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“Good, but don't expect miracles”

Institut de Francais
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Owner description: Language immersion courses for adults.
Reviewed May 29, 2014

Did this in November-December 2013, for a full month. Don't expect anywhere near fluency if you're going in as just beginner or early intermediate, unless you're a language savant genius. I took it quite seriously, did all the homework on time, studied, paid attention in the classes, and still felt I had only progressed from Debutant 2 to Intermediate 1 ... which is OK I guess. But you really need to keep working on the language afterwards, so if you live somewhere where there aren't many opportunities to speak French... you won't progress. Would be better if there were a homestay option, so you could continue with French in a family setting in the evenings, but that is not offered.

The teachers were all nice and patient, no issues there. Some were slightly pretentious perhaps, but they're French what does one expect? :P

Location: not particularly convenient. School is perched atop a series of winding streets, high above the main town area. You have to walk far downhill to get near anything, like a supermarket. i was lucky enough to get an apartment very close to the school, 2 minute walk. Other people lived more downhill from the school, so I didn't envy them at all. Especially older people - I imagine they had a hard time with all the walking uphill-downhill required.

The tape recorder-based technology in the lab is very old and needs an update. It doesn't have to be changed entirely - the audio format is potentially effective - but at least get all the tape recorders working properly.

Also I thought playing Edith Piaf 'la vie en rose' at the closing graduation ceremony was a tad cheesy and overdone, but just my opinion. Bonne chance!

20  Thank nettap101
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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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 :)

14  Thank jane k
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

18  Thank BeMeHe
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed April 28, 2014

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.

36  Thank PanWorld
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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.

12  Thank planejanenz
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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