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“A delightful, productive month” 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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Type: Educational Sites
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Attraction Details
Owner description: Language immersion courses for adults.
tiburon
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“A delightful, productive month”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 17, 2014

I attended L'Institut de Francais in April 2014. It was my second trip there, having attended in March 2013. I cannot say enough good things about the entire experience. The program is excellent--I learned so much more in this immersion program than I have ever before in my( many) college and private classes. The method is geared toward speaking and communication. French is spoken all day, without exception, by everyone. This is not as difficult as it might seem , even for beginners. The school may not have lots of bells and whistles, but it does not need them. The" Language Lab" is used in such a way that the low-tech aspect has no impact on the value. Every professor there is a professional and has the patience of Job. They never seem to be out of sorts; they are always encouraging and helpful. They are very likeable and very French. The food is good, and I opted for the vegetarian menu. The breakfast is a French continental breakfast--you are , after all, in France. I loved the coffee and tea!
Villefranche itself is charming. I liked the daily shopping routine at the little "Casino" grocery stores. There is something gratifying about walking to a small family owned grocery store and buying just as much as you can comfortably carry home. The hills are not that challenging , and I am not an athlete , nor am I young. My accommodations, through the school ,were very good, and I think, a very good value. The other students are great! Both years I met some of the nicest, most interesting people. This year especially, my class "L'equipe" as we now call ourselves, made every day fun. I recommend this school to anyone who wants to improve his/her spoken French. I will certainly go back :)

Visited April 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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English first
Dublin, Ireland
Senior Reviewer
6 reviews 6 reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
9 helpful votes 9 helpful votes
“Tough, challenging - but what an experience!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 5, 2014

I spent four weeks at the Institut in April 2014. There are many schools teaching French around the world. To succeed and make the most out of your time in Villefranche-sur-Mer, it is essential to understand that this school has been using this method for a long time. You are told this on the first day. Work with the system during your time there and your French will blossom. As previous commentators have mentioned, they don’t want you working outside their box. It doesn't suit the method and it doesn't suit the teaching of the entire class.

Like most students, I found it stressful. Some days and many moments, I wondered why I had signed up for the course as I felt that I was been picked on! Most nights, I woke up with French words flying around my head. The constant immersion technique can be mentally exhausting.

I was in a class of mixed abilities. One or two had good academic and/or oral French and wanted to work at their level sometimes to the detriment of the running of the class – particularly for weaker members. I never experienced rudeness or favouritism in my class. My teacher was tough but she was fair. Taking charge of a disparate group of mature adults can be difficult. As stated above, work with the system and your French will progress significantly. Work against it, and you will not enjoy or get the most out of your time there.

Looking back from the comfort of home, I realise that I have never had a better learning experience. I had taken time off a busy job to do the course. After the second day, work stresses had faded into the abyss. I was being challenged and stretched every minute of the day. Now, I am already scared of what I have forgotten. I am going back as soon as I can.

Visited April 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Melbourne, Australia
Senior Contributor
25 reviews 25 reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
24 helpful votes 24 helpful votes
“Very good, but could have been better.”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 28, 2014 via mobile

I just completed a month at the Institut de Francais. My oral French improved dramatically. The school is very well organised, the daily schedule runs like a Swiss watch, the food was generally very good, the support staff were mostly very helpful. The daily 'Seances practiques' were excellent.

Most time at the Institut is spent in your class with your classmates. In my class the skill level of the students varied considerably to the point that it created problems for the teacher. Unfortunately the teacher did not deal with this well, she became impatient and at times rude and sarcastic. On one occasion two students were reduced to tears. As the course progressed the teacher began to favour a couple of students by allowing them significantly more speaking time in class. She would also direct more questions to these particular students, giving little attention to the remainder of the class.

During my month I met some other students in other levels who had the same disappointing experience the previous year with the same teacher.

The teaching method is very rigid and at times tough, but it seems to work for most students, but perhaps not for everyone.

The most important comment I can make is that I would return to the Institut de Francais, but only with different teacher.

My class time could have been much more enjoyable and happier than it was. I heard many positive comments about other classes and the fun they had while learning.

Visited April 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 20
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
NZ
1 review
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Je vais revenir - c'etait magnifique”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2014

L'Institut surpassed my expectations. The teaching and method were excellent, the organisation faultless and the support systems (including food and extra-curricular activities) very good. I was placed in intermediate 4 (there were two advanced classes also) and was very happy with there judgement on my beginner level. There is good feedback through the 4 weeks and progress is measured at the end. I could never had made so much progress without the intensity of this experience. I think for me it was made even better by my choice to rent a private room locally rather than room with other students. I struck it lucky, staying with a patient French-only speaker whose evening company helped me progress and consolidate the day's school work.

Visited March 2014
Was this review helpful? Yes 7
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Perth
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
11 helpful votes 11 helpful votes
“A wonderful and unforgettable experience...”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 6, 2014

I am writing this review a year after taking a month long course at the Institut...the reason? Because I had actually enrolled to undertake another course this April 2014 but my first grandchild's birth coincided with the commencement of the programme. Some of the friends I made there last year, however, have returned and I have spoken with one of them about our shared time last year and her observations about the school this year...and I am alreadying planning my next trip!
We discussed a few of the negative comments we had read about the Institut and I would like, wiith the benefit of hindsight, to mention aspects of my own month. I did not have experience of an apartment organised for me, as I had chosen to rent privately. From day one at the school, I felt at home, despite initial shyness and misgivings about my rudimentary knowledge of the language.
The teachers were, without exception, absolutely charming and at all times encouraging, particularly when mistakes were made. The comraderie between the students, at all levels, during common time was palpable...and would not have been possible without the encouragement and humour of the teachers and staff. I enjoyed the timetabling of the day, broken as it was into specific segments. While I agree that the language lab is not state of the art, it served its purpose; I would like to have the opportunity for more lab time, but understand the organisational constraints.
As regards the food, I thought it was fabulous. And I even tried to replicate some of Nathalie's recipes when I returned home! The lunchtime break, speaking French,with a teacher at each table, was initially for me quite terrifying...but it soon became a highlight of the day and an opportunity to meet students from other classes. The prospect of speaking only French throughout the day became an adventure.
Unfortunately I was one of the students who succumbed to a very nasty case of the 'flu during my course and I lost one week's tuition...my teacher was at all time considerate and my friends, when possible, provided me with notes and briefings about the class activities so I could keep up. It would never have occurred to me to ask for a "credit for a future course" as suggested by one commenter.
I will be returning for another course in April 2015...and am still deciding if I will go back in September this year so I can catch up to the standard of my friends who are enjoying their time at this remarkable school at the moment.

Visited May 2013
Was this review helpful? Yes 8
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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