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Language Immersion Courses in France

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Sep 17th, 2011, 03:36 PM
  #1
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Language Immersion Courses in France

Do you know any reputable institutions in Paris that offer such courses for foreigners in the summer? It's for my teenage son who studies French at school. We are planning to go to France in the summer and would like to use that opportunity. We'll be in Paris for a week to ten days. Thanks in advance.
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Sep 17th, 2011, 03:52 PM
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Tell him to speak French whenever he talks to locals in cafes, restaurants, grocery stores etc. Though you should consider visiting smaller towns if you want him to practice his French because in Paris, the French usually respond in English if they hear an English accent.

Just talking to locals and being able to understand what they say to a certain extent would increase his confidence and would motivate him to continue studying the language.

However, I think a one week course is way too short for for him to gain any benefit. I would consider enrolling him in a boarding school or have him stay with a French host family for a month or so.
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Sep 17th, 2011, 03:54 PM
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I agree that your time is too short for an "immersion" course. Enroll him in the Alliance Française when you get back, if you have one near you.
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Sep 17th, 2011, 06:58 PM
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We did actually enroll him in Alliance Française in NYC this summer for two weeks. He had a 3 hour lesson every day and liked it a lot.

We plan to go to Loire Valley and Normandy before Paris. Perhaps, he can do a little bit of talking in the small towns there. Thanks for the advice.
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Sep 18th, 2011, 08:10 AM
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Hello Gina, I did a two-week course last summer at a school in Sancerre named Coeur de France. I liked it very much and it was indeed an immersion trip - the school has the support of the surrounding village and all communication inside and outside of the school takes place in French.

Paris is a difficult place for Americans who wish to pratice French because many Parisians speak English and will switch to it as soon as they hear an American accent or when they are asked to repeat what they said. However, it is possible to speak French in the city. I often find it easier to speak in Paris with immigrants; since they are not native speakers they have much more sympathy for their fellow language learners! I love listening to their uniquely and beautifully accented French (our accent, not quite so desirable, I think).

There is an Alliance Francaise in Paris but I don't know what kind of classes they offer - you might check it out on line. I would consider though that it might be too difficult for your son to be in class while his family is enjoying the beautiful city!

I second a stay with a host family, or even a summer program. I wish I had done that while I was young - what a wonderful memory you will give your son if he does something like that. I do believe that living in France for a long period of time (a month, at least, if not longer) is the only way to become a fluent speaker of the language.
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Sep 18th, 2011, 08:48 AM
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I have to say that I disagree with the idea that a 1 or two week immersion course is not worthwhile. I'm sure that I owe my facility in german to the weeks that I spent with my german penfried and her family, where it was speak german or starve! I also did a week at an italian language school earlier this year, and not only enjoyed it but benefitted too.

obviously a month or longer is ideal, but anything is better than nothing. many language schools offer classes in the morning with excursions in the afternoon and lodging with a family. the snag might be his age - you don't say whether he is 16 or over.

have you done the obvious and googled "language schools in Paris"?
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Sep 18th, 2011, 09:50 AM
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Sure, there are reputable languages schools in Paris. I've attended three, but two were universities and don't have any classes that short, a month is the minimum. The other is a private school that is very good and will accept students on a rolling basis for a week at a time, the most flexible. That is L'Institut Parisien near LaMotte Piquet metro stop. Now they do have limits for some levels wehre you cannot only take a week or two, I think they won't do that for beginners. But if he is beyond that level, should be possible. I took a conversation class there for only a week or two, just to brush up and because I like going to school abroad when possible. http://www.institut-parisien.com/

I think I've heard Accord is pretty good, also, but you'd have to check their availabilities, as well as Alliance Francaise in Paris. I think the Alliance has rolling entries each week for those who are not beginners, but not sure. They won't allow just one class, if you are enrolling for a short time, you have to take at least 20 hours a week, but that sounds like what you want anyway, half days in school.

Finally, it may depend on his age, also, as to what is possible. I think most schools will not enroll students less than age 18 in these programs. I know the university programs I went to would not, but those were for a month or more. These private schools and the Alliance may have different standards. YOu need to be there longer than a week, as I imagine any school is going to require to preliminary test to determine class level. I know l'Institut Parisien does, and I took that test some time in the week before I started, as I recall, they had set days to do that. So timing your 10 days will be crucial if that is still the system. Alliance Francaise has some online testing to determine level, which is convenient.

L'Institut Parisien won't allow students to enroll in those weekly rolling classes unless they are at least intermediate level. It sounds like your son may be, I know high school language classes don't usually get people to the same level as university classes in the same time, but if he's been taking 3-4 years, it should work.
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Sep 19th, 2011, 10:21 AM
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Thanks for all the great advice.

My son will be 15 in July and he will have finished 3 years of French. He has also done two weeks at the Alliance Française in NYC and has taken some private lessons. I guess, that will make him an advanced beginner by the time we go.

Staying with a family would be great. Maybe we can do that in a couple of years when he is older.
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May 19th, 2013, 09:31 PM
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What did you wind up doing? I am interested in taking my 13 year old to France this summer for a week so that my son can get some immersion (1/2 day daily) and also see some sights. Does anyone know any schools at this point that work well for that?
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May 21st, 2013, 10:37 AM
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That's a tough call, as 13 is too young for most schools I know about, not to mention only wanting a week of classes.

This is the only one I know, there might be others -- Accord which will take kids that young and will allow only a week class
http://www.accord-langues.com/Gb/frenchadultsete.php
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Jun 4th, 2013, 06:14 PM
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We just went there for a vacation for 16 days with no language course. My son did get a few chances to practice his French but nothing major. He attended Alliance Française in NYC instead, for a few weeks for two summers, and it was very helpful.

If your son is too young to attend a school, as Christina noted, you can consider a summer camp. At an open house at my son's high school I noticed an ad for a summer camp in Provence with language and cultural experience. It seemed very interesting. Unfortunately, I didn't get specific info that I could share with you because my son couldn't do it. I have heard of a family sending their kids at a much younger age to a summer camp in France for a few weeks. The parents vacationed nearby.
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