There are many advantages of learning French in France, although the most valuable is that you will learn French with a genuine French accent and with all the French colloquialisms that confuse so many people.
In order to speak French like the French do, it makes sense to learn in France, and while there are many excellent French language courses in the USA, Canada the UK and elsewhere, it is essential that if you want to speak the language as it is spoken in France, then you will have a definite advantage if you go to France to learn it.
There are several French language courses that enable you to learn in the country where the language started and also to steep yourself in the culture of that country. What better way to learn any language than for a group of like-minded people to get together and not only attend classes together, but learn about the geography, the history and the culture of that country together? Learn France’s position in the European Community, and how the citizens of the country feel about the Euro in comparison to the Franc.
Listen to the music that they listen to and watch their TV. Eat their food, and learn the real terms that French men and women use when ordering a meal in a restaurant – not just the grammatically correct version of the language taught in schools and most other French courses in your own country.
In fact, if you could be French for a few weeks, or even a year – the choice is yours – don’t you believe that at the end of your course you will have a much better understanding of the language and the people that speak it naturally? It is surely better for you to learn how to speak French as the French speak it? However, that raises one problem associated with learning any language.
The France of today is not that much different to the country of yesteryear in that, not only does it have many dialects as your own country likely has, but these different dialects also have their own vocabulary. We are not discussing accents here, such as the difference between those in Alabama, Boston and the Bronx. In France they are virtually different languages. In the UK the nearest would be the true Yorkshire and Cornish dialects that are as different from each other and from normally accepted English in their accent and vocabulary as chalk and cheese.
With French, we are not just discussing the massive differences between the language as spoken in Canada, the Caribbean, Africa and France, but also within France there are many different languages spoken such as Languedocien, Provençal, Limousin, Gascon, Lorrain, and, of course, accepted ‘classical’ French. When living in France to learn the language, you must:
a) Be careful that you are learning ‘true’ French, whatever that may be, and
b) Be grateful for the opportunity to learn French in its various dialects if you wish to do so.
Many might not be interested in learning the local patois, and in any case it is normally possible for you to choose to learn in any of a number of different regional centers. You can then focus on ‘classical’ French (such as the UK ‘acquired’ English of the BBC as it was once known) or any of a number of different local accents or dialects.
The problem with learning any language using classes in your home town these days is that you never know what version you are learning. To learn French, for example, you will normally sign up for a class with little previous knowledge of the language except, perhaps, what you have learned in school. Your accent will be hopeless and you would have difficulty making yourself understood in France using regular school French.
What that means in effect, is that when you have joined a French class and start learning then you really have no idea what accent or dialect you are learning in. You take what you get, only you don’t know what you are either taking or getting, so to speak, and could be learning an arcane dialect or a modern Parisian equivalent – as far as you are aware!
That points to a major benefit of learning French in France: you will be learning the dialect of French spoken both by your teachers and by the residents in the areas you are based. You can be sure that it is a working version of the language, and that doesn’t sound as silly as it might to you because many people learning in Los Angeles or Edinburgh find the French they have learned is only barely understood by real French people.
So, the advantages of learning French in France are numerous, although the most useful of them is that once you have finished your course people will understand what you are saying, and even more importantly, a difficulty that many find who have learned in school, you will understand when they speak to you in French. Listening is always harder than speaking, but not if you learn French in France.
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