French Classes in Paris

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Whether you’re coming here to live, or even on vacation, there’s plenty of classes for everyone from débutants to those looking to master the elusive French verbs.

While I don’t personally make any recommendations, you can visit their sites to check for class times, size, and prices. Some schools do offer housing for longer programs and you can even get student visas if you sign up for longer sessions, helpful if you’d like to stay in Paris for a while.

Another plus about enrolling in a school is with your student ID, you can get discounts in museums and at the movies. Plus many gyms and sporting facilities give substantial student discounts and there’s student travel deals to be had as well.

A few tips:


  • Smaller classes may be better, but in some of the smaller schools when there’s not enough students, they tend to group people in a class with people at various levels if there’s not enough students enrolled. So you may be with people more or less advanced than you are.

  • Conversely, in some of the more well-known or larger schools, the classes are very large. Consider the attention and how much you’d learn in a room of 25 people versus 6.

  • If a school is too far away, you might not be so motivated to go to class if it takes 3 métros to get there.

  • Get yourself a good French dictionary and verb guide. Those French verbs are killers and you’ll need all the help you can to tackle them.

  • If you’re visiting Paris and just want to meet some people, consider doing a language swap. Try one of the inexpensive language exchanges at Let Them Talk, Konversando, and Paris Parler.

  • Consider a tutor. Although the interaction that happens in a classroom might be beneficial, if the class is too large, or has people of different levels (which is often the case) sometimes it’s good to get one-on-one attention.

    Some places to look for tutors are FUSAC, Craigslist, and Paris Pages.

  • Should you have an experience with any of the schools that you wish to share, you’re welcome to include them in the comments.

    Accord Ecole de Langues

    Academy of French Language & Culture

    Alliance Française

    Berlitz

    Ecole PERL

    Establissement Privé d’Enseignment Superieur

    France Langue

    Institute Catholique de Paris

    Institut de Langues et de Commerce International

    Institut Privé Campus Langues

    Institut Privé Francophone

    Konversando

    L’Atelier 9

    L’Atelier Privé des Langues

    Langue Onze

    L’Etoile

    Let Them Talk

    Lutece Langue

    OISE

    Paris Langues

    Promolangue

    Sorbonne French Language and Civilization Courses

    Verlaine Langue

    WICE

    More resources:

    French Language Courses

    Attica Librairie: Excellent bookstore featuring language-lesson workbooks and resources. Staff is very knowledgeable and helpful as well.

    FNAC: Large electronics and music store with big selection of language workbooks.

  • 31 comments

    • Alliance Francaise was terrible for me. (Very ‘Me Talk Pretty One Day’…) The teacher had absolutely no control over the pandemonium that was our enormous class. And on top of that, she would often bemoan the fact that security in the school had to be increased because of Americans, at which point she would look at me as if I were personally to blame. WTF!

    • The French people that I know highly recommend Sorbonne, Alliance Francaise and Institut Catholique.

      I was in Sorbonne last year- their classes pack many students but are very intensive plus there’s tests every week culminating in a big one at the end of term. In addition the curriculum includes phonetique classes which is very useful. It is not easy to get to from my place in the 8th, I had to change 3 metros. Also the phonetique labs are a 30-40 minutes walk away across the Jardin Luxembourg which adds to the stress. For debutantes I think it is the best in terms of rigour, content and price/quality ratio.

      This year I didn’t want to travel so far every day and hoped that Alliance Francaise would improve my lifestyle with its 3 mornings-a-week classes. It is, and one can join any time, enrolment is not too bad compared to Sorbonne. The numbers of students fluctuate every day, and my teacher does not believe in test. This means I have to be self-disciplined otherwise it ends up as time wasted.

      I believe language is a dynamic thing, one can attend endless classes without learning if there is no additional independent reading, talking and listening. I attend a semi-voluntary weekly conversation class which was great in unlocking the speech centre in the brain, for about 7 months before I was literally mute because the words just don’t come out. But the best thing to do was to join the local library- membership is free with the presentation of the residence card. I started with children books and relied a lot on an electronic Larrouse but it is now easier and I can read fiction, magazines and newspapers. I also listen to the radio often. For movies, I sometimes buy DVDs with subtitles for the deaf so I can read the dialogue.

    • There’s also French for Beginners at http://frenchecole.libsyn.com/

    • David, this is off the subject, but it does involve education. I am very excited to see that you will be in San Antonio for a French dessert class at Central Market in April. I am signing up today!

      Thank you, thank you!

    • Umami: Good tips! I don’t know if you this, but RFI Radio has French news online with French text, so you can read along as they speak. The site isn’t very intuitive (it takes a bit of searching to figure out how to do it-click on Lire le script, and download the podcast, I think).

    • i am taking classes with the Sorbonne (Cours de Civilisation et Langue) and i think its pretty great. the teacher really encourages everybody to participate even though there are about 20 total students. also, as mentioned before, the phonetics classes are helpful as are the “conferences” which are basically lectures in french on various topics. as a side note: after reading about tang freres on you blog for so long, i finally went today and was blown away! i’m going to have to go back during the week recipes in hand to make use of all the mysterious stuff inside.

    • I adore Paris. I think it’s amazing city (except WTF moments of course) but somehow I chose 3-week french course at Centre International D’Antibes in Provence a couple of years ago. Paris is great and offers a lot but I went for great weather and sea;-)I have some interesting comments about CIA and french courses in general so if anyone is interested in going there hop over to my blog and try to contact me:-)

    • It is my understanding that French classes are given also at l’Hôtel de Ville.

    • Alliance Francaise in Paris was a great experience for me. I’m from NYC. As in all schools, it depends on your instructor. Ours was able to explain things with clarity, was funny, engaging and sensitive to the different cultural backgrounds of various students. She made sure everyone participated. She spoke all in French together with gestures and her body language to help us catch on. Intimidating at first but this method works.

      Their library was an amazing resource with workbooks, literature, a media area with instructional videos, and wifi. One down side, We studied one verb tense for the month passe compose – past tense (this was an intensive class, mind you). I felt by the second week we’d grasped it and wished we could have moved on to another verb tense – but yes, by the end we knew it like the back of our hand. There are 28 verb tenses in French which in my mind I wondered how many classes that added up to. Would probably mean lots of money to shell out. Still is one of the better language schools in Paris.

      I only knew of a few on the list and Hotel de Ville. Thanks David for the info! This list will be helpful for the day I do go back – *sigh* wish it were now.

    • I did seven weeks at Alliance Francaise last summer, 20h a week. I have to say that the classes were (too) large considering the price, at times we were 25 people, and this was at a level where you’re supposed to get over that block of not being able to speak unless asked specific questions, so that sucked a bit. On the other hand, the teacher gave us lots of homework – up to two hours a day – and also corrected much of it personally, so there was a big learning effect from that alone. Unfortunately, I had expected more: my last month, we had a different teacher, and while she was more pleasant, she also didn’t push us as hard as the first one so I ended up slacking off a lot, which of course is the student’s problem, but really shouldn’t be made *easier* by the teacher, I think.

      In all, I can recommend them for their very large breadth of classes, generally good facilities, and nice learning atmosphere. If you don’t like the teacher or the room, one shouldn’t hesitate to change classes, which is possible with a little hassle, as well. My only problem with AF was that it’s pretty much on the insanely expensive side.

    • Don’t be too impressed by the reputation of some of the big schools in Paris. At the end of the day what really counts is the teacher you have. I went to the Alliance Francaise and had a terrible experience with a dreadful teacher (I sat in the class for 3 hours a day and might have said 2 sentences each time the rest of the time we did painfully boring grammar exerecises from a book that I could have just as well have done at home). What a waste of money!

      On the other hand I took a course in a small (and much cheaper) school in my neighbourhood and the teacher was great.

    • I found Berlitz awesome, but I paid dearly for one on one lessons. However, they did get me up and talking. I also took a summer course at American University in Paris that was horrible. The teachers were good, but I didn’t realize the class would be filled with high school seniors coming over for the summer. Not really my cup of tea.

    • I took a month of classes at the Alliance Française in Paris. The classes were huge (21 and 25 students), but the teacher was top notch and I never felt starved for attention. I thought the technology (coming from the US) was a bit primitive (they didn’t have a printer, used cassettes instead of CDs) and it was expensive, but overall I was satisfied. I might try for another place with smaller classes next time. The plus side of huge classes was I made more friends.

    • Bob and Ibis: I couldn’t find any info about French classes at the Hôtel de Ville, but that sounds like a great place to learn!

    • I know that this article is specifically about learning French in Paris,
      but I would just like to add that, in my opinion, the best system for
      learning French is M. Pierre Capretz’ French in Action series from
      American Public Television. The series was produced in the 80s, so here
      and there it’s a little dated (you no longer address a waiter as garçon);
      however, it’s still an excellent program. When I’m doing some repetitive task
      like wrapping caramels, I pop in a tape and listen to an episode – it helps me
      to exercise the French part of my brain…

      Obviously, it’s best to sit down and really focus on each episode. Get the
      textbooks associated with the class and do the exercises. It’s an amusing story told in 51 easily digestible episodes. Currently, you can
      even watch the them for FREE over at learner.org →

      French in Action – Video on Demand

      Check out your local community college; yours, like mine, may offer classes based on FIA.

    • My flatmate takes classes with the hotel de ville. They are run in every arrondissement and the idea is that you go two evenings a week. I think you can sign up twice a year – September and January. Apparently, they’re a bit old-fashioned as regards teaching style but they’re cheap and I’ve really seen the difference in his French. If only I had the time to attend them too!

    • Natasha is correct. Only thing to add is that they fill up VERY quickly.

    • There are links for a few more resources at Learn French with the Bible

    • Off topic, but John, your chocolates look FABULOUS!
      WOW
      On learning Fr., I like the Fr2 news online site. You can at least read the intro text on the right hand side at
      http://jt.france2.fr/

    • Aloha, David!

      I wrote to you a few months ago for a recommendation on a language school in Paris, and you were kind enough to respond with your thoughts.

      I did a lot of research, and have selected Atelier 9, which has great ratings, is not expensive, and is about a half hour’s walk (four metro stops) from the apartment I’ll be staying at. I’ll provide a review after I’ve spent some time there.

      My research suggests a few criteria to consider along with class size. Some courses are designed for short term — a week or two or three, as opposed to months. Some are intensive for visitors, others a few hours a week for long-term students. Some accept new students only at the beginning of the month, others any old time. Some emphasize written work as well as conversation. Some appear to be somewhat academic with substantive classes on history, for example, and even exams. Prices vary widely — from about 15 euro an hour to (believe it or not)75!

      It is difficult to find ratings online, but there are a few, and that’s a big part of my decision. I wanted someplace casual and relaxed, rather than formal and academic. The school you had mentioned was my runner-up, but required four metro changes — even though I think that is supposed to be technically impossible!

      As preparation, I am going through a bunch of free French lessons on itunes. Several have pdf guides for sale to go along with the lessons, but it is quite helpful to just hear an hour or so of French every day; Learn French by Podcast is my favorite so far.

      Mahalo nui loa — thanks very much — for your help, and thanks for this posting. I’ll let you know how my Paris adventure turns out. I’m arriving for three weeks March 29, and if you’re in town, perhaps I can thank you in person!

    • I would like to share my experience of Paris and my tips with you.
      I am taking French courses at the Institut privé Campus Langues (www.campuslangues.com) I must say: I am really impressed by their value. I carried out so much research on the web to find a quality school that did not break the bank! I did not want to pay a fortune for my education. They have different programs and specific classes like phonetics and conversation classes. Our teacher is able to explain things with clarity, he is really funny and sensitive to the different backgrounds of students. She makes sure everybody participates.

      In all, I can recommend this school for their good facilities, a nice learning atmosphere and their excellent prices!

      Another good tip : have a look at RFI radio. I listen to it everyday. I have really improved my French thanks to the school and this radio station.

    • Hi guys,

      A bit of a shameless plug but I’ve just set up my own website as a freelance French teacher so if anyone’s interested in some flexible and customised French lessons with a fully-qualified native French teacher then please check it out at the URL below.

      http://www.parisfrenchclass.com

      Thanks!
      Blanche

    • I will be in Paris on business for 1 – 2 months next spring. I would like to bring my 11 year old granddaughter along. She has been studying French for several years and would like to maximize this opportunity. I have contacted Alliance Francaise and Accord about language classes, but their programs do not fit our needs. Do you have any suggestions – do you have classes for the children? I would like her to meet some other children and be able to practice her French. If you have any thoughts I would appreciate your ideas. Thank you very much for any help you could offer.

    • I don’t know of any classes particularly for younger people, but you might find some other suggestions for things to do at our post: Ten Great Things to Do With Kids in Paris.

    • I highly recommend Langue Onze in the 11eme — I was a “refugee” from Alliance Francise – if you are looking for a small class (max = 9, often less) with emphasis on aural French, I recommend Langue Onze. I made more progress there in 4 weeks than in 3 months with Alliance Francais. They use lots of different teaching tools, and very much tailor the classes to fit the level of the students..

    • I have been looking for somewhere to learn the French language. Thanks.

    • I am looking for a place to take a week or so of private speaking lessons during a trip to Paris in August.- it has been many years since I learned french and have forgotten lots. Any suggestions welcome.

    • Thanks for the info Dave.

    • I’ve had a very good experience at Paris Langues next (or in?) to 14th in Paris. I was looking for a course over several months that wouldn’t be costing thousands of euros. In fact Paris Langues was only 20 min walk away from where I live. The upside of the class I’ve taken (au-pair class, although I am not one) was the fact that the teacher was very good, friendly, but thorough with grammar. For the reference her name is Nadia. We had 10 people maximum and lots of interactions chances during the class + grammar practice. I’ve learned a lot plus it was a social interaction chance for me, as many of the students stayed after the classes to chat at the cafeteria above (in the same building).
      I’ve progressed from almost not being able to speak to being able to explain myself in broken french in every-day situations. As a reference I’ve passed TEF with B2 in the end of class (after about 6 months of french). My passive french is much better than active speaking and that’s maybe because I’ve taken less intensive class. I guess now I really need to get some conversational lessons to get speaking fluently. Plus one needs to forget about speaking perfectly (my obsession) and just to get talking.

      Hope this review helps.
      N.

    • I’m interested in studying French in Paris and your comments (along with the article) help informed me a lot. So, thank you. But my problem is related to accommodation. It’s pretty expensive to rent a room in an apartment, and the cheap hostels have got pretty bad ratings. Does anyone know of a decent rental or something that’s around 500 dollars a month?

    • Noona: Check out my post: Renting an Apartment in Paris for tips.