After some hesitation, you have finally decided to sign up for French courses in France because a friend returned from summer school and recommended to you a language school which allowed him to learn French effectively. He sings the praises of an immersion learning in France but has he warned you of the pitfalls to avoid so that your immersion is optimal?
Achieving A Successful French Immersion
Take advantage of these tips to make your immersion in France as beneficial as possible. Here is a short list of things to avoid in order to best learn French:
1. Rooming with other foreign students
Rooming with other foreign students is a better way to practice your English than your French. If you have chosen to come all the way to France to learn French, total immersion in French is best. Living with a French host family will help you learn French better and faster. Additionally, you will have an opportunity to put to use what you have learned in your French courses in the language school.
Living with a host family allows you to discover the art of French living and to experience daily French life. In addition, there are families who host multiple students from the same language school which would allow you to share the experience and be with people who have the same desire as you: to learn French.
2. Only making friends of your same nationality in your French course
It is true that it is tempting to approach people who speak your language. Certainly it is reassuring and it is easier to make friends with these students. But if you came to France, it is not to speak your native tongue. And it’s easier to speak French with someone who does not speak your language. So, in the language school where you will be, try to first make friends with students who come from other backgrounds. It will be perfect because it will allow you to communicate in French.
However, this does not mean you cannot make friends with your fellow countrymen as such strong affinities cannot be controlled, but try to focus on making the most of contacts with students of other nationalities!
3. Going out at night with only your fellow countrymen
After class, it is really beneficial to spend time around and if possible to meet French people… It’s easy. You have the advantage of an immersion in France and nothing could be simpler than to go out for a coffee and listen to the conversations around you and perhaps to exchange a few words with the waiter ! Take part in the local life and go to the museum openings, in the flea markets where you can chat with the sellers…Some cities have tastings of wine or local specialities. These types of events are a perfect chance to make connections and use your French. So be curious and visit the Tourism Office to fins out all the different things you could do.
4. Using your phone as a translator
You have chosen a language school to take courses of french in France so why have your nose glued to your laptop or your dictionary? An immersion in France will help you to learn much more vocabulary than searching on an app on your phone!
First, in your French course, your teacher will be your dictionary. You will also learn vocabulary from the other students in your class.
Secondly, with your host family, in restaurants, or on the street, make it a habit to try to explain your thoughts with the French vocabulary that you already know rather than using a dictionary to look up every word that you wish to say. When speaking with people, this will allow you to remain in the conversation rather than breaking your thought to look a word up. And if you make a mistake, don’t worry. Don’t forget that the reason you came to a language school in France was to learn French… and to learn French, you must practice it! This immersion in France is exactly what you need to give meaning to your learning.
5. Wanting to move too quickly from one level to the other
Be patient! Learning French is an adventure. Sometimes you will learn very quickly and other times it will seem that you are not making progress. Language schools have the advantage of being organized and the French course that you take will be adapted to your level. But if you ask questions, you’ll find someone to advise you and help you best in your learning process.
Take advantage of the regular evaluations that will point out your achievements and your potential challenges. Additionally, your language school, offers several types of courses depending on what you want to work on or your needs. You can always choose to take an individualized course if you feel that you are having difficulties that need particular attention and cannot be resolved in your French course.
6. Studying all alone
Do not spend all your evenings in your room working on your grammar or vocabulary. Take advantage of tours that are offered to you by your school or by the Tourist Office. Profit from your immersion in France and discover the area where you are staying. It is equally rewarding to learn about the French culture of France while learning the language of France. Your French courses will give you the fundamentals of the language. Another benefit of your French courses that you take in France is that you can put your new skills to work as soon as you get out of your language school – at the bakery for example. You will enrich your vocabulary just by reading billboards or the names of stores.
It is good to share your discoveries with other students. You can get back to your books when you get back home, but the experiences that you have during your immersion in France are priceless. It is not just a vacation in France, but because your French courses help you to interact in the daily life, it is as if France is your home!
7. Watching films in English
Give up your usual habits! Go to cinemas which offer French movies or in French and if you absolutely want to go see a movie in English, find one with French subtitles and read them in order to enrich your learning from your French courses. You also enjoy a French film at the cinema club in your French language school.
Your teachers will of course encourage you to go to the movies or to watch TV so you can experience the melody of spoken French. Indeed, to learn French, you’ll learn phonetics in your language school but you are so lucky to have an immersion in France and to be able to bathe in the musicality of the French language. Put to work all of the tips that you are given during your French course to work on your oral comprehension. You can read these French listening tips which can help you with oral comprehension.
It is clear that outside of your language school, your goal is to maximize your immersion in France!
8. Read the news in your native language
Don’t be content to just read newspapers or e-phone articles in your native language. Download French applications or find the free newspapers distributed at the tram or metro stops. Teachers will sometimes have you read some articles in your French course, but not all the time so take advantage of this immersion to keep abreast of the news in French. You will enrich what you are already learning in your French courses during your immersion in France. You can then share with other students what you understood, learned or even discovered!
It is also an opportunity to be more attuned to French news and to learn things that you wouldn’t have learned through watching the news in your own language. You can get an idea of what are the concerns of the French and perhaps better understand what you have read.
9. Reading the novel in English that you packed
Do not continue to read the novel that you brought in your suitcase even if you have to know how it ends. To experience a total immersion in France, go and buy small books in French. Don’t bother to read a heavy classic French novel that you won’t understand much and you might never finish, rather choose a simpler book that you can read quickly in order to feel satisfied with your success.
And to reassure yourself that you have understood it and at the same time practice speaking French, why not make entertain the other students in your French course by making a short presentation in class.
If you do not want to buy a novel because your suitcase is already too heavy, your language school will most likely allow you to take advantage of their library or resource center where you can borrow books during your stay in France.
10. Being too harsh on yourself and comparing yourself to other students
It is important that you have confidence in yourself and that you are not overly harsh with yourself. Try not to compare yourself to the rest of your group in your French course. Of course, one student may be better than you in grammar but you will be better in phonetics, etc.
The advantage of groups is that you will share your knowledge and help each other. It is essential that learning French remains a pleasure! Do not view the corrections made by your teacher as negative, but as a tool in formative learning. The French course is the place where errors are allowed and don’t forget that you are in a language school.
Now that you know how to optimize your immersion in France, you can visit an agency or look on the internet in order to find a language school that suits you and which offers French courses corresponding to your needs and expectations.