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!!!