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Studying in France post-GCSE

Discussion in 'Modern foreign languages' started by Maus, Aug 28, 2011.

  1. I wonder if anyone can help me with this. My daughter is about to start Year 11 and currently determined to study French at A-level. As an MFL teacher myself, I'm delighted, but also a bit wary as she's likely to achieve around the A/B level (B is probably more likely) and I know just how hard a language A-level is, even for students with higher GCSE grades than that. To help her chances, I'd like to send her to France for part of the summer holidays next year, possibly with some opportunity for tuition. I'm a German specialist myself and don't have any personal contacts in France. Any ideas on how I could safely ship a 16 year-old girl off to improve her French? Is spending €1000 per week at a formal language school the only answer, and if so, which ones would be worth considering?
    All suggestions gratefully received ...
  2. castellano7

    castellano7 New commenter

    Hi Maus,

    I am a MFL PGCE student and I did something very similar to your daughter in 2001. I wanted to spend some time after my AS levels in France before applying to study languages at university, and I asked my French teacher. She suggested an exchange run through the local council (Durham) but they weren't running it that year, so she gave us the details of a private company who set up the exchange, I think my Mum paid about £200 to the company for the details of the other family, and we communicated with them beforehand and booked the flights ourselves. I seem to remember the company was called 'Dragon International' but having just looked at their website, it now seems they only organise exchanges for school groups. However, I did come across this company who may suit your needs perfectly:


    I went to stay with a lovely family in Marseilles, I guess it was a bit of a gamble as we didn't know them, but I had a great time and they took me on holiday to Corsica, and their daughter came to stay with us for two weeks straight afterwards. I kept in touch with them and I went back for two weeks the following summer before going to university, and I've been back twice since then!

    I think staying with a family is really the best option for your daughter to improve her spoken French (accent, pronunciation, use of idiomatic language and fluency). In my opinion language schools are over-priced and not that effective - I started Spanish from scratch at university and I spent two weeks at a language school in Spain which was good for grammar and cultural knowledge, but your daughter will be studying all that as part of her A-levels, and staying with a family will give her much more opportunity to practise speaking French. The other problem with language schools is that you are studying with other foreigners who very often want to speak English - when I was staying with the family in Marseilles, I spoke French all day every day.

    Do you have a French language assistant at your school? Perhaps you could ask him/her if they know anyone who has a daughter of a similar age who is looking to do an exchange? I still have quite a few contacts in France, so I could ask around if you'd like.

    I hope that helps!
  3. rosaespanola

    rosaespanola New commenter

    I'd second the comment about the issues with students spending most of their time with other English-speakers if they do a course at a language school - however some language schools arrange for students to stay with families so they get the best of both worlds, if your daughter does end up doing a language course then I'd look out for a school that can organise this.
    Try contacting the British Council for advice, as they have some programmes where A level students can spend some time in France. You can get some funding towards it as well, I think.

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