It’s summer and, coming back from or going to a lovely holiday in France, many people in the UK are toying with the idea of learning French. But where do you start? What do you need to look for and to watch out for? Which French class can you choose?
Well, let’s start with the provider:
1. The organisation
Several years ago, deciding to join a French class was easy: you could just contact your local Adult Education College and find a variety of courses on offer. Due to lack of government funding, this is no longer the case.
If you are over 60, you can probably still find a U3A offering French classes in your area; though be aware that those are run by volunteers who often are not qualified teachers. So the quality of what you will spend your time and energy on depends completely on the knowledge, dedication and skills of the person teaching. That being said, I know of some amazing U3A teachers, but I fear they might be few and far between.
There may be some independent, self-employed tutors in your area. Once again, check their qualifications and track records. Several testimonials and a solid teaching record should help you to check this. Too often, self-employed tutors will only offer private tuition, which is much more expensive and not half as enjoyable, or have a small group of “advanced” students they have kept over the years who are more a club than a learning group, feeding off one another’s mistakes.
The best, if you can find it, is a private establishment, dedicated to adult language learning. These offer qualified teachers, professional equipment and suitable premises. Be careful, with these, not to pay over the odds for your classes. You should not be charged more than around £20 for a 2 hour class, maybe £25 for high luxury accommodation.
A private school will offer you comfortable and dependable learning, but also insured premises, designed for purpose.