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“The Institut is fabulous”

Institut de Francais
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Attraction details
Owner description: Language immersion courses for adults.
New York City, New York
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 5 helpful votes
“The Institut is fabulous”
Reviewed April 14, 2013

I was surprised to read the mixed review below given the fantastic experience I and so many other classmates at all language levels had at the Institute this April. First, the teaching is superb. Everyone in my class participated in the classroom experience, and we were incredibly well matched in language ability. It's easier to learn in a friendly atmosphere, and ours was punctuated by our teacher's wonderful humor. I could hear frequent bursts of laughter coming from the class next door as well. You do have to make a sustained effort, and there is some homework at night because this is a serious immersion program, but it's really gratifying to see your progress (and everyone else's.) I wish I could take the language lab home with me, where you have daily practice with your group, and then time on your own to ask questions and repeat any parts you want to. Although I never needed it, I also appreciated the director's telling us on the very first day to come to him if there were any problems, and not to keep it to ourselves until the end.

I came alone, like many students, and I especially enjoyed the communal breakfasts, as well as the group lunches, where there is a teacher at every table. There are organized movie nights, restaurant evenings, a wine and cheese lecture (with food) etc., so you have plenty of opportunities to socialize and speak French with the other students, who come from many different backgrounds.

Given the substantial progress you can make in French with creative, dedicated, and supportive teachers, all the while dining with a view of lemon trees and the Mediterranean, among people who become your friends, it's no wonder that so many people are return students. The Institut is magnifique!!

Visited April 2013
Helpful?
5 Thank Cyn654
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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126 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • German first
  • Italian first
  • Japanese first
  • Portuguese first
  • Any
English first
Portland, Oregon
Level 3 Contributor
21 reviews
7 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“Absolutely the best!”
Reviewed April 12, 2013

The Institut de Francais is the third immersion program I have attended, and by far the very best! I was there for the March 2013 session.
First, there is the program. This program has been fine-tuned over many years, and is extremely well suited to learning French. It is based on training the ear and the voice. The goal is to be able to speak the language with fluidity. It is very intensive, and can seem a bit daunting (learning a new language is NOT easy, no matter how good the program is!), but if you relax and go with it, you will be amazed at the progress you will make. Personally, my own abilities to speak and comprehend French were increased significantly, much more so than any other program I have used. (I've already pre-registered for a month next year.)
Second, there are the teachers. I have to say these are among the nicest group of people I've met in such a setting, and they are unrelentingly professional. They know their program works, and they insist on sticking with it. If you are the type who insists on doing it your way, you may find yourself butting heads with them. Just remember, their way has proven to be VERY successful. They are also masters at bringing each person into the discussion at hand, and at gently correcting a point of grammar or pronunciation. If your ego doesn't deal well with being corrected, you may have a problem. Just remember, you don't get better by having people tell you how good you are, and ignoring faults.
Third, there is the administration. The Institut is very good at taking care of its students! I had a dental problem while I was there, and they made a dental appointment for me, gave me precise directions, even made sure I would be able to pay by credit card! The apartment I had was awesome. And, unlike one of the other reviewers has suggested, if you have a problem with the apartment you are assigned, they will work with you to resolve this. I am personally aware of two people who had issues with location of their apartment, and were reassigned the first day of class. There is a doctor on call at all times. Several outings (optional) are arranged, including wine-tastings, dinners at local restaurants, an excursion to nearby quaint medieval villages, and museums, as well as a movie night every week.
Then, of course, there is the location. This is the Cote-d'Azur! The physical beauty of the place is amazing. The town is small enough to explore easily, but NIce is just a short bus ride away. By all means, plan to arrive a few days early to have some time to adjust, and to explore the area. Monaco is a short bus ride away, as are the villages of Eze, St. Paul-de-Vence, and Tourettes-sur-Loup. One word of caution: while Villefranche-sur-mer is beautiful, it is also vertical! If you have mobility issues, you may wish to reconsider. Unfortunately, France has not yet achieved parity for mobility-impaired people, and there are steep hills and stairs everywhere!
Finally, I want to comment on one of the other reviews. I was at the Institut at the same time as Serge, and I find his somewhat negative comments a bit dismaying. Though I was a level above him, we did have many classes together, and had quite a few conversations during breaks. I do not remember any comment from him at that time that was not positive. I'm at a loss to understand his "change of heart." Some of his comments are just inaccurate, and others are what I would consider extremely nitpicky. For example, there are actually six toilets, they are in the process of adding two more, and I never found the line to be burdensome. The labs are equipped with cassette recorders, but that is to allow the session to be recorded so the student can play back the instructor's phrases and their own responses. To replicate this with newer technology would be very expensive, and technologically challenging. Checking out of the apartment is a bit of a bother, but there will be a new student moving into the apartment on Sunday, and they need time to clean the apartment and deal with any issues. They made this pretty much painless by picking up my luggage and transporting it to my hotel directly. And, all this is explained thoroughly on their web site; it's not as if it was sprung on us at the last minute! All in all, with the mobility caveat, I would recommend this school without reservation. If I could, I'd give it ten stars!

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
13 Thank Gerald C
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Copenhagen, Denmark
2 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 11 helpful votes
“Not Perfect, but still a great school”
Reviewed April 12, 2013

My wife and I attended the March 2013 course at L'institut de Français. We were in the beginner
class no 1, mentioned by Sergey SK in his review of April 6.

It is correct that the level in the class was uneven. One was overqualified for beginners and moved to an intermediate group after 14 days. It was not a disadvantage to the class that she was better than the rest and we would have loved her to stay. My wife and I had never taken french lessons before, most of the others had taken attended courses or taken private lessons before, but we were all beginners.

It was clearly stated in all the information we received from the Institut before the course and
all other information available on the internet that there is only one language spoken in school
- FRENCH - so it should be obvious to all that if they do not understand one word of French
they will have a hard time at the Institut.

The first two weeks were absolute torture - Very tough and very tiring. We went to bed every evening before 10. My wife gave up because it was too difficult but she never blamed the Institut
or the teacher for it.

For the last 2 weeks we were 8 persons in the class. Our confidence grew and it is my impression that we were all happy with and proud of what we had achieved at the end of the Month.

I learned a lot about the french language during my month there. I am not comfortably conversational yet, but I understand a lot more when reading and listening to french, so I just
need to continue my efforts.

I am sure you can find schools with more fancy equipment and stylish restrooms etc, but I love
the placed, the views and the atmosphere at the Institut in Villefranche. The language laboratory worked fine for me but I am glad the lessons were not longer as I would not have been able to concentrate for longer.

It is my intention to keep practising and take some lessons over the next 6-7 months and then
return to L'Institut de Francais in Villefranche for another lesson in November.

I can highly recommend the course - also for beginners - However, If I had known then, what I
know now - then I would have prepared myself a bit, taken some lessons and tried to learn the
most important verbs before I got there.......

I like to thank the entire staff for their hard work, patience and good spirit.

Kjeld Petersen

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
10 Thank Kjeldpetersen K
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Vancouver, BC
Level 5 Contributor
48 reviews
3 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 37 helpful votes
“Want to speak French? This is the place to go!”
Reviewed April 7, 2013

I attended the Institut in March 2013. It was a tough but worthwhile experience. The Institut's website is underwhelming, but don't let it fool you, the organization is very well run and effective. The programme attracts a range of students both in terms of age and background. Apartments arranged through the institut vary quite widely, even within price categories - it seems to be sort of luck of the draw.

Visited March 2013
Helpful?
3 Thank tirnie
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, IL
Level 2 Contributor
3 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 10 helpful votes
“Fabulous experience”
Reviewed December 6, 2012

Mind you, I attended in 2000 and it was incredible. I stayed for two consecutive months. My french was minimal when I arrived--within a couple of weeks I was dreaming in French, which I thought was pretty cool. When I left I was very comfortably conversational. The teachers, the processes, the food, the outings, the location--all of it was excellent. I too thought it was an incredible bang for my buck at the time. My apartment was delightful. Fairly small but charming--I had a single. If you have the chance to do this, go-it's fabulous.

Visited January 2012
Helpful?
10 Thank dihett
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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