French Lessons in France

By: Dennis Cordy

There are two groups of people who take French lessons in France: those who are doing it for business reasons or combining it with a holiday, and those who suddenly find themselves in France with a less than adequate command of the language. If you're among the second lot I sympathize, a couple of years ago I was there too. The good news is there are relatively painless ways for you to get a handle on the French language quickly!

For me, it was the chance to buy a property in France that I just couldn't miss. I'd been kind of thinking about it for some time without any definite plans when one of those "too good to miss" opportunities came up. I did have some French, but not much, and suddenly there I was - in at the deep end!

I know that a lot of people have done the same as me. Not too smart maybe, but when the chances come you have to grab them. For others, it's sudden job change. Quite often they find themselves amongst other English speakers from a work perspective but if you want to integrate and really benefit from the wonderful French culture you're going need French lessons.

I'm sure there are other reasons for looking for French lessons in France, but the advice I'd give would be the same.

The first would be the face to face approach. Visit your local tourist information office and see what they can offer. Even if you speak no French at all, there's almost always someone who can speak English and help you. Many areas encourage English speakers by providing French language lessons and in a lot of areas there are both large expat groups who can help and various clubs and associations, either expat or expat and French, who promote communal events. These let you mix with French people in your region whilst still giving the support of the English speaking expat community. This takes away the stress you might otherwise feel trying to speak to French people and we all learn better when we're not pressured.

The second approach is by using the superb tool you're looking at now. Your PC is possibly the best aid to learning French there has ever been and even if you're a relative newcomer to your computer you can take advantage of astonishingly good pc-based learning systems that can have you confident and comfortable in French in no time at all.

There are many different French courses available that come on CD or better yet, can be downloaded straight to your computer. The best ones have games you play on screen, interactive tests and challenges, written texts to accompany your learning and French MP3s so you can hear exactly what the language sounds like. What's more, with a CD or MP3 player you can then take the lessons with you in the car or walking around so you can take every opportunity to learn.

So your French lessons in France take two forms. Learning at home where you can relax and do it any time you feel like, and learning face to face with French people, perhaps while sharing a glass of wine. Sounds great, doesn't it, and you'll be amazed how generous and helpful the French are if you try to speak their language - even if you don't do it brilliantly at first!

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