John: 2 weeks Mini Group Course
2 weeks in Paris (1)
Mini Group Course
I knew where I wanted to study French (Paris) and that I didn’t want to be with a lot of young people (it’s been years since I described myself as a student – and really couldn’t have faced studying with lots of bright young teenage things around me).
So when I spoke to CESA Languages I asked for a French language school that was adult friendly, where being in my late 30’s wouldn’t make me feel like a freak and for a study environment that did NOT treat me as if I was a 16 year old school boy again! They suggested their Paris College One school – because of the small language classes, and the high average age of the student body. I could only spare a fortnight – but I was assured that the small group French tuition and the personal attention of the native French teachers would ensure a lot of ground could be covered. I was delighted with my language course experience; all us newbies duly arrived at 8.30 am on the Monday as per our instructions for the first day of school. We sat a placement test (oral and written) which was a little intimidating, but the staff were kind and as the Briefing Pack stated I quickly realised that everyone was feeling nervous to some degree – so pulled myself together and got on with the task in hand.
After the test a complimentary breakfast (nice croissants by the way) was served in the cafeteria – where we had a chance to chat and get to know each other whilst waiting to be placed in our class groups, post the test. I got chatting to a Japanese lady (early 30’s), a Russian man (in his 40’s) and an Italian guy (late 30’s). There were a couple of girls in their 20’s as well (not sure of their nationalities though) – so we really were a mixed bunch.
I’d been told to advise the teachers of my personal language goals on the first morning and this ensured my views were taken into account in the group work. Lessons started at 10.00am on the Monday (but 9.00am every day there after). I was really impressed by the teaching – everyone at the French language school in Paris knew their stuff. We had two French teachers each week (so we were listening to different accents and were able to get two views on the French language – very helpful when I got confused on a grammar point, which happened quite often)!
I really needed to work on my spoken skills, primarily for telephone work for business – so my teachers firmly (but kindly) pushed me to talk a lot and used role plays as a useful exercise – incorporating a range of vocab in situations I knew I’d be facing when I got home. I was in a B1 French language group which meant we all knew a fair amount of the basics, but needed a lot of polishing up to take us to a higher level. I would have loved to have been out there for longer (another 2 weeks more and I reckon I could have made the B2 class) but real life dictated that I had to return to London to earn a crust.
Some of the students booked additional French private tuition – but I had decided against this, it was my first language course abroad so I didn’t want to tie myself into a programme that was too intensive for me. As it was my brain was aching from the group work by the end of each week. I didn’t register for any of the cultural activities – with Paris at my feet there was no problem finding things to do in my free time and there was always someone to visit a museum with or eat out with in the evening, when I wanted company.
I’d booked my own Hotel accommodation (didn’t feel like taking up the host family option – despite the encouragement from the CESA staff). Maybe I’ll try a host next time, other students certainly seemed happy with the arrangement.
Overall I was delighted – very positive experience. I had to work but honestly it felt more like a holiday and I certainly had a sense of personal achievement by the end of the course. I meet some nice people and felt very comfortable at the college (great teachers and general staff).
Thanks to Gemma at CESA for arranging the course for me and to everyone at the college for their encouargement – “Merci à tous”.