I arrived at the French language school at 8am, and was directed into a classroom by the friendly ILA staff. Although it was early, I was excited to start my French lessons at ILA France. I had practised a bit of French with my host family since I arrived in Montpellier, so my speaking skills were already improving, but I could sense that my grammar definitely needed a bit of work! I took my place in Salle Cabecou, and had a chance to say hi to the other students already there. One of the French teachers then greeted us, and showed us how to log onto the student access, and fill out some quick forms. This whole presentation took about fifteen minutes, so soon we were ready to start our French lessons for the day. I’ve done language stays before where we have spent almost the whole morning filling out forms and enrolling in lessons, so it was a nice surprise that at ILA French Language School this whole process took hardly any time.
It was now time for class. Most of the other students in my class had been there for a few weeks already, but our professor made sure that those of us who had joined today fitted seamlessly into the class, and I didn’t feel like I was behind at all. We started the lesson by introducing ourselves in French, which was a nice way to break the ice with the other students, and to get everyone speaking the language. Our professor continued to ask questions and keep the conversation going, and before I knew it, we had done an hour of speaking practise that just felt like having a conversation.
We then moved onto the grammar part of the lesson. For me, French grammar is difficult to just pick up – it’s something which I have to work at in order to learn. As I am starting to speak French more quickly and easily thanks to my immersion stay, I notice also that I am making more grammar errors as I have less time to think. I find the grammar teaching at ILA French language school therefore really beneficial, as the practise means that I can consolidate the rules in my head until they become like second nature. On my first day for example, we learnt about complement pronouns such as ‘y’ and ‘en’. I had come across these in my studies of French before, but I definitely lacked some practise in using them. Our French teacher gave us a refresher on these, and then we got stuck into exercises. We started off writing down our answers to the questions, and then as we got more confident with the grammar, we began to respond to the questions orally instead. By the end of this, I felt fully comfortable using ‘y’ and ‘en’ more spontaneously, without having to form a sentence in my head before speaking. We finished up the lesson with a bit more speaking practise, and then it was the end of my French courses for this morning. I had been worried that my first day at ILA would be overwhelming, but from the moment that I stepped through the doors to leaving the classroom for lunch, everything was taken care of – all I had to do was focus on learning French!
I grabbed some food from the café next to ILA, and then joined the free French guided tour of Montpellier run by one of the teachers, which takes place every Monday. I met some nice girls on the tour, and afterwards we got a drink together in one of Montpellier’s café terraces, and soaked up the afternoon sun: the perfect end to my first day of classes!