Going abroad. Explore the world. That’s all.
This is often the first intention expressed by a young or a student, in search of new adventures and discoveries. Taking a language study trip is a complete response to this need, this desire to meet the world and discover a culture from within. Let us look in detail and in testimonies, what are the benefits of a language immersion experience in France with VAL.
The educational benefits of FLL immersion
What is French as a Foreign Language?
French as a Foreign Language or FLL, is the French language that we teach to foreigners, or non-native speakers. The goal could be to learn French for school, university, work, or personal reasons like travel. The teaching and testing level of French is done according to the CEFRL, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.
Whether you are a young learner, a high school student, an undergrad or an adult, French as a foreign language is open to all ages and abilities!
Progress rapidly in French
For a student or an adult learning FLL (French as a Foreign Language), the immersion experience is a great way to improve language abilities.
- In class, you learn the theory of the language: grammar, syntax, vocabulary, conjugation, etc. You apply your knowledge through practice exercises and role plays, a very rigid method that may not be liked by a lot of students.
- When you study abroad, practicing the language takes place in a real-world setting. It is time to gather all that you have learned and use the French language spontaneously, in all situations and without your Post-it notes. Far away from your books and vocabulary lists, you are expected to communicate and listen to the language in a live setting with a host family, at the market, while visiting a museum, at the restaurant.
You will soon notice rapid progress in listening comprehension, one of the key steps in foreign language acquisition. You will feel more at ease with your speaking skills, more fluent and spontaneous in just a few days!
Anna, a high school student from Spain, 16 years old.
“I only studied French for a year. After one week of studying abroad, I noticed that my words were coming to me more easily and that I was self-correcting my mistakes. In the morning, after I was fully awake, I was speaking to my host family stress-free. And I did not find it hard to ask questions and understand the guide’s explanations during our Louvre guided visit for example. I felt comfortable.”
Perfect your French before an exam
Not only will you progress quickly in French, but the progress will be lasting as well. Undeniably, the benefits of an immersion experience can be felt long-term. While traveling, with your host family, and with your group, you will develop language habits and create memorable experiences.
This “live” practice of the French language shapes what you are learning, improves your oral expression, and your memory. No learning by heart, or frantic studying before an exam, but a concrete way to experience language in a fun environment. It allows you to practice talking to people and understand the mechanism of the language. An ideal solution to prepare for an exam or a language certificate.
Vincenzo, a high school student from Italy, 17 years old.
“When I came back to my high school, everything was clearer in my mind. Sentences, language structures. I wanted to keep speaking French because everything seemed so much easier. I strengthened my knowledge and especially gained self-confidence and I feel more comfortable speaking now. I also took exams with more ease.
The human benefit to an immersion experience
One benefit of an immersion experience is living like a French person.
Is your imagination full of cliches and Instagram-style photos of French life? It is time you experience the daily life of a French student! Thanks to your immersion experience, you will be able to live the culture and discover the traditions of French life, while living like a local.
Staying with a host family is the best way to learn French as Foreign Language, to benefit 100% from the experience and observe the customs of French people.
Imagine: eating a French breakfast, fitting in to their meal schedule, understanding common customs, common etiquette, daily routines, conversation at the dinner table, playing games, sharing life stories, taking public transportation, ordering meals at the restaurant, etc.
An immersion experience is the perfect opportunity for a world traveler to grasp the differences with their home country, to learn and to understand another way of life. You realize then, to navigate and discover the world, knowing a foreign language is mandatory!
Nicolas, French as a Foreign Language teacher in England
“It’s truly pleasant to notice progress and changes in my students after a study abroad experience. We feel like the group is energized and really satisfied. To be able to understand and live with a host family as well as travelling with another student group is really gratifying. It breaks down all barriers of communication, students overcome their fears or the feeling of being embarrassed to speak with a bad accent, etc. And they were able to notice that people welcomed their efforts with a smile for speaking in the target language. It did not matter if they made mistakes or if the pronunciation was imperfect (what bother teachers in class so much): there they were happy to talk freely. Now it’s my job to work with them on their written skills!”
Develop a unique social and international network
Studying abroad allows you to meet new people and connect with locals and international students. It is an excellent way for you to socialize and develop ways to interact in public and in environments outside your comfort zone.
Interact with students taking your same classes, participate in activities together, keep in touch with members of your host family. All of them can help shape your future. Who knows, maybe you will want to come back to live in France?
Jan, self-employed, Scotland, 36 years old.
“I never tried really hard in French class when I was in high school. I did not like it and I did not see the point. For professional reasons, I had to learn French again and study in a language school in Bordeaux for 3 weeks. I loved the city and daytrips in the region. I made real progress and kept in touch with my teachers and all the network connections I developed with my fellow travelers. It was a very good human and cultural experience!”
Assert yourself, gain self-confidence and develop autonomy
Studying abroad boosts your autonomy and self-confidence. You will come back more mature, confident, and satisfied with your experience and progress.
Learning a foreign language in an immersion setting gives you an opportunity to gain maturity. It has been proven that a language and cultural immersion experience develops cognitive flexibility and an acuity to foreign languages. You then acquire a desire to study other languages, to have an open mind, and the capability to adapt, which is highly valued by universities and employers.
Amanda, mother, USA
“My daughter and myself were really anxious about her departure to France because she is really shy and reserved. I found her glowing when she came back from Provence, she loved that region and I bet that she appreciated the French touch! She speaks to us in French every day at home and we can feel that she misses France! I find her a lot more dynamic and ambitious. She’s got only one thing in her mind: travel again to Europe.”
Our advice to optimize your language immersion in France
- Choose your French classes well
Every student must take a placement test, so the French classes are tailored to your needs and goals. Our French as a Foreign Language teachers are attentive to your needs and are here to suggest the perfect program for you. French as a Foreign Language classes are not mandatory when studying abroad, but they are recommended to speed the learning of the language.
- Choose language immersion in a French host family
When studying abroad, you can choose between staying in a dorm, at a hotel, or with a host family. This last option is best, to create a total cultural immersion and enjoy a 100% francophone environment. To learn more, read our article about the concept of language immersion.
The language study trip is a key asset, a real boost of energy and motivation to learn a language in a fun and international context ! It makes sense!
Beyond the educational and social benefits, we will see in a further article the benefits of cultural immersion from a professional point of view: a real boost for the curriculum vitae and to seduce recruiters all around the world!