If you move to Paris you should learn French. In this guide we will demonstrate different ways of learning French in Paris, including language schools, French apps, language tandems and more.
Do I need to speak French in Paris?
No, however while it is possible to get by in Paris without speaking French, knowing the language can greatly enhance your experience. Many immigrants never learn French. However learning French can help you communicate with locals, navigate the city, and fully immerse yourself in the culture. Speaking French can also open up new opportunities for work, study, and socializing.
- You won’t always get help in English. Some employees can only speak French.
- You need French-speaking friends to ask questions, negotiate, solve problems, make phone calls and write emails for you.
- You need someone to translate important letters that you don’t understand, like tax or banking documents
- It’s harder to rent an apartment.
- It’s harder to get a job. Many jobs require both written and spoken French. There are fewer jobs in your language.
If you speak French, life can be easier:
- You can solve your own problems without friends to help make phone calls or send emails.
- You can participate more in your community and life. People are happier to talk to you. It’s easier to meet people and make friends, including your colleagues.
- You understand better what is happening in your environment. You can read signs, letters and the news.
To study in Paris
If you plan to study in Paris, it is important to have a good understanding of the French language. Some universities have programmes in English, however most are in French only.
Many universities and schools require a certain level of proficiency in French for admission. However schools offering MBAs will require no French and cater primarily to English speakers due to the international nature of MBAs.
For undergraduate students , being able to speak French will help you communicate with your classmates and professors, and make the most of your educational experience.
To get the French citizenship
The required level of proficiency is B1. If you are planning to apply for French citizenship, you will need to demonstrate proficiency in the French language. This is usually done by taking a language test or providing proof of education in French.
How long does it take to learn French?
The amount of time it takes to learn French varies depending on many factors, including your previous language learning experiences, the amount of time you dedicate to studying, and your motivation. According to the Foreign Service Institute (FSI), it takes an average of 575-600 hours of study for an English speaker to achieve fluency in French.
In practice, some people can learn intermediate spoken French in as little as 3 months when fully immersed. However it is highly dependent on how much time and focus is dedicated to learning the language.
Here are the 6 levels of French proficiency according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR):
- A1 (Beginner): Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases.
- A2 (Elementary): Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance.
- B1 (Intermediate): Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
- B2 (Upper Intermediate): Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
- C1 (Advanced): Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning.
- C2 (Proficient): Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
You can take a placement test here.
It is important to note that everyone learns at their own pace. Some people may be able to achieve proficiency in French more quickly than others. The key is to find a learning method that works for you and to practice regularly.
It is recommended that you attend social events with French people, like after work drinks at the bar or office. This is a great opportunity to improve your French comprehension and build your confidence in spoken French.
French classes in Paris
There are many options for learning French in Paris. You can take classes at work, at a public or private language school, or with a private teacher.
Some companies offer language classes for their employees. Check with your employer to see if this is an option for you. Taking classes at work can be a convenient way to improve your French skills without having to travel or pay out-of-pocket.
Public language schools
There are several public language schools in Paris that offer French classes. These schools are often more affordable than private schools. Some options include:
- Sorbonne University – offers a range of French courses for international students and members of the public interested in improving their French language skills.
- Alliance Française – has been devoted to sharing and promoting the beauty of French language and culture since 1883.
Public language schools often have large class sizes and follow a set curriculum. This can be a good option if you are looking for structured instruction at an affordable price.
Private language schools
There are also many private language schools in Paris that offer French classes. These schools often have smaller class sizes and more personalized instruction. Some options include:
- LSI – teaches foreign languages at its own schools across the world.
- Oxbridge English Language School – helps learners improve their foreign language skills regardless of their objectives and level. They also accept CPF funding to reduce the overall cost.
Private language schools may be more expensive than public schools, but they often offer more flexibility in terms of scheduling and course content.
You can also hire a private teacher for one-on-one instruction if you prefer smaller teach environments. This can be a good option if you want personalized attention and a more flexible schedule. Private teachers can tailor their lessons to your specific needs and goals. Here are some websites we recommend for finding private French teachers in Paris :
- Preply – An online platform that connects students with private language tutors.
- Superprof – An another website that helps students find private tutors in their area.
- Apprentus – A website that offers a wide selection of private French teachers in Paris.
French classes online
In addition to taking classes in person, there are many options for learning French online. Some popular online French courses include:
- Coursera – A website that offers a wide range of online French courses from top universities and industry leaders.
- ILA French Language School – offers top-quality online small French lessons with dedicated and experienced teachers.
- Berlitz – Offers online one-on-one instruction with a native speaker.
Learning French online can be a convenient way to improve your skills from the comfort of your own home. Online courses often offer flexibility in terms of scheduling and pacing.
How to pay less for French classes
There are several ways to reduce the cost of learning French.
Are French classes tax-deductible?
In some cases, expenses related to education or professional development may be tax-deductible. It is best to consult with a tax professional to determine if your French classes qualify.
Ask your employer
If your employer offers language classes or has a professional development budget, they may be willing to pay for your French classes. This can be a great way to improve your skills without having to pay out-of-pocket
CFP (compte personnel de formation)
If you are working in France, you may be entitled to Mon Compte Formation (CPF), which is an annual budget for training and professional development. You can use this budget to pay for approved French language courses.
In addition to taking formal classes, there are many websites and apps that can help you learn French on your own. Some popular options include:
Useful websites and apps
- Refold.la – My personal favorite way to learn French. A framework for language learning based on scientific studies on how humans acquire languages. Offers paid courses and vocabulary decks.
- Duolingo – A free app that offers gamified language learning, with a monthly paid premium version.
- Memrise – Another free app that uses spaced repetition to help you learn vocabulary. Also offers a paid version.
- FluentU – Offers immersive language learning through authentic videos.
Using websites and apps can be a fun and effective way to supplement your formal language learning. They often offer interactive exercises and games that make learning French more engaging.
The most important thing is to find a method that works for you and to practice regularly. Consistent immersion is the most important thing you can do to continuously improve your French, it’s why I recommend Refold.la, as it encourages active immersion every day. With dedication and perseverance, you can achieve proficiency in French and fully immerse yourself in Paris.