Archive for French Stuff

The NaperFrench Experience: The benefits of learning French through French Classes and French Tutoring

One student taking French classes in Naperville makes the most of learning a foreign language by studying in Paris.

 

NaperFrench Student attending French university in Paris

A Naperville French student enjoying a night out while studying in Paris

As a French teacher in Naperville IL, I am fully aware of the emphasis placed on students nowadays to learn and foreign language and see how useful learning French is in today’s globalized and mobilized society. However, not everyone realizes just how much borders have opened up to the extent that there now exist vast possibilities for Americans not only to travel, but to study, work, and live in a foreign country as well.

One of my high school students taking French classes at NaperFrench expressed a desire to go beyond mere French lessons in Naperville and actually immerse herself in the French experience with French language, culture, and lifestyle by studying in France. Several students receiving French tutoring from me in the past have had the opportunity to later use the French they acquired to go study abroad with a program through their American universities for a six of twelve month period. Studying abroad in this sense allows for students to experience a completely different culture and thus strengthen their understanding of the world around them- an important quality which translates not only on a social level but also on an academic and professional level to enhance the individual’s character.

This year, an ambitious student took the idea of studying abroad to the next level by applying for schools in France, meaning that the entire bachelor’s degree would be completed in Paris at a French School. This student started out taking French classes in Naperville with my private one on one tutoring system and has now successfully completed her first year of college at a French university. She couldn’t be happier, as she has not only been attending one of the top universities in France, but she has also had the chance to indulge in savory French food, learn about European history, experience Parisian culture, make foreign friends, and of course improve her foreign language skills. As an added bonus, she was able to travel all around Europe for a fully immersive experience.

While the idea of attending college in France may seem astounding or even nearly impossible to many, Americans can easily study abroad. Our modern society is so interconnected that it is easier than ever to study or live in another country. French schools and businesses are eager to have foreign individuals as part of their institutions, especially from the United States. There are several college programs, for example the euro-American studies program, and dual bachelor degrees with prestigious American universities like Columbia, Princeton, and Georgetown, that encourage Americans to study in France. You don’t even have to be fluent in French to study in France! Generous dual degrees allow for American students, even some who cannot even speak a word of French, to live in France while studying on an English track in all English courses, adding in French classes and immersion programs for them to learn the language during their stay. Other programs provide classes in a mix of French and English; Other American students who have taken French classes in the past and have extensive knowledge and experience in the French language may choose to challenge themselves by attending schools offering courses exclusively in French.

Although it is proven that private French lessons, French classes, and French tutoring alongside school-taught second language classes like those provided by NaperFrench are the best way for children, teens, and adults alike to learn a new language and bring students to a level of the language that is beyond what if provided in schools or at-home media lessons, I always advocate for my students to get real experience with the French language in a city like Paris. And, as amazing of an experience as a European vacation provides for someone looking to practice and improve their foreign language skills, being able to spend time in France for an extended period of time is veritably an experience like no other.

Studying abroad, whether in France of elsewhere, and whether for 3 months on exchange of 4 years while completing an entire degree, is truly the experience of a lifetime; I hope to foster more of such ambition for such an experience for more of my students and continue to prepare them for such adventures.

France Ushers in Spring with Muguet Des Bois.

May Day is a big deal in France. A national holiday– called the workers’ holiday–to be exact. In fact, celebrating the cause of workers (what we now celebrate as Labor Day) on May first is a custom that originated in the United States in the 1800’s when the labor unions were at the peak of the fervor and righteous battles against abusive labor conditions. The celebration had a distinctly left-wing–even communist–flavor, and perhaps that’s why in the US the date was quietly moved to early September and the name of the holiday changed to Labor Day.

But in a country like France where going on strikes is a national pastime and the left–if delusional–remains somewhat a force to be reckoned with, the Fête du Travail is sacrosanct. Besides, it kicks off the merry month of May, which in France is all the merrier for having more official holidays (thus, time off work) than any other month. With the Fête du Travail, and the Catholic holidays of Ascension and Pentecôte all being official national holidays and thus mandatory days off, the national preoccupation becomes “making the bridge” between the official day off and the nearest weekend. Making the bridge (faire le pont) means scheming to take yet another day or two off to connect the official holiday with the weekend and thus being able to leave town for a real mini-vacation.

Need I mention that nothing much of importance gets done here during the month of May. However, the French do have a most charming custom to usher in this month of merriment: the buying for oneself or one’s loved ones or friends a pot or bouquet of lily of the valley (muguet de bois). Lily of the valley is referred to as a “porte-bonheur”–literally, “bringer of happiness” or perhaps what we would call a good luck charm.

A few days before May Day, you begin to see vendors popping up on every corner selling lily of the valley. Although at all other times of the year, selling any kind of flowers or anything else on the street requires paying for a permit, merry May Day is exempted from this evil tax, and anyone can sell the blossoms anywhere without being tithed by the city. And of course, every florist has pots and bouquets of lily of the valley dominating their outdoor displays. The pots for lily of the valley are always deep and vase-shaped, another tradition. Commuters are everywhere clutching their lily of the valley, to be offered to girl- or boyfriend, husband or wife, dinner host, boss, you name it. Even the Metro is perfumed.

I unabashedly love this custom. I can’t think of a more à propos way to usher in this most perfect of months, when all is bursting into blossom, trees are spangled with perfect new leaves, and every gardener’s heart is full of the promise of this season’s plantings. It’s hardly any wonder that May Day was originally a joyous pagan holiday celebrating the promise of the spring’s planting. I’m happy that here in Paris, even though May Day has officially fallen into the clutches of cranky labor unions, it’s arrival is rung in with the perfume and innocent white bells of lily of the valley.

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