To understand the French, in my opinion, you have to love food! It is a big part of the culture. Yes, they are the masters of fashion, they love to talk about religion and politics, they make and drink the best wine, they smoke, they can be snobs, but ultimately if you accept their food just the way it is served, you have embraced the culture. I am not an expert on French culture, but when I go there I watch people, I observe how they interact, how they walk, how they interact when in line, what they share and not share while they are getting their hair done (which is read news or magazine, unlike what we do in US). So, as the saying goes, when in Rome do as the Romans do, do the same in France. Here is a really great reference on French culture.
I was told, to speak French properly and learn about the culture of France (not Paris) you must go to Tours, the Chateaux country! So, off I went to learn French from the land of Royals!
If you don’t know a word of French, think again, you do!!! 60% of English words are similar to French. Seriously! We are all children of Latin.
If you want to learn French, there are many online resources and these free sites:
- Learn French from TV5 Monde
- Learn French from duolingo
- Learn French from Youtube
- Listen to French music, anything will do
- Listen to French podcasts, anything on your mobile phone
- Watch and Listen to French News on 24
Once you decide if French is for you, then consider taking classes at the local college under continued education. Oui, J’aime la langue Française, then you can check out your local Alliance Française for a more French experience.
Finally, when you are ready to attend school in France, enroll in any of the Alliance Française approved schools, outside of Paris! I found people outside Paris to be more patient and appreciative of foreigners who want to learn French. Also, often people in smaller regions don’t speak English (or your native tongue) so chances of learning French faster is GREAT.
Here is a list of schools that I attended in the order of recommendations only based on my personal experience, which is based on quality of the teachers, mix of students, environment, extracurricular activities such as excursions and cultural experiences, and improvement in my French comprehension. I want to say that all my teachers in each of the schools were superb and made all the difference in my learning, so Merci Prof Rose-Marie, Genevieve, Christian, et Sylvie!
- Pole University Cavilam- I loved this school in Vichy.
- International Institute of language- IS Aix en-Provence under the blue skies of beautiful Provence.
- L’institut de Touraine- this school has history and reputation in the land of Royals.
- An excellent resource if you don’t want to contact the school directly is ESL, choose a region and look up the information
Here are some wonderful pictures of the classrooms/classmates and th schools I have attended so far: