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How to select a language school in France

Are you a non-EU resident planning to go to France as a french language student? Here’s some tips to help you select a school.

Why is it important to think about which language school you need to choose? Other than the fact that it’s someone’s hard-earned money that you pay for the tuition (either your own or your parents’) it’s also taken into consideration when you apply for the visa so don’t just select the cheapest one that you see. It is true that some people use this as a way to enter France since it’s the easiest way to get a long-stay visa. So the French have since been trying to weed out the ones who use studying as a cover and then find a job as soon as they enter the french soil and not even attend the school because it’s so cheap that it wouldn’t even matter. If they see that it’s a legit language school you will get more chances of being granted a visa since they will know you are serious in studying french.

1. Decide which criteria are the most important for you

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-accreditation and quality seals of the school

-french teacher qualifications

-school size

-classroom equipment

-price (and what it includes, ie certificate, language exam, course materials)

-average number of students per class

-languages spoken by school staff

-assistance with visa

The list above is not exhaustive but it’s important to decide which of the above means to you more and in what order so it will be easier for you to do the comparison later on. Personally I looked at the following criteria (in order) when I selected my school:

a. Accreditation and quality seals of the school

The FLE accreditation

“The Qualité Français Langue Étrangère certification is the result of a quality approach initiated by the Ministry for National Education, Higher Education and Research, the Ministry for Culture and Communication and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and International Development, the certification aims to identify, recognise and promote French foreign language centres whose language teaching and services present assurances of quality.”

When you search for a school make sure that it is accredited with the qualité FLE. I wanted to learn French as fast and efficient as possible so quality is important. If the school has a website you should be able to find this information in their site. If not you can try and contact them and ask if they have the accreditation.

Although the easiest way would be to check out this list from the official website of Qualité FLE for all the accredited schools in France.

b. Price

Of course you would need to select the school based on your budget. It’s better to look at the price/hour instead of the total price. Like that you’re comparing apple to apple.

c. Average number of students per class

Too many students will mean not everyone might have a chance to speak (especially if you’re the shy type) and speaking and having the teacher evaluate you is important. Having less students might also mean that the teacher will be able to effectively assess each student. A human can only remember and assess so much in one class.

d. Assistance with visa

As someone coming from outside the EU you will need some documents (ie the pre-inscription letter) to get the visa and you need to get all the help you can in order to make your life easier. Some schools have a dedicated person to help you with these admin tasks.

2. Compare using LanguageCourse.net

Once you know the criteria you’re looking for, you can either visit the website of each school one by one or you can use this website which summarises most of the relevant information like:

-accreditations and quality seals

-details of french courses

-accommodation

-review and rating

-school size

-facilities of the school

-classroom equipment

-number of classrooms in the building

-number of public PC workstations

-what the tuition includes

-course material

-average number of students

-average age of students

-average number of levels

-minimum age of students

-french teacher qualifications

-languages spoken by school staff

-top student nationalities

-airport transfer

-school holidays

-leisure activities

-brochures

-photos and videos

This website will definitely help your decision process. It’s like Trip Advisor for language schools! You can also use this website for countries other than France.

That’s pretty much my thought process in selecting a school. Do you have other criteria which helped you select the school that you have now? Share in the comments below!

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