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Has anyone done a French immersion vacation?

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Sep 26th, 2009, 12:28 PM
  #1
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Has anyone done a French immersion vacation?

I want to learn French, now that it's not a language requirement! Has anyone taken a French immersion vacation in France that they could recommend? there seems to be a lot of them. One on the island of Re sounds interesting. I also know that the Alliance Francais in Paris has a fantastic one. I want to live like a native, enjoy myself and come home speaking French.
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Sep 26th, 2009, 01:43 PM
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Centre Linguistique pour Etrangers (known as CLE) in Tours.

Coeur de France in Sancerre.

CLE is more rigorous; highly recommend.
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Sep 26th, 2009, 01:52 PM
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First I must say I have never done an immersion French course but I can tell you that nothing you do on a 2 or 3 week course will have you returning home speaking French. I have lived in France 6-7 months each year for 5 years, have French speaking friends, have taken no less than 5 French courses, still review a lesson for 30-45 minutes everyday of my life and only in the past year would I say that "I speak French". I will never speak like a native but am happy to be able to go anywhere in the country and communicate without any problem and have a conversation with a French person who speaks no English.

If only it were so easy to just take one immersion course and go home speaking French. I wish you the very very best of luck and if you are able to pull this off please post your experiences and tell me where I can take such a course with such magical results. Then again maybe I am just not good at learning languages.

One more thing. I spend a lot of time on the Cote d'Azur and there is a language school in Villefranche sur Mer just outside Nice that I have heard is very good. The surroundings are great so maybe you would be interested in researching this one.

http://www.institutdefrancais.com/about.html

Larry J
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Sep 27th, 2009, 10:08 AM
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I agree with Larry, you have unrealisitic ideas. I've studied French in Paris at three different schools, ranging from a week or two to over a month, but I don't know that I'd call them immersion courses, they were just classes taking about maybe half my day, all together (I was taking 2-4 courses simultaneously, like a regular college -- one in basic grammar, one in official translation, one in phonetique or French history, etc.

The Alliance Francaise doesn't have any immersion courses I've ever heard of, just regular classes, and I don't think they are the best school in Paris. Maybe you meant some other one, I'm sure they have them in lots of cities in France. I've heard from French teachers that the one in Paris isn't that great (they have a wide variety of students because of their name, and the classes are large and not often that rigorouos as a lot of the students don't do much work). I looked at their website and they talk about classes, including intensive (a lot of schools use intensive to mean maybe 15+ hrs a week), but they don't say they have any immersion courses. I didn't think they could as they don't always even provide housing for you. They may try to, but don't always have enough slots open and just give you some referrals or tell you that you are on your own to get housing. I think they say that if you want to stay in a homestay situation, that will be an "immersion" situation, but it isn't like some schools where you really are in an immersion program in a residence hall and planned classes all day. I've heard that those homestays are not always that great (many are in the suburbs, of course, and the people may not be that interested in you), and Alliance Francaise often doesn't have enough slots anyway, if you want one. On the contrary, the Alliance Francaise where I live in the US is very good, at least most of the teachers are.

I think maybe you might just want intensive classes, not immersion. But you won't learn to speak French in any time period called a vacation, I'm afraid. I also wish it were that easy. If you really only want to do it if you can speak French at the end, I'd say you will be disappointed and don't do these. YOu'd have to live in France a year or two to get to some level of easy speaking ability, I'd guess. My brother was totally immersed in a country that way and I think he said it took him at least a year before he could communicate somewhat easily and definitely not fluently, and he also had all-day intensive classes for six weeks before going to live in that country (that was Spanish).

There are some good guides online, like Shaw Guides, that list language courses or the FLE for France specifically. see www.fle.fr

I have attended both the Sorbonne and l'Institut Catholique de Paris, and both were excellent, although I did prefer ICP, especially their housing, which was very nice. see www.icp.fr
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Sep 29th, 2009, 04:51 PM
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I'll have to ask one of my friends about her experience. She took a semester of Italian at a community college. Went to Rome and took a one month immersion course. Spent two more months there and she came back completely fluent. Maybe Italian is easier.
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Sep 29th, 2009, 06:16 PM
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I'm spending a week at Coeur de France in Sancerre in October. Will be posting here about that experience. Leave for Paris a week from Thursday and can't wait!
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Sep 29th, 2009, 06:30 PM
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Your friend may be some sort of language savant, or else she's pulling your leg. She might have a very good accent and is able to fool people (no joke - plenty of people think I know a heck of a lot more French and German than I do just because I have a good accent). Are you very good at mimicking accents? Have you studied or grown up with other languages? Do you have an excellent memory? Are you extremely self-confident? Some people (who typically answer 'yes' to these questions) are better at picking up languages than others; people who are raised bilingual seem to have the most ease in learning additional languages.

I spent a semester in Montpellier in college, studying only French, and certainly wasn't fluent when I returned. I lived in Germany for 2.5 years, took intensive German classes for 6 months, and didn't come back fluent. I don't describe myself as being good with languages, so someone else in my shoes might have done better, but I wouldn't describe myself as a language dolt either.

Just set reasonable expectations for yourself. You will likely have an incredible experience, but you probably won't come away speaking fluent French.
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Sep 29th, 2009, 06:32 PM
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You won't be fluent after an "immersion vacation" but even 2-3 weeks at a language school (especially if you do "immerse" yourself 24/7) will be more helpful than years of taking courses a couple of hours a week at home. My experience at CLE made such a difference in my language skills, and the school took their mission quite seriously.
Coeur de France was less helpful but a pleasant experience.
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Sep 29th, 2009, 08:52 PM
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If you want to live like a native, you'll need a job and a mortgage in France, not just a language course.

Of course returning home speaking French will depend upon how well you now speak and how much time you'll have in France. For a relative beginner, you'll need about a year to become fairly confident with the language. Progress depends upon ability, commitment, and conversational exposure to natives.

Outside of Paris, I recommend these schools which offer instruction on a monthly basis:

in Tours
http://www.institut-touraine.asso.fr/

in Aix-en-Provence
http://www.iefee.com/

For relatively good results for those with only a very limited amount of time I recommend in Villefranche-sur-mer:
http://www.institutdefrancais.com/
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Sep 29th, 2009, 09:12 PM
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It is important to find a school with a good teacher/student ratio; at both CLE and Coeur de France the maximum class size is 7 or 8.

When I was at CLE in Tours, I met students from the Institut Touraine, and there were around 15 students in their classes.
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Oct 27th, 2009, 03:26 AM
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Hello Bonjour everybody!

If you are interested in a French immersion course with lots of exciting cultural activities in the beautiful Cognac region of France "Live French" can be helpful. It is a French immersion course based on a cultural theme selected by you. Personalized courses, cultural activities and social events in a relaxed atmosphere will help you to become more confident and fluent.

It is a one to one training course, (there can be up to 6 people at a time), it's efficient and fun! You will also be able to experience the French art of living too!
Have a look at www.live-french.com
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Oct 27th, 2009, 07:12 AM
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I have to agree with those who have worked with the language already: Its not going to happen in two weeks. You'll come home saying a few phrases but knowing how to put phrases together on your own will take time and study. There is a HUGE difference between wanting to SPEAK French and wanting to STUDY French, and aside from being born in France and growing up there, it will take some time and serious effort to do the former. I have been working diligently for two years and here is what helped me the most:

Ultimate French w/ CDs and over an hour's worth of practice a day in the car where I could say the phrases at full voice without embarrassment.
French in Action series (PBS) with the videos and the book
TV5Monde Channel on DishTV, 3-5 hours daily, with and without subtitles.

The Ultimate French was great because it would give me the underlying grammar behind the phrases. The French in Action was great for some visual cues and scenes of France and Paris and the daily French channel is great because it will give you constantly changing phrases spoken at real speed by many different French native speakers. News anchors are the easiest to understand, soap opera stars the most difficult...especially the slang.

So, the question is: do you really want to learn French or do you just magically want to speak it? Or do you really just want to spend a couple of weeks in France and drink some wine? C'mon now, be honest!

You might try doing a little studying (say 6 months) and then going. You also might find that you end up getting more out if it with a little foundation. And before you spend extra money on an "immersion vacation" consider this: there are lots of little villages within an hour's train ride from Paris. You could select one with a nice B&B and use that for a base of operations. They don't speak English as much in these small villages so you would be immersed, and when you wanted to do a trip to Paris, it would always be an option for a day trip. Get to know the people of the village and then make that your home base for future trips. My choice would be the wine country. Go during the wine harvest and join in gathering in the grapes. Just don't go with any English speaking friends or you'll be tempted to hang out with them and speak English.

A bientot. Bon chance!
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Oct 27th, 2009, 07:41 AM
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That would be BONNE chance. One of the first things you should learn in French is that adjectives have to agree in gender with the noun, and in fact, bonne and bon sound different. Chance is a basic word and actually "sounds" feminine if you've studied French very much, but for some reason many people who throw this phrase around don't know what it really is and think chance is a masculine noun.
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Oct 27th, 2009, 12:45 PM
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Thanks Christina. Are you saying I should be reading and writing more and not listening as much? ;-) Noticed this mistake myself just after writing the last entry. Funny thing is that many people who studied in high school and college can read and write it perfectly but can't speak it with any kind of a French accent and can't understand it when native speakers are speaking. BTW, gender differentiation was one of the first things I learned, in German as well as French. Thank goodness French has only 2 genders. Several months ago, a French man with whom I work confided that French people have a lot of difficulty with the written aspect of French. So I don't feel so bad.
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Oct 27th, 2009, 04:47 PM
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Here's an excellent post from a couple of years ago:

http://www.fodors.com/community/trav...ge-holiday.cfm
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Oct 27th, 2009, 06:31 PM
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I want to live like Larry!
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Oct 27th, 2009, 08:19 PM
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I believe there is a problem here w/ terminology. One can be fluent at a low level or a higher level. Does fluent mean good pronunciation or responding with alacrity? And one has to be able to understand before one can respond. There's a lot to learn.
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Oct 27th, 2009, 11:15 PM
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I studied French for three years and I'm still nowhere near fluent. Yes, thank goodness that French only has two genders. Compare that to German, or Czech!
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Aug 28th, 2013, 05:40 AM
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It's odd but when I was in Argentina I met several people who spoke English very well but had only ever been to an English speaking country once or twice in their lives. Also the Dutch are a puzzle. Many seem to have an exceptionally high level of English but don't seem to visit the UK/USA anymore than any other nationality. Even if you don't live in France, reading French regularly, watching French TV, doing online languages exchanges will all help to deepen your knowledge of the language after you return home.
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Aug 28th, 2013, 08:25 AM
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yeah, well, this question was three years ago.

I haven't been to Argentina but I do find that odd. The Dutch aren't that much of a puzzle, I think that is true of Scandinavia, also. I think the reason is that no one else in the world or any other country speaks Dutch (or Finnish, etc.), so they learn English as more of an international language, and of course, it is of use in many other countries also where they may travel (ie, UK, Ireland, etc.). It is probably perceived as being more useful and versatile than learning French, for example. And if you work in business or high tech fields, that would especially be true, I imagine.
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