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6 Places to Study French Outside of France

Guadeloupe Brussels Languages
by Anne Merritt Mar 31, 2011
Anne Merritt describes six French study abroad programs from the Caribbean to Africa.

I learned French in a popular Anglo-Canadian way: attending an immersion school as a child. There, I studied timidly under stern French Canadian teachers, never realizing how lucky I was to be learning this way.

As a teacher, I now recognize how great immersion can be for a language learner. As a traveler, I now recognize how valuable French is, and not just for weekends in Montreal. Until recently, French was the most commonly studied second language in the world, and is an official national language on five continents. For the French speaker, travel options are broad.

For the French language learner looking for some immersion studies, study options are broad too. If you’re keen to take a course abroad, you don’t have to sweat the prices in Paris or the dreary winter forecasts in Marseille. French study opportunities are all over the map.

1. Guadeloupe: Inter Média Langues Caraïbes

There are several language schools in Saint Anne, but Inter Média Langues Caraïbes, a small 4-classroom institution, has gotten glowing reviews for its integration of local culture with language learning. The classes are small with a maximum of six students, and activities include dance, cooking, sailing and drum-making. An added perk? The building itself is just blocks from the beach.

Accreditation: FLE
Academic credit: Can be arranged through its affiliates, including West Chester University.
Exam preparation: DELF, TEF, CCIP
Accommodation: Homestay or shared apartment
Cost of classes: Courses start at $405/week, including course materials and excursions. Homestays start at $49/night.

2. Belgium: BDLF Brussels

This “a la carte” immersion program, run by a staff of three, arranges accomodation, intensive language learning, and excursions. Course timetables include half-day or full-day lessons, leaving plenty of time to explore the Belgian sights and stuff your face with waffles and beer; hey, it’s immersion, right?

If you’re ready to put your French skills to work, the company arranges internships in Brussels too.

Accredation: Alliance Francaise
Academic Credit: No
Exam Prep: No
Accomodation: Homestay, private or shared apartment
Cost of Classes: Packages are available, with courses, room and board, starting at $754/week.

3. Senegal: African Consultants International in Dakar

This US-owned nonprofit was founded by an American couple who met working in the Peace Corps in the sixties. Their institute of language and cultural training was founded almost 30 years ago. Classes are small, up to six students, with affordable rates for private lessons. Lessons are focused on communicative learning.

The institute also organizes cultural exploration workshops, held in English and French, to help newcomers better understand Senegalese life.

Accreditation: The Study Abroad program is accredited by several US universities
Academic credit: Yes
Exam preparation: No
Accommodation: Homestays are available close to the school.
Cost of classes: Private instruction is $30/hour. A class with multiple students starts at $10/hour.

4. Canada: University of Quebec in Trois Rivieres

These spring or summer courses are hugely popular with Anglo-Canadian university students hoping to brush up on their French. The curriculum consists of intensive morning language courses and afternoon workshops in topics like media or music. Students also take field trips to Montreal and Quebec City. Fun fact: Trois Rivieres is the home of that oft-parodied internet meme, the Star Wars kid.

Accreditation: Languages Canada, AUCC
Academic credit: Yes
Exam preparation: No
Accommodation: Shared student accommodation on-campus
Cost of classes: An intensive 6-week course, with room and board, costs $2363 for Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and $2753 for non-Canadians.

5. Switzerland: ESL Montreux

Don’t be confused, the acronym ESL means “Ecole Suisse de Langues.” Their locations include Montreux, Switzerland, on Lake Geneva at the base of the Swiss Alps. There are certainly less scenic places to study.

Courses place an emphasis on communication and maximum interaction between teacher and student. The classes are small in size: 8-12 students. Applicants can take 20, 25, or 30 course hours per week.

Accreditation: Lots, including EAQUALS and the Swiss Federation of Private Schools.
Academic credit: No
Exam preparation: DELF, TCF, e-TEF
Accommodation: Homestay, student apartment, hostel or hotel
Cost of classes: The weekly price will go down the longer you stay on. A 2-week intensive course costs $575/week. An 8-week course will cost $500/week. There is a 10% high season supplement on fees in the summer and a 10% low season discount in winter.

6. Morocco: ILCS Rabat

French is considered to be Morocco’s unofficial second language, spoken widely and used in commerce. The Institute of Leadership and Communication Studies offers four-week intensive summer French programs, incorporating Moroccan culture lectures into the curriculum. The course includes a five-day trip into the desert. The institute also arranges volunteer programs in the area, with farming and health awareness as focal projects.

Accreditation: Moroccan Ministry of Higher Education
Academic credit: Yes
Exam preparation: No
Accommodation: Homestay
Cost of classes: $3450 for 4 weeks of room and board, courses, and excursions.

Community Connection

If you want to learn French in France, check out Matador’s guide to How to Learn French for Free.

Have you studied French abroad? If so, share your experiences and recommendations in the comment section.

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