Parlez-vous francais?

Old Jun 6th, 2002, 07:19 AM
  #1  
Annette
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Parlez-vous francais?

OK, so here's my dilemma: I've recently returned from a week in Paris and am
struggling with those "travel blues" (not to mention how frustrated I was at
not being able to communicate beyond my very basic knowledge of the french
language). Basically I'd like to
learn to speak french fluently. Yes, I could take a course here (NYC) at
L'Alliance Francaise (and plan to this summer); however what I'm considering
is a bit more adventurous---spending next summer in Paris to take courses at
La Sorbonne. I've read the posts about studying abroad and re-locating
abroad (and have perused La Sorbonne's website). Background: I'm in my mid
30's, single, w/o children, took high school & college french (graduated
college in '91); work full time (so an exchange student program isn't an
option for me). I may be romanticizing this entire issue; I realize vacation
is exactly that---a vacation and is not representative of living somewhere.
As for Europe, I've been to Rome, Florence, Pisa, Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo
and Paris. (Trip to London this
fall). Does anyone have suggestions for how a "not so young" student can
learn french abroad? Thx so much and pls. forgive my verbose post.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 07:29 AM
  #2  
Christina
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I've written on this several times as I did it (studying twice in Paris), so you probably read my posts. I think going to one of those intensive summer programs in Paris at a good institution is one of the best ways. So, I don't see anything wrong with that plan (going to summer sessions at Sorbonne). You aren't that old that it should make any difference IMO -- well, not much, it is true a lot of the summer students at the Sorbonne are more college age to early 20s, but plenty are older. I didn't start studying French until I was about 38 and then went to Paris to study twice after that. So, what are your concerns about what's wrong with doing that? I did prefer the classes and ambience a little more at l'Institut Catholique de Paris, to be honest -- they have an older crowd because a lot of teachers and nuns/brothers go there in the summer. Their residence halls were far superior to the Sorbonne's in that regard, much nicer, cleaner and quieter. Also, they are a little more centrally located than the Cite Universitaire the Sorbonne has. This was nice for going out at night and even being able to go back to your room after classes for lunch and to get rid of your books, etc, before going around town to do other stuff. Going back to the Cite Universitaire in the middle of the day was a big pain so I didn't do it very often.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 07:30 AM
  #3  
Kerry
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Annette go for it. Do it now while you are single. There is a great site that perhaps would answer a lot of your questions it is www.paris-anglo.com. Also there is a book you should buy called "Culture Shock France". It is actually a series of books (each country should have one) that I have found to be very useful. It delves into the nuances of another culture that you may or may not know. Good luck and follow your passion!
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 11:07 AM
  #4  
Sue
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The Centre Linguistique pour Etrangers (CLE)in Tours is a great place for a total immersion experience. I studied there a few years ago for only 2 wks, and whereas that wasn't long enough, it certainly helped me brush up on my skills. Check out their website. I'd read about it in NYT a few years before I went, and it lived up to my expectations. Very small classes,max. of 7 or 8. Housing with Fr. family, if you choose, and I would highly recommend that. Close enough to Paris (less than 2 hrs. on TGV for weekend fun), but not the distractions that Paris would present daily. In Loire valley, great place on its own. All ages--ranged from 18 thru 60ies; there were 7 levels, and seemed that most people had at least some knowledge before they arrived. Fun way to learn/further Fr. lang. competency. I was in my mid-fifties and "hung out" with the folks in my class, from 18 yr. old Belgian woman to 60 something Englishman. Super experience.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 11:21 AM
  #5  
motive
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Unless you plan to work on a doctoral thesis or have some other need for totally polished French, I'm not sure why you would want to do this. Aside from having a good reason to relocate to Paris, and nothing wrong with that!

I took high school and college French also and I get by quite well. My grammar is not always perfect and there are the occasional malapropism or missing words, but I've never fooled anyone into thinking I was a native, and none of this hinders the ability to communicate on quite a complex level. Only know one person who is able to "pass for French" and he is a German who has lived in France for 15 years, tho spoken French as 3rd language since birth. Most French people are shocked to find out he's not French!!!

As far as I can tell, the lanugauge course that you are thinking about would not be much advanced from 3rd or 4th year French and perhaps not to college level, just FYI.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 12:07 PM
  #6  
ttt
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top
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 12:18 PM
  #7  
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[email protected]
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 02:16 PM
  #8  
Christina
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I'm not sure motive understands the Sorbonne's summer classes, but you aren't "relocating" to France when you take a summer school class. I think that was a mistake that Annette used that word. I don't understand how someone can't think of a good reason to want to study French in Paris? Maybe because it's fun and a wonderful opportunity and because it is a dirt cheap way to vacation in France for a month or two.

Also, the Sorbonne has all levels of classes from beginner up to professor level, I don't understand the comment that it is only college-level language. Language professors often go there to study to beef up their credentials and because it is tax deductible, I think, and they may get a pay raise or something with their school for those credits. YOu take a placement test and are then put into the appropriate level. Someone who has only had French in HS and college and not used it much since then is definitely not going to have to worry about being above what they teach. I was in a class with high school teachers at the Sorbonne, as well as French majors, and at L'Institut Catholique I was in a class with college French professors and professional translators.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 02:22 PM
  #9  
Christina
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oh, I did have a comment that I think l'Institut Catholique's classes do go to a higher level, so if you were a French teacher or very advanced, it might be better to go there than the Sorbonne. However, at the level Annette describes, that will not be an issue. But, I hope you aren't over-estimating how easy it is to get fluent in French, Annette. You won't get fluent in a couple months starting with your current level. Since you've taken language, you probably know that, but almost everyone has studied some foreign language in HS and I'm amazed at how many people think they can become fluent in a foreign language in a few weeks or months.

I love studying languages and consider learning one better to be a worthwhile goal in itself; I do it just because I like languages and learning, not because I "need" to.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 02:53 PM
  #10  
MBrown
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Annette,

I took 2 semesters of classes at La Sorbonne or to be precise, Les Cours de Civilisation et Langue Francaise de La Sorbonne. I finished this past January. The classes are given in several locations, some around the Pantheon, some just across the river from Notre Dame, and others near Metro Raspail. The location is pot luck based on the class you are assigned to.

I found the classes to be excellent. The teachers are very professional. They take their job very seriously. The phonetics classes are excellent. I cannot believe that I studied french in HS and college and was never given a phonetics class. It is truely the foundation of the language.

As far as age is concerned I am 32 and did not feel out of place. Yes the majority of the students were younger but my first semester there was a 60 year old woman in my class. Dont let age stop you. The classes are very intensive and will require a large amount of your free time in homework etc. But you will progress rapidly.

The only downside is that the classes tend to be large. One of my classes had about 25 people in it. So you have less face time with the teacher. However, they are cheaper than most other places. I had a friend that went to the alliance francaise the second semester and got alot more face time with the teachers. However, the "teachers" were more like french college students making an extra buck. So the quality of teaching wasnt as high.

If you place high enough, consider taking the business french option. There were only about 10 people in my class. The only diffence between that and the literature option is that you read current event articles from the news paper and spend some time learning some work enviroment vocab. In lit you will read voltaire or something to that effect.

Why not take a semester session? Summer classes are more expensive and Paris is loaded with tourists. Take the fall semester and experience Paris!

Good luck. Let me know if you have any specific questions about the classes. I will try my best to answer them.
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 05:55 PM
  #11  
Mignon
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Try visiting Quebec.It's closer, cheaper because of the depressed Canadian$$, and beautiful.Bienvenue,
Mignon
 
Old Jun 6th, 2002, 06:23 PM
  #12  
Sue
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Annette, do it - you are definitely not too old! I'm in my 60's, and have been working on my French for the past year - you are never too old for self-improvement, and learning another language is certainly that. I would love to go to Paris and study French for the summer, and my 60+ age would not hold me back. Family matters do that! I have taken some classes at Alliance Francaise in the city where I live, and they are good, but an immersion course somewhere would be terrific. I also took a Berlitz course, and got a great deal out of that, but extremely expensive. At this point I'm listening to Berlitz Advanced French Course tapes everyday, and am doing great with it. Recently returned from a 10 day trip to Paris, and felt so good to be able to speak half-way understandable French! And I intend to keep right on with this learning process forever.
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 01:47 AM
  #13  
Chris
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Had nothing but career profs at Alliance Francaise -- except one who was going to grad school to teach French as a foreign language (and she was the best prof of them all).
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 05:51 AM
  #14  
Annette
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Thank you for your encouragement and insights. I'll clarify (as Christina pointed out), what I meant in referring to "re-locating". I only meant that I had searched on fodors for any and all information relating to study abroad as well as re-locating abroad. I understand these are 2 distinct concepts, but just figured I'd consider both. Since I've posted here, I've done more research and it appears there are many options for me. I know I won't become fluent in the language solely through a summer course, but I can enhance my knowledge by going to french language films, lectures, cultural events. (Besides, I met someone in Paris with whom I can practice the language). I've always believed life is short, so I think I'm going to do this. Thanks again.
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 07:37 AM
  #15  
Annette
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Christina: on La Sorbonne's website for University summer courses, a requirement is a "diploma equivalent to French baccalaureat". What's that?
Thx again.
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 08:05 AM
  #16  
Violet
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Annette - I also took french in high school and university. Graduated many years ago. I was taking a few courses at the local community college and was fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of a summer program they offered. There is a company in San Francisco "Accent International" that helps schools around the country with summer programs in Europe. They have programs in Paris, London, Florence, German, and Spain. I spent 5 weeks in Paris in July 2000. It was a wonderful experience. We had classes in the morning and tours in the afternoon. There was plenty of down time and I made friends with others in our group. We went to Normandy and Brittany one weekend. The cost was minimal and included room, board, all entrance fees, etc. The only thing that was separate was the airfare. GO FOR IT. It was the best summer ever. Don't wait until you are 50 like it did. As for relocating - it's difficult for an American to get a job in France (or anywhere else in Europe) with the EU. They will hire someone from Britain first. Good Luck.
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 08:06 AM
  #17  
mimi taylor
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Annette, a friend is in her late 40s and she did the summer course at the Sorbonne and loved it.
 
Old Jun 7th, 2002, 08:34 AM
  #18  
clairobscur
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Annette,


The "baccalaureat" is the high school final exam. People who got their "baccalaureat" are "bacheliers" (think "bachelor's degree"...though it isn't the same thing, both words have the same origin)


It's a big event here, since it's organized at the national level (all kids who choose the same specializations will have the same exams at exactly the same time) and it lasts for more than a week. It's sometimes called "the great mass". It will begin in a dozen of days or so, and there are already reports on TV, etc...700 000 french kids and their parents are currently holding their breath...Though now, having your "baccalaureat" won't help you much to find a job, it's still important in the french collective mind. Kind of a rite of passage to adulthood...And it's also mandatory to enter universities, usually.


That said, I can't help you about your original question and don't know what will be considered as equivalent to the "baccalaureat". *Logically*, a high school diploma should be enough. Since you went to college, it shouldn't be an issue.
 
Old Jun 20th, 2002, 05:30 AM
  #19  
Amy
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Annette-
I think this is such a great idea, in fact, it's one that I've had myself. I posted a similar question a couple of months ago. I'm also a New Yorker and was thinking about beefing up my French at Alliance Francaise this summer (...unless you can suggest a better class). Anyway, good luck! Keep us posted on your search!
 
Old Jun 20th, 2002, 06:22 PM
  #20  
Annette
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Finally registered at French Institute Alliance Francaise last night (the last day to sign up for summer classes). I took a brief placement (written) test; then interviewed with a teacher who placed me in an Advanced Beginner class. I'm really excited about this; thanks to all for your posts. Amy, you can reach FIAF at 212.355.6100 or the website: www.fiat.org

Bonne chance!
 
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