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“Amazing learning experience at Institut de Français!” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Institut de Francais

Institut de Francais
23 Ave General-Leclerc, 06230 Villefranche-sur-Mer, France
33 493 01 88 44
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Owner description: Language immersion courses for adults.
Nice, France
Level Contributor
7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Amazing learning experience at Institut de Français!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 8, 2013

I was very fortunate to spend one month at the Institut de Français in Villefranche-sur-Mer in May 2013. Having attained an intermediate level of French knowledge before arriving, what initially had attracted me to the school was their focus on improving speaking skills (often the hardest part of a foreign language to master!)..

I enjoyed such a positive experience during my time at the Institut. It was one of the best learning experiences of my life, and I will always look back on my time with very happy memories.

Having now attended 3 different French schools in France (plus several back in Australia), I can say with much certainty that the Insitut de Français really is the most effective and encouraging school I have ever attended.

The teaching philosophy is outstanding and very well-researched, and I found the focus on improving practical, oral French skills to be of the utmost value. This, combined with the Insitut's very thoughtful program structure, provided me (and so many others) with the ability to make strong progress in a very short time period - I am very proud of my results and can not thank the Institut enough for this. In fact, I have studied French since I was very young and feel that I have achieved a much stronger practical knowledge/oral skill set in one month at the Institut than I have in over 10 years of learning via traditional school-based institutions.

However, for me, the most impressive aspect of the school was the passion and enthusiasm exuded by all of the teaching (and non-teaching!) staff - and this enthusiasm and motivation was certainly infectious! My professors made a consistently strong effort to tailor the activities to suit my particular strengths/weaknesses and provide very personalised feedback and suggestions to improve my capabilities.

As a result, the staff have created and nurtured a very welcoming, positive and encouraging learning environment, unlike I've experienced before at any other school - the 8.5 hours/day of study certainly flew by!

And, of course, having a brilliant cohort of motivated, inclusive and friendly students only enriched the experience further for me!

My time at the Institut was invaluable, and I would be honoured to return one day to study there again.

My final words: If you are serious about learning French, go to the Institut - it is more than worth the cost. If you are looking to make big improvements in an efficient matter, this is the place for it!

I'm very happy to provide more specific feedback if you would like to know anything in particular!!!

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 13
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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84 reviews from our community

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English first
Warsaw, Poland
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“Fantastic school - fantastic professors & staff = fantastic experience”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 19, 2013

I have done two courses in Oct 2012 & Apr 2013 at the Institute and I want more! I do want to come back as I have been offered a super quality learning & teaching experience. My goal is to learn French in a French native environment, based on the proven academic though very practical method and the school perfectly meets my expectations. Add to it the very friendly, easily accessible & great professors, nice students and beautiful surroundings of Cote d'Azure & you end up in a place where the French fast learning progress becomes the reality.
I truly recommend Institut de Francais to those who like to have a combination of fantastic vacations with fantastic French exposure & experience. The return is guaranteed.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Level Contributor
32 reviews
9 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 46 helpful votes
“Learn French and meet new friends!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 11, 2013

I have taken two courses - in 2009 and 2012. Being a linguist I can say that the school does it best to teach you French and assure that you speak this language at the end of the course. Please do not expect a miracle - if you are a beginner you will not become truly advanced but in any case your level will be significantly improved. The position of the institute as well as the property itself is magnificent. The views are amazing, the atmosphere is fantastic! Besides it's always great to become a student again :)

Visited July 2012
Was this review helpful? Yes 2
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Woodland, California
Level Contributor
45 reviews
20 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 84 helpful votes
“Beautiful location, but definitely could use some changes”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed May 24, 2013

I researched schools in France for sometime and this one has been around for over 30 years and the reviews were great even though old. I did write a couple of people who said they enjoyed it so I decided to go for it. The apartment situation is ridiculous since the school will not show you any photos except 2 small generic ones but doesn't give you any of the apartment you will have, where it is or anything about it except that they will try and provide an upper level unit if requested. I kept calling to see why they wouldn't give any photos and for over $2500 for a 2 room, bedroom and small living area, they were annoyed that I asked. I am sorry but I don't know anyone who wants to rent an apartment without seeing it or knowing where it is for a month. Also, you have to pick your keys up at some cafe and after a 22 hour flight I decided to rent my own place. Frederic Latty was the one I had spoken to about the situation and he was very cold to me and could barely muster up a bonjour for the entire month.

The grounds of the school are beautiful but the facilities such as the classroom, lab and equipment are beyond old. I felt like a 10 year old in these tiny plastic chairs with the writing area attached and sitting in these for hours was very uncomfortable. The projector that is used is ancient and the lab room has a horrible musty odor and is in desperate need of a makeover. I couldn't believe how old everything was.

I will say my teacher was amazing and enjoyed every second of my time with him and the other teachers are very nice. There are many return students and one who was there for his 4th time and still in debutante level but he enjoyed it.

The chef, Natalie is a bit abrupt and I was scared of her since I was vegetarian and the food was really bland and totally unappetizing. She was actually quite nice to me the last couple of days and was pleasantly shocked. The breakfast is a tiny container of yogurt and a roll with coffee which is at 8:20-9:00 and our class didn't get lunch until 1:15 so I would advise anyone reading this to bring some snacks. The line at the coffee machine is a good 15 minutes and there is only one. Between waiting for the coffee and the bathroom your break is used up. The lights in the bathroom will go off so be prepared and make sure you find the switch so you can turn it on when it goes out.

The question is would I go back. No, I felt like they treated us like children and it really is amazing how people revert back to those days. Most were over 40. There are little groups that form quickly and then of course you have the show off type who have something to say about every little thing. I wasn't the best in the class, somewhere in the middle but my classmates were great and everyone made you feel comfortable when making a mistake.

The day is too long, at least it was for me and after 5 hours I couldn't retain anything. I think it would be better to have a shorter day or include excursions such as going to the market, or bank, something to break it up and get out. They did have dinners and outings to museums but that was an extra cost.

I can't say it was an awful experience but had I known everything, I would have made a different choice.

Visited April 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 28
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
12 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 35 helpful votes
“Good school, but might be better”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed May 14, 2013

My wife and I spent a month at L'Institut de Français in March 2013. Overall, we had a good time and improved our French. Given a number of rave reviews here, I will only briefly touch on the strengths of the school. Here are the most memorable positives:
1. You do speak only French 8 hours a day. You begin to think in French and start speaking more naturally, without mental translation.
2. All professors are excellent - very knowledgeable, able to explain things clearly, having good control over class and great sense of humor.
3. The time at school is well structured, all activities are well organized and smoothly run.
4. Villefranche and the school premises, especially the garden, are beautiful.
Now, I will dwell a little longer on some issues, because they are not covered in other reviews, but should be considered before enrolling. I also think some of them are easy to fix, and hope my review will speed things up.
1. The apartments assigned by the school are not all modern or nice. Unfortunately, the institute does not provide pictures of the apartments or disclose where they are located before you move in. If you don't like what you see, it is difficult to change the apartment, because administrators insist that you didn't specify your requirements clearly. Even though it costs more renting them through school, they are given to you not for a full month, but only for 27 days. Everyone needs to vacate their apartment by 9am Friday on the last day of classes. This makes for a very awkward transition - if your flight is late on Friday, your bags are delivered to the Institute and you have no chance to take a shower or relax before going to the airport.
2. On the first day of class the professor set a goal for us: speak correctly and with ease using limited vocabulary and grammar corresponding to our level (high-Intermediate in my case). However, there was too much grammar to learn, and even at the end we couldn’t speak with ease. The last week was especially difficult because we were given several new complicated structures.
3. The level of students in each group is uneven. In total, there are 8 different levels - Beginner 1 and 2, Intermediate 1,2,3,4, and Advanced 1 and 2. Every group has 10 students. A friend who took Beginner 1 class said that he wouldn't recommend this school for complete beginners, because many students in his group had already considerable skills in French and he was often behind and at a loss with what his group was doing. In my Intermediate 3 group, four people out of ten barely participated in the discussions.
4. For 80 students in school and 15 or so of staff, there are only 5 individual toilets. It is annoying to spend half of your break in line to visit the restroom. Another line is at the only coffee machine.
5. The language laboratory is stocked with rather old equipment - cassette recorders. Still, the lab could be really useful, but there is not enough time to practice. You can only go there with a group, and have time to repeat each phrase just twice. This is insufficient when learning a foreign language.
6. Some people had to miss classes because of the flu - March 2013 was rainy and cold. Even the ones missing a week or more had no luck getting a credit or discount for future classes at the institute.
7. Special vegetarian lunches were bland and over-steamed.
All these things are not deal-breakers, it is just surprising to find them in the otherwise impressive school. If you come prepared and set your expectations right, a month at L’Institut de Français might be a very rewarding experience.

Visited March 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 26
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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