The best way to learn French or any foreign language for that matter is in the country where they speak it. Learning a foreign language not only demands an understanding of the syntax and grammar of that language but also of the culture. And so, to learn French, it is vital to live in a francaphonic country. And where better to study French than the birthplace of French its self, La France.
If you’re a high school or college student, there are a variety of opportunities for you to study in France. For high school students, 16 years of age or older, there are countless companies devoted to organizing exchanges. These include, International Student exchange, AFS Intercultural programs, and ASSE International Student Exchange programs. On the other hand, if you are a college student, you should have no problem organizing an exchange to France through your school. Almost all universities in the United States have links to French universities and subsequently offer exchange programs. However, if your school does not offer an exchange to your desired city in France, it is possible to do an exchange through a university that does. One of the best websites to discover the exchange programs that schools offer is studyabroad.com. Additionally, for non-students or business professionals , ESL language studies abroad offers great programs for French courses in France. More, if you prefer, ESL also offers opportunities to learn French in Switzerland.
Once you have arranged your program, you are going to want to have at least a basic understanding of French. Fortunately, with hundreds of English cognates, French is one of the easiest languages for English speakers to learn. There are a few different language-learning programs that offer lessons for both the beginner and more advanced student. The first, cheapest and one of the most helpful programs if you have a lot of motivation, is “Teach Yourself French.” For 40$ it comes with a comprehensive book and audio CDs. If you’re committed, it’s really a great resource at a bargain. Another language learning program is Rosetta Stone. This is really for the lazy learner and comes at a serious price, 500$. Finally, another expensive yet extremely effective language program is the Pimsleur series. Also around 500$, it is no small investment, however, it will get you speaking French relatively well. The 90 half hour lessons are very effective and practically oriented towards those who want to actually converse in French. Another great resource to get you started, and a free one at that, can be found on the BBC language website here, http://www.bbc.co.uk/languages/french/talk/.
Now that you have found your exchange and have a basic knowledge of French, you are going to need to know what life in France in all about. Though most things you will learn as you live there, below are a few tips you should know before hand. 1) The French are extremely proud of their language and will often scoff at you for your lack of language ability. Don’t take it personally though, that’s just how it goes. 2) The main meal of the day is Lunch. 3) Always use Vous when addressing strangers or acquaintances for the first time.
In the end, learning French in France, is an experience that is a must for any student interested in the French language. Since language and culture are intrinsically tied together, it is essential to immerse yourself in the culture to achieve a greater understanding of the language. So, fear not, be brave and study French in France!