When it comes to learning a new language, you'll need to dedicate lots of time and effort. After all, learning French is a big endeavor and will take many years. It'll be a while before you truly feel confident and fluent in the language, but language immersion is a great way to speed up the process.
Language immersion programs are highly recommended, no matter which language you're learning. As a French language learner, this remains true. In fact, completing a 9-month language immersion program was how I learned French! Wherever you are in your language learning journey, an immersion program is always a great idea.
Why Do an Immersion Program?
Even if you're already highly motivated to learn French, doing a language immersion program can further motivate you! You'll be in direct contact with the language every day and will get to experience the culture and local way of living for the full duration of your time abroad.
In addition to exploring a new language, city, and culture, you'll also achieve a higher level of fluency. For French learners that are determined to sound more native or become fluent as soon as possible, language immersion programs are really the best way to go. After all, a study abroad trip will force you to use your target language every day in order to get around.
Don't get me wrong: Immersion programs can be scary and you may feel isolated at first, but they're really the best thing you can do when it comes to nailing the French language. Plus, you'll make new, international friends and develop important skills that you can use later on in life.
4 Tips For Choosing an Immersion Program
Now, when it comes time to choose your French immersion program, you don't just want to choose the first program you come across. When I planned my French immersion trip, I spent a lot of time analyzing every company I came across before finally deciding on one.
Here are four tips that I kept in mind (and that I suggest you do too) when choosing your French language program:
#1. Know Your Budget
There are dozens of companies and programs that will offer fantastic French language immersion programs and study abroad opportunities, but not all of them will fit within your budget. Before you start looking around, take some time to decide on a budget and try to look for a French program that doesn't exceed this.
Remember to be realistic about your budget. Keep in mind what the company offers (room, board, flights, hours of class, etc.) and budget accordingly. While you won't be able to find a 9-month program that includes room and board for $3,000, you may be able to find a 2-week program that does.
#2. Decide on a City
France has so many beautiful cities that are worth exploring! Paris is not your only option and (if you want my personal opinion) may not be worth it. While you should definitely take some time to visit the capital city, you may find that living there isn't worth the high costs and long commutes.
When thinking about where you want to go, keep in mind safety, cost, and what type of city you want to be in. Some people don't mind the rush of Paris, but others want something a little more laid back and calm like Nice or Bordeaux.
#3. Look at Reviews
It's easy to fall in love with an immersion program based on photos and written promises on the company website, but look at reviews. I cannot stress this enough! A lot of companies are great at posting beautiful photos and making their French immersion programs sound perfect, but they may have horrible reviews. Take the time to research a company before deciding.
#4. Keep an Open Mind
Sometimes, you find the perfect immersion program, but the dates don't line up or they don't offer a location that you want. Unfortunately, no company will tick all the boxes. When you're researching, keep an open mind and consider different options if you need to.
8 Best Immersion Programs for French Learners
If you've already tried an online French language exchange and you're ready to dive in to full immersion, here are some of the best programs to consider.
EF's French immersion program is notoriously one of the best, and it's the program I chose. While it is spendy, EF has nailed the art of teaching students of all levels. They offer programs as short as 2 weeks or as long as a year and their classes are taught entirely in French (even for beginners). As such, you'll progress very quickly. If you have a higher budget or you're willing to splurge on your language learning endeavor, I cannot recommend EF enough!
#2. Institut de Français
The Institut de Français offers French classes on the Mediterranean coast near the city of Nice. The program is only for those over 21 and runs for 2-4 weeks. It's one of the cheaper options (between €2,900 and €5,800), but it doesn't include room and board. However, the school does have housing options available at an additional cost.
#3. Eurolingua Institute
The Eurolingua Institute has locations in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Luxembourg, Monaco, and Canada for French language learners and accepts students aged 16-75. They also offer online programs. Prices vary depending on how long you stay and how many hours of class per week you want, but for all locations, the cost includes a private room and full board in a homestay.
Explore is a program funded by the Canadian government. There are programs for those aged 13-15 and programs for those 16 and older. The cost includes room and board as well as tuition, cultural activities, and all study materials. The program only lasts for 31-33 days, but it's great for those who just want something short.
Another Canadian option is Edu-Inter. The unique thing about this program is that you're able to focus your French studies on topics like business, music, and other various subjects. They have multiple start dates and different programs that allow you to further cater your French immersion experience to your tastes.
For French learners interested in Switzerland, Alpadia is a good program to look into. Immersion programs are priced on a per week basis and they offer a few different lodging options during your stay. They only have one Swiss location (Montreaux), but it's located right on the lake and not too far from Lausanne. They also have a school in Lyon, France.
CERAN is a Belgian-based school, though they do have some locations in France as well. Their flagship school is in Spa, Belgium where you can not only meet other language learners and improve your French, but also relax right on campus.
#8. The American University of Paris
If you're looking for a university-level course, the American University of Paris offers a 3-week summer program. There are two pricing options: with course credit and without course credit. Classes are the same no matter which option you choose, so it will depend on your budget when it comes to choosing. Keep in mind there are additional fees for both options.
Making the Choice
As you can see, there are a lot of different French immersion programs out there in various countries. While many French learners choose Paris for their study abroad adventure, it's not necessarily the best choice for everyone. If you have a special interest in a particular Francophone region, then you may decide to look for language immersion programs in that area.
Making the choice to complete a French language immersion program can be daunting, but it's the best thing you could possibly do for your French. Whether you go for a handful of weeks or several months, you won't regret your trip. You'll make new friends, explore a new part of the world, and make longlasting memories. Just make sure to take your time searching for a great, reputable program and don't be afraid to dive in!