More pragmatically, however, what are the criteria required to enjoy a truly successful language immersion course in France ? When it comes to schools that specialise in teaching a foreign language, how do you avoid disappointment and make the right choice? Which factors should be decisive in picking a language immersion course in France?
First and foremost, immersion optimises learning time, as students are obliged to use their “target language” in every aspect of daily life (buying things, making various requests, engaging in everyday conversation, and so on). By staying with a host family or in a residence, students will have the chance to communicate with native speakers other than their teacher. For beginners, this is really useful as it enables them to put into practice what they have learned in class (describing situations, asking questions, thanking people, accepting invitations, etc.).
Advanced learners, meanwhile, will be able to expand their informal vocabulary and use idiomatic language in context. After all, if you want to get to know a country and a language, what better way than to live alongside the locals? Any stay in a foreign country is a fantastic way to make progress, as well as to meet people and forge long-lasting friendships.
The choice of city and region which will provide the backdrop for your study is absolutely critical. The joys to be found during several weeks in Brittany or the Loire Valley are quite different to those on offer if you’re staying on the Côte d’Azur: it’s all a question of personal taste. Equally, large urban areas do not always deliver the ideal learning conditions, due to the noisy environment and the fact that locals are less inclined to chat. Small towns have their own disadvantages (a lack of cultural facilities, poor public transport provision, etc.). Antibes, however, is a medium-sized town with a whole host of advantages in terms of tourism and culture!
Located around 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Nice Airport, the beaches and old town of Antibes attract numerous visitors every year. Jacques Audiberti (1899–1965), a famous writer from the town, sought the words to describe his love for this walled city: “I remember one day being so struck by Antibes, it was as if I’d been hit by lightning...”
Activity programmes are an important part of learning, helping students to discover a region and promoting social contact. Make sure to check that the activities on offer at your chosen school match your personality and tastes!
Are you sporty or do you prefer cultural activities? At the Centre International d’Antibes, you can get to know the “walled city” with a guided tour, while some programmes offer cultural visits to neighbouring towns and cities like Saint-Paul de Vence, Grasse and Monaco.
If a language immersion course is to be successful, it is important to monitor students’ progress. Each learner therefore has a record sheet that is used to keep track of what they have achieved and highlight the skills they should work on. Every Friday, class assessments revise the areas studied during the week.
It’s also worth checking out the maximum number of learners per class to avoid any unpleasant surprises once your course begins. Make sure that the school has a clear, detailed commercial website! This is a good indicator of a school’s quality and will help you to make an informed decision.
In addition, the presence of a dynamic and skilled teaching team at the school is a factor to take into consideration before making your final selection. A student’s progress depends not only on their own efforts, but also the commitment and motivation of their teacher!
A school which has been operating for many years and hosts thousands of students of all nationalities is clearly able to offer a quality experience. Every year, 7,000 students from nearly 50 different countries place their trust in the Centre International d’Antibes. When you bear in mind that the school has 36 years’ experience of teaching French, it is evident that Antibes is a smart choice.
To avoid disappointment, it’s a good idea to verify that your chosen school is officially accredited. The Centre International d’Antibes French-language school has held the Qualité FLE certification since 2007.
The Qualité FLE certification offers a guarantee that students will receive an education that complies with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) and that they will be regularly assessed. It is also an indicator that the school has a team of qualified and competent teachers. Finally, the certification also assesses other factors, such as the quality of welcome for students, how students are monitored, compliance with safety regulations and overall working conditions.
Finally, if you’re looking at an immersion course for children or teenagers, make sure to explain carefully to them why such a trip will be beneficial. This experience shouldn’t be something that children have imposed on them by their parents.
On the contrary, young people should be aware that this is an opportunity for them to learn French in a more fun way, as well as to make new friends and discover the great country of France!