunting you.
If you make a smart, realistic plan with the total amount of work in mind I think it is much more beneficial than just saying to yourself I’ll do 2 hours of French every night. The former will give you the peace of mind that if you just do what you’ve set yourself you will reach your goal and it means if you do more you can feel proud and if you do less you know you need to do a bit more further down the line. It will also make you more flexible with your plans because you will know exactly how much extra time you need to commit to get back on track.
Making a revision time table will allow you to keep a closer eye on your work rate and if you stick to it will give you the peace of mind that is so important for success on a French immersion course in Montpellier. I recommend putting the fun things you are planning to do on your time table as well so you know what you have as a reward for all the hard work. This is the first step to smashing your French immersion stay in France.