Parlez Vous? Formal Instruction in French Language

While you can get by in Paris without speaking French (particularly if you speak English), it’s not a strategy I’d recommend.  You will be constantly frustrated, both by your inability to fully understand what is going on around you and your inability to say what needs to be said.   And the people with whom you are trying to communicate will get crabby too.  So do yourself a favor, even if you think you have no talent for languages, and make an effort. 

In the city of Paris, every mairie (town hall for the arrondissement) offers some kind of instruction for French language learners.  These vary in their intensity and quality; what they do have in common is they tend to be close to your home and the fees are quite reasonable.  The downside is that the instruction is variable and the classes often quite large. These sessions fill up quickly so don’t mess around once you figure out when registration will take place. 

There are dozens of options in Paris for language learners.  Here are a few that seem to pop up on everyone’s list. As always, leave a comment if you have information to share about these or other programs.

Alliance Francaise
101, boulevard Raspail
75006 Paris
Rolling enrollment; options range from 4 to 20 hours per week.

Ecole PERL
6, rue Spinoza
75011 Paris
Standard and intensive courses with class size limited to 15 students; rolling enrollment with courses starting throughout the year.

French As You Like It
Private French lessons focused on learning grammar and vocabulary for practical everyday purposes.  Learn the French you need for business or to go to the market.  Private and semiprivate (up to 4 students) offered for children as well. 

Institut Catholique de Paris
21, rue d’Assas
75006 Paris
A wide range of French language programs are offered on a traditional academic calendar, although there are also intensive short courses.

Institut de Langue Française (ILF)
3, avenue Bertie-Albrecht
75008 Paris
A variety of courses offered at all levels including private instruction and special courses for kids.  Standard courses are 10 or 20 hours per week with courses beginning the first of each month; classes limited to 15 students.

Institut Parisien
27, boulevard des Italiens
75002 Paris
General courses are for 15 or 20 hours per week with workshops also offered in conversation, phonetics, and written French.  One on one instruction is also available as is a special program for au pairs.

Lutece Langue
23, boulevard Sebastopol
75001 Paris
Intensive and standard courses with start dates every Monday.   This school also offers short courses for those whose schedules do not permit them to attend regular classes as well as private and semi-private tutoring. 

Paris Langues
30, rue Cabanis
75014 Paris
Small group instruction at range of levels with new courses starting each month; courses range from 2 weeks to 9 months.

Sorbonne
16 bis rue de l’Estrapade
75005 Paris
The Sorbonne’s courses in French language and civilization are suitable for levels from beginner to advanced.  There are a lot of options in terms of intensity, time of day, and focus.

Verlaine Langue
18, rue Martin Bernard
75013 Paris
Small group (no more than 6 students) with instruction daily (1.5 hours per day) and the expectation that you will complete 1.5 hours of homework daily.  Courses start every Monday.  No advanced courses.

Deciphering Acronyms Used by French Language Programs

CECR : Cadre Européen Commun de Référence
CERT: Certification
CFTJ : Club Français du Tourisme des Jeunes
CIDJ : Centre d’Information et de Documentation Jeunesse
CIJP : Centre International des Jeunes à Paris
CIEP : Centre International d’étude Pédagogique
DALF : Diplôme d’Approfondissement de la Langue Française
DELF : Diplôme d’étude en Langue Française
ECTS: European Credit Transfer System
FLE : Français Langue Étrangère
TCF : Test de Connaissance du Français
TEF : Test d’Évaluation du Français

Special thanks to Maureen Bartee for collecting much of this information.

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6 responses to “Parlez Vous? Formal Instruction in French Language

  1. thank you for this list. this is a huge help for me. i am planning on being in paris for the month of june 2011 and i have been looking for language schools. thank you!

    • This list is a huge help as I will arrive in Paris this 29th of October and stay for a hole year and my french knowledge is zero.
      Just one question. How much does one beginners course cost?
      Thanks

  2. Could I suggest another for your list? It’s called ELFE (École de Langue Française) and located in the 1st (15 rue Montmartre) – http://www.elfe-paris.com. They have small groups (mini-groupes) and/or private tuition. I did an intensive two weeks prep for my DELF B1 here and I passed with flying colours. Can’t speak highly enough of the staff. Not cheap though.

  3. Good list ! Thank you ! Personally I tried with Sorbonne and the teacher was quiet good but we were 22 in the class :/
    But I’ve just tried with another little school that is not in your list called “initiativesformations” and it was very nice. This is quiet new, I waited a little to start classes because they needed more students to open it but i really enjoyed and like my teacher and… we were 8 in the class ;)
    the website : http://www.initiativesformations.com
    Now I’m looking for french courses in Toulouse

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