French Immersion through UCPA

Old Jan 11th, 2013, 08:20 AM
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French Immersion through UCPA

I have an intermediate level of French, and I would like to take the next step to becoming fluent by going to France on my own for several weeks in June before I begin grad school in the fall. Does anyone have any advice on places to stay in order to practice my French?

I am not interested in doing a class, but I stumbled upon the UCPA vacances which is extremely intriguing. Does anyone have any information about a UCPA trip you have done in the past?

Thanks!
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 08:43 AM
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I don't know anything about UCPA, but it seems to me you can practice your French absolutely anywhere in France.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 08:50 AM
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but it seems to me you can practice your French absolutely anywhere in France.>

IME not so easy unless you are talking about "Bonjour Madame" and Merci Madame in shops, etc. What OP is asking where can she get in-depth conversation practice - just by being in France several weeks will IME do little - maybe investigate the Alliance Francaise - perhaps they have conversation partners.

And maybe you can investigate Home Stays - like here with me a Saudi Arabian student is living just to have to use his English - he knew none when he came but is rapidly becoming fluent - not by just being in the U S (his brothers speak very little because they live with each other and rarely speak english - at least serious English - I'm sure France has home stays.
Taking a trip with francophiles would also be great and UCPA sounds good - being an au pair is also possible - you get to stay in someone's home to mind their kids and teach them English and you may even get a small wage - there are many many au pair programs for Americans your age.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 08:52 AM
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http://www.afj-aupair.org/apfrance.htm

AFJ is a longtime organization

and for a descirption of au pairs:

http://www.afj-aupair.org/apfrance.htm
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:01 AM
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http://www.ciee.org/

You may want to check out the Council of (on?) Internatinal Education Exchanges - the group that brings you the International Student ID Card I believe - a very established non-profit group thru which you may be able to get a work permit for temporary summer jobs throughout France - some are selling ice cream at seaside resorts but it is a good way to immerse yourself in the French culture and daily use of French.

Also check your university's Study/Work Abroad office that most major universities have.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:05 AM
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vandy, do you want to post a link to the UPCA that you are thinking of?

there are several bodies with that name, including the Utta Pradesh Cricket Association.

i'd be willing to bet quite a lot that that was not what you had in mind!
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:08 AM
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>

IME, au contraire. It's no harder to strike up conversations with people, whether shopkeepers or market vendors or train station attendants or waiters or anyone else, in France as it is anywhere else. Unless you're terminally shy, you can engage people in conversation and pick up all kinds of vocabulary and terminology anywhere in the world.You simply arrive in France with the notion that you're not going to speak a word of anything but French while there...and it happens.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:10 AM
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http://www.ucpa-vacances.com/

UCPA Vacances is a French organization which offers sporting vacations (skiing, tennis, etc.) for people 18-39. I figured it was a great way to have something to do while meeting young French people, but I wanted to know if anyone had any past experiences to share.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:17 AM
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I do think St Cirq makes it sound so so simple - try to get in some kind of program - the pigeon French that you will use in such encounters as she thinks are routine - they are not IME as shopkeepers, etc often are too busy to engage in anything other than casual chitchat. Waiters, train station attendants, etc just do not have the time to engage in in depth conversation - I just do not believe that and my experience tells me that too.

No not buying the idea that you just need to engage waiters, shopkeepers, train station attendants, market vendors, etc and your French, voila, will be so so fluent.

Naw that is not how the real French world works - the French in general are not the most patient people... you will learn yes "Oui," "d'Accord," "a bien tot" etc but little else with that approach - you need something more organized and structured than serendipitous encounters on the street or in shops.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:42 AM
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Vandy : my son had a summer job at UCPA as a sailing instructor several summers in a row. It is a young crowd more interested in practising their sport and eventually partying than giving French lessons... You'll certainly learn the vocabulary specific to the sport you have selected but little else. Not all instructors speak a foreign language.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 09:48 AM
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Well, Pal, we've obviously had very different experiences...and with obvious results.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 10:37 AM
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UCPA Vacances is a French organization which offers sporting vacations (skiing, tennis, etc.) for people 18-39. I figured it was a great way to have something to do while meeting young French people, but I wanted to know if anyone had any past experiences to share.>>

aha - not a cricket club in india then. i should have guessed.

vandy, i'm not as convinced as St. Cirq that you will find spontaneous encounters of the french kind; is there some reason, apart from cost, that you DON'T want to do a language course? I did one in Italy a couple of years ago, and even though it was only for a week, i thought that i made a lot of progress. I'm going on another one in February. I think that if you did 2-3 weeks, and THEN struck off on your own, you would find that your ability to communicate would have improved exponentially.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 10:47 AM
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If you really want to improve your French, you do need to take a class. And you are not going to go from intermediate to fluent in a couple of weeks no matter what, that is unrealistic. YOur best bet would be some kind of formal immersion program which takes up most of your day.

If you just want to go to France and hang out for a couple weeks, your French isn't going to improve that much.

And you are not going to get locals to carry on long conversations with you, sorry, this won't happen. Sure, you can say a word here or there and talk a little bit, but no one is going to want to spend a long time conversing with a tourist who doesn't speak French that well. Think about it, would you at home spend a long time talking to a stranger you met any place who didn't speak English fluently? highly unlikely, people are too busy with their regular life.

But if you just want to hang out a couple weeks, you can literally do that anywhere and I don't think it matters much. However, people are less likely to know English so maybe you can try to speak more French in most any place outside the big cities, in my experience. It's really fairly that simple, just go to smaller places or even in Paris, just go to parts of the city where there aren't a lot of tourists. I've carried on small conversations in Paris with people I met in the park, these were locals who were not involved in the tourist business, and didn't have jobs requiring English, and thus wouldn't speak English fluently. One was an older woman down in park Montsouris, just sitting on a bench, a retiree. We talked about crime in the US vs. Paris, housing for the elderly, social security, etc, but I spoke probably at more than what I"d call an intermediate level. But this was just maybe 10 minutes out of my day, and it didn't happen daily, that's not really an immersion experience to improve your language.
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 11:44 AM
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Pvoyageuse - Disregarding the language part, did your son enjoy his time with UCPA?
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 12:12 PM
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Vandy : yes, very much, otherwise he wouldn't have worked 3 summers at UCPA,plus he loves sailing. There was no language problem, we are French. I just talked to him on the phone and he insisted on the fact that the people who join UCPA do so to practice their favorite activity more than anything else (socializing/partying).
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 12:28 PM
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There comes a time in every students life when an additional class is really not the answer to improving language skills. If you already have studied and understand basic grammar, understand verb conjugations, have a good vocabulary, what you most likely need is conversation practice and UCPA is the ideal vehicle for you. By default you must communicate in French as most of the instruction is in French and most of the attendees speak only French.

Our daughter, who is ten and a fluent French speaker, has attended UCPA camps since she was 6 (the age range is actually 6 - 39). One year she was the only English/French speaker at the facility and was the only conduit of communication for a group of Russian children who, besides speaking Russian, could only speak English. All communication between this group and the camp consulars was through our daughter. While it is true that the overall objective of UCPA is sporting activities, language plays a big role in all phases of activity and it is a excellent way for an advanced French student to really immerse themselves and make significant language skill improvements.

You should not hesitate in spending as much time as you can at UCPA or any of the other similar youth activity groups.

http://www.ucpa-vacances.com/
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Old Jan 11th, 2013, 12:30 PM
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Thanks for all of the responses and help!
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Old Jan 12th, 2013, 07:59 AM
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ttt
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