Want to improve your French while in Grenoble but don’t know where to go? Grenoble Life’s Camille Bromley has done the research so that you don’t have to.
Need to work on your French? A look at French classes in Grenoble
by Camille Bromley
For those in Grenoble who need a little push – or a big kick – to get their French up to par: let’s get to it! After arriving in France to live last summer, I discovered that my confidence in my US-learned French was largely unfounded. Pressing ahead with self-motivation and grammar books, I found myself in foreign language quicksand – the more French I gained control of, the more I realized how far I had to go. I promptly researched language schools in Grenoble, settling on a CUEF (Centre Universitaire d’Études Françaises) course at the Université Stendhal, and received the kick start that I needed.
Although your French level will undoubtedly progress in the course of daily life, a language class will accelerate the process and draw your attention to vocabulary or grammar you may be still missing. A language class also introduces you to other foreigners in the community, many non-English speaking, many new to the area, with a similar level of communication to yours, a valuable resource to make friends and practice your French outside of class. Class teachers provide insights into French culture and local goings-on, and many courses organize activities outside of class.
Grenoble offers quite a few community French language classes and several official schools.
The language schools are run professionally and so offer a rigorous schedule, a higher quality of instruction, and more sophisticated materials. The downside is that tuition fees swallow a significant chunk of the wallet.
I took CUEF’s intensive French language course this summer. It was 20 hours per week, duration four weeks. It cost 640 euros, which works out to eight euros per hour. A variety of courses are offered, general French language courses as well as courses targeted towards specific needs. For those of us with a day job, there is an evening course, eight hours per week.
The teaching materials used in my course were excellent. Audio equipment was available for intensive listening comprehension exercises, and visual materials such as video clips were used regularly. CUEF does not follow a textbook; the class curriculum is created according to teacher preference. Because CUEF is affiliated with University Stendhal, students of CUEF are eligible to perks such as free use of the language laboratory equipment and participation in weekend excursions.
I was satisfied with the course and I definitely saw improvement by the end. For more information see the website.
The Alliance Française, conveniently located in the center of town, offers intensive, semi-intensive, and specific-needs French courses. The fees work out to nine euros per hour. The organization of classes is similar to CUEF, but the facilities lack a language laboratory with audio equipment.
For more information see the website.
3. Association Babel
Babel, a language association and home to an English library, offers courses in several languages. The class size is smaller and the ambiance more intimate. There is a French language course as well as a French/English conversation exchange group. At the moment, the course is not available but may resume in January 2010, upon request. The fee for the course is 265 euros per year. The fee for the exchange group is 50 euros per year.
2 rue Sainte Ursule, 38000 Grenoble
04 76 42 43 91
association.babel (at) laposte.net
Community classes are taught by French volunteers, at very low cost. They are more flexible and less demanding than the language schools, and may offer more opportunity for conversation practice and personal interaction. However, almost all the community classes are targeted for beginner to lower-intermediate level learners.
Held Mon, Tues, Thurs 2:00-4:00, Fri 9:00-11:00, 2:00-4:00
Fee: 25 euros/year
Level: beginner to low intermediate
Held Mon and Tues 9:00-11:00
Fee: eight euros/year
Level: beginner to intermediate
Focus: vocabulary, cultural knowledge of France and Grenoble, grammar
3. Association AMAL
Held Tues, Fri 2:00-4:00
Fee: 10 euros/year
Focus: grammar, reading, listening
57 Avenue du Maréchal Randon, 38000 Grenoble
04 76 44 71 14
4. Association LEFOP
Fee: two euros/year
06 81 38 97 92
5. Association Préludes
Thurs, Fri 9:00-11:00
04 76 54 33 14
associationpreludes (at) hotmail.fr
6. MJC Villeneuve
Fee: five euros/year
04 76 09 18 29
7. Centre Social Teisseire, Association FACILE
Tues, Fri 9:00-11:00
Fee: three euros/trimester
04 76 25 49 63
8. Centre Social Vieux Temple
Tues, Thurs 8:45-11:45
Fee: three euros/year
04 76 54 67 53
9. Centre Social Vieux Temple, Communic’Action
Fee: three euros/year
04 76 54 67 53
10. Centre Social Prémol, Atelier Communication
Tues 2:00-4:00, 6:00-8:00; Thurs 9:00-11:00, 6:00-8:00
04 76 09 00 28
11. Centre Social Arlequin, Atelier de français
Tues, Wed, Thurs, Fri 9:00-11:00, Tues 2:00-4:00
04 76 22 42 20
Language Partner (Tandem)
If conversational or oral expression is what you need work on, it may be more useful to find a language partner. The idea is that two people meet regularly to practice each other’s native tongues, dividing time equally between the two languages. No fee is involved. This is a great way to make a new friend and learn about French culture and local events.
You can find demands for a language exchange on announcement boards in buildings at the Université Stendhal campus, especially at CUEF and the Maison de Langues. You can also post an announcement yourself.
Alternately, the student organization Integre Grenoble posts demands for Tandem on its website.
Café linguistiques are open to foreigners looking to practice French and French people looking to practice a foreign language. They are typically held in the evenings in various pubs around the city. The location and date change each time, so you will have to follow the postings. Check Intregre, an organization for international students in Grenoble, and Happy People, an organization for introducing foreigners to locals and arranging language exchanges. Intregre is almost exclusively a young student crowd, while Happy People includes members of more diverse backgrounds.