What better place to learn French than in Paris? One of my goals when moving to France for the summer was to learn French, and I was able to do that with French classes at the Accord French Language School in Paris!
Choosing French Classes in Paris
Paris contains many formal language schools which teach people of all ages and experience levels French classes. The typical school offers a morning session of French classes of about 20 hours with add-on afternoon workshops on specific topics on pronunciation or history. Some schools, including Accord Paris, offer a service to place you with a host family or hotel should you need a place to stay in the city.
When searching for French classes in Paris, I compared many different schools looking for ones located close to my apartment with good class times, and decently priced. Betting that the instruction quality is similar across all the schools, I chose the Accord French Language School since it offered the best price per hour of class time.
Disclaimer: Accord French Language School gave me a discount on my classes, but the classes were still the best priced when I did my comparison of French classes in Paris. All opinions in this article are my own.
Located in the bustling 9th arrondissement of Paris, the Accord School was easy to get to. I enjoyed going to class in the gorgeous old building with gold brushed mirrors and detailed ironwork that housed the school.
How the Accord Classes Work
Based on my schedule for the summer and when the beginner classes started, I elected to sign up for 4 weeks of classes. You can sign up for as little or as many weeks as you want. When you arrive, you’ll take a placement test which will confirm which level of class you’re placed into. You switch teachers about every two weeks as you progress up the levels.
The classes are based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. CEFR is a quite ingenious distinction that defines six common reference levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2), using “can do” descriptors to define the learner/user’s proficiency at each level. I wish the USA consistently used this….
Having never taken French before in my life, I needed to start with the A11 class that teaches the basics such as the alphabet, numbers, introductions, etc. I was in the A1 classes for 3 weeks and then switched into a B1 class for my final week. It was definitely accelerated and I didn’t know some of the verb tenses, but because my knowledge of Spanish is solid (I’d place myself as a rusty B2) I enjoyed it much more because the students in the class were much more eloquent and proficient with their French. I never want to be the smarted person in the room — how are you to grow?
Who goes to the Accord School
I thought the most interesting aspect of attending class at the Accord in Paris was talking to each of my different classmates. As there was no minimum number of classes you could take, people came in and out throughout the weeks based on when they had signed up and what level they were placed into. The students were varied.
In my 4 weeks, I had class with with people from Equator, Argentina, Hungry, Venezuela, Turkey Switzerland, Germany, Russia, Japan, Thailand, Sweden, Canada, UK, Brazil, the Caribbean and many other countries in between that I’m forgetting.
The reasons to learn French and attend class at the Accord School were varied as well. I had class with a 14-year-old Mexican boy on holiday with his parents and a Seattle man in retirement who always wanted to learn French. One German student was living with his girlfriend for the summer and needed something to do when she went to her internship for six weeks (hehe same). A USA film maker signed up for 1 week of French to brush up on it while she was in the country working. An Equatorial woman had recently moved to Paris with her French husband. A Canadian student had just enrolled in university for the fall and was brushing up. And the list goes on… lots of reasons all good ones to learn French!
A Typical Day at the Accord School
My French classes at Accord began at 9am and concluded at 1pm, with a 20 minute break around 11am. The four hours of class would be a mix between listening, speaking, reading, writing, and grammar–all very important parts of learning a language. Classes had somewhere between 6 -15 people in them.
Accord French Class Methodology
Throughout the day, we’d be given photocopies of old Sometimes we’d have (somewhat optional) homework.
Even though I knew very little of the language when I started, I enjoyed the exercises when we would listen to music or watch movie clips and try to identify as many French words or phrases as possible. I speak Spanish pretty proficiently, and always find the listening comprehension to be the hardest skill to learn in a language.
We’d practice speaking by playing games, working in small groups, and writing mini-scripts and presenting to the group. As I progressed out of the intro classes, the reading exercises got more complex as well as we answered questions about newspaper articles, websites, and blog posts. Perhaps my most favorite week was when we learned legit relevant vocabulary about the career place and discussed our skills, past internships, and interview experience.
At the end of the week on Friday, we’d have a short quiz to test our understanding of the grammar lessons and vocabulary. The tests results don’t impact anything, but they’re a good pulse check to see if you’re grasping the content.
What I’d Change
One thing that I would change about my experience was that I wish I had taken the initiative and switched out of the intro classes and into something more intermediate sooner. People did this regularly and sometimes switched mid-week. The teachers (presumably) had a syllabus, but they didn’t share it with us at the beginning of the week, so it was hard to understand what we were going to learn that week and at what speed. If you enroll in the Accord School (or any French classes in Paris!), definitely feel empowered to take control of your learning and tailor lessons accordingly.
After French Class Exploring!
I intentionally chose the Accord French class times that ended at 1pm–even though there were many other workshops and afternoon sessions to choose from–so I could explore! Located in the 9th arrondissement, the Accord School is close to so many cool things in Paris. Some of the more unusual off-the-beaten-track places I enjoyed exploring was the Hoxton Hotel, Djawa Indonesian street food, the Jouffroy Passages (truly a unique Parisian gem!), and watching the show “How to Be a Parisian in 1 Hour.”