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Letters extracts

Former students’ comments

Some unsolicited comments from former students

6 March 2018

“I recently completed 4 weeks at the Institut de Francais. I knew the place was highly rated but as I was a “debutant” in the foreign language domain, I really had little idea what I was in for apart from an expectation that I would make good progress. The experience and outcome easily exceeded my expectations.
At its heart, the Institut de Francais is obviously about education but it is also so much more than that. If I was told that I was going to spend 4 weeks on the Cote d’Azur, be inspired by great teachers make more progress with the French language than I could have hoped for, study with so many interesting people from all over the world, forge close friendships, experience French culture and have a fantastic social experience, then I would have been a little sceptical. But that is exactly what the Institut de Francais delivered.
To put it succinctly, in a short space of time I have been taught solid foundations, particularly from the “spoken French” perspective, by teachers whose expertise is unquestioned and whose passion for their profession is abundantly evident on a daily basis. A special thank you to my class teacher Sylvie, for making the language come alive, and to all the other teachers – Frédéric, Julien, Edith, Stéphan – for collectively being experts in disguising learning a language as having fun.
If you have the opportunity to study at the Institut de Francais, my advice is simple – clear your diary and just do it. Like me, you will be truly grateful for the experience.”

Greg KEENAN, Lawyer & Football Agent, AUSTRALIA

5 March 2018

“Institut de Francais – what an amazing experience !
I recently took a French language course at the Institut de Francais, located in Villefranche sur mer. Having done some research on language schools, I went in with high expectations, given all of the very positive reviews that I had seen. After 4 weeks with the school, I can honestly say that my already high expectations were by far exceeded!!
This was not only the most fulfilling French language educational experience I have had, it was overall one of the best experiences of my life – If your goal is to be immersed in French both in and out of school, while also experiencing everyday life on the Cote D’Azur, this is the place for you!
By the end of the program, armed with 4 weeks of intense french language teaching, every student was able to engage in more sophisticated french conversations – a huge difference from day 1, where there was a lot of hand gesturing used to communicate.
What makes this school amazing? For me it was clearly the teachers. Led by Frédéric, this is an amazing team (Julien, Bruno, Sylvie, Edith,and Stéphan), who have been teaching together at the school for many years. These teachers are engaged, dynamic, and motivating which is exactly what you need if you want to jump into the deep end.
The teachers and their teaching method help you gain confidence, and when you have confidence, the flood-gates open and French starts to pour out! The lesson topics are relevant and impactful. The teachers are adaptable and never miss an opportunity to teach something new. Although focused on oral communication, the amazing thing is that without realising it, you also learn and absorb grammar in a very natural way. It’s all about communication! And the teaching approach supports this – you won’t be taking heaps of notes or running through conjugation all day, which is refreshing. You learn with your ear!
The day goes by quickly and you make close friends whom you continue to talk in French with outside of class. However, the best part, aside from the great teachers, the program, the location and the other students, is that you learn while having fun.
Highly recommend it!”

Scott GRAHAM, Banking Executive, UK

28 February 2018

“After several years of struggling to learn French on my own for both personal and professional reasons, I came across the Institut de Francais online and— having read many glowing reviews— arrived here with high hopes.
The Institut did not disappoint, and in some ways exceeded my expectations. My professors were each excellent, dedicated educators truly at the top of their profession, and they were also hilarious! Not a day went by that we weren’t laughing in the classroom, over lunch and (most of all) during the post-lunch “seance practique” where we learn about French culture, social etiquette and how to navigate everyday life. The class size of 8-10 was ideal and I was amazed by how perceptive and observant the professors’ feedback was for each individual student. Their teaching method is very unique, and I’m convinced it’s the most evidence-based, effective way to learn how to speak French.
My ability to speak fluidly and correctly has improved by light years, and I honestly loved going to school each day. Eight hours is a LOT of French, but the schedule is structured so that every activity happens at just the right time to keep you engaged, learning, practicing and enjoying the learning process.
I was so sad to leave but I have no doubt that I’ll join the ranks of the many alumni who come back !”

Laurie SCHLEIMER, Medical student, Harvard Medical School, USA

18 February 2018

“I was very satisfied with the course and very happy with the method.
The emphasis on spoken French was new to me. I am now less shy and have the courge to speak, thanks to the practice I’ve acquired. Your method is indeed very effective and it’s a shame that it can’t be found in other schools (but of course that is your trademark).
I was very happy with my teacher who was fantastic, « magnifique ». He does everything with such ease. It’s not like a regular school teacher coming to class with his papers and the written subject matter. He makes it look and feel like a game and the class goes along and progresses like a well-oiled mechanism.
I was sad to have to leave after 2 weeks. I must say that the first week was difficult for me. You have to adapt, get to know the teacher, the method, etc. Three weeks is really the minimum one should plan on.”

Translated from the French

Peter AGHA, First Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, SLOVAKIA

1st February 2018

“I had an idea that it would be difficult. It was all the right challenge !
Edith, my teacher, is fantastic : she is energetic, positive, funny. I learnt very well from her : she is professional, thoughtful in the manner she presents things ; she is also very creative in the way she introduces difficult things : she pushes the students to bring out the best of them.
Julien ! I could go on and on about him too … He makes you feel completely confortable an is so funny. He makes you feel that you are part of something.
It’s obvious you have a lot of pride in your school. You can tell you all have fun

together !”

Emily MONAGHAN, Consultant for Non-profit agencies, USA

1st February 2018

“I love dit ! I‘ve been trying to enter the subject for years. I took courses in Yale, in Paris. But in the Institut I feel I’ve been enabled to speak, to have the capacity to penetrate the subject.
My teacher Cyril and the other teachers made the language available to me. The method has given me the confidence to speak the language.
Cyril is an exceptional teacher : he is masterdul. He knows how to hold the class. It is just wonderful. The instructors are marvelous.
I am just thrilled. Thank you so much !”

Richard BROOKS, Professor of Law and Economics, NYU, N.Y

20 December 2017

“The best place to learn French – great teaching method in the most beautiful location !
I have studied for two months at the Institut de Francais and would not hesitate to recommend it to anyone who would want to speak French quickly and correctly.
On the first day of your arrival, you take a battery of 6 tests so that the school can exactely determine your linguistic capabilities and your level in French. This is very helpful as you will not need to guess/decide what level you should enroll in.
For each level, the school has a very experienced, caring, professional and fun teacher. They are all linguists with excellent teaching skills and very approachable. During your stay, you will have one dedicated teacher as well as many different sessions with the other teachers.
The school also has a couple of teachers who only plan and run “practical sessions”, where depending on your level of French, you may practice booking and ordering in a restaurant, discussing and understanding French idioms, slangs or the terms used in the French news.
The school method is very specific : it is an oral method with the aim to help you speak by end of your course and it works almost like magic! You will meet people who on the first day cannot say a word in French and by the third week they can hold a conversation and discuss many topics.
I made such great friends at the Institut that even after finishing the course, we have continued to travel together to different parts of the world.”

Sahel KASHANI, Sollicitor, GB

19 December 2017

“Best school for learning French in the world.
I found this school by chance and I have had an amazing 4 weeks here learning French in an amazing setting with the most wonderful teachers who are very serious about making sure one leaves with spoken French and all the benefits of understanding the nuances that are important to survive in French.
It was tough, as no English or other languages are allowed by the students or the professors but this is the best way to learn and well worth the initial struggle to shut down your primary language.
I highly recommend the program and my teacher Cyril was a true professional as were, Julien, Sylvia, Stephan, and the teaching supervisor Frédéric (who has an amazing sense of humor!!).
This was certainly a highlight of my experiences that I have had and I have progressed my French beyond what I thought was ever possible.
Well done !
And although it may seem a bit costly, when you look at the hours spent by the teachers in preparing everything and how professional the entire institute is run, it is actually a good deal (trust me I have tried other lesser expensive schools) and this is actually value for money because you get results !”

David C., Financial Advisor, CANADA

17 November 2017

“I liked the experience very much. I came to the school in order to start speaking French again as I had not spoken it since my school days 30 years ago.
I never knew how to proceed ; through television or the press seemed too hard.
Now this program has helped me a lot to start again on the road to spoken French ; I am no longer afraid to tackle it ; I understand everything better.
A whole world has opened up for me and I am ready to develop in it.
My teacher was super ! He listens intensely to his students and has a real sense of language. You feel that he has a lot of experience in linguistics, coupled with a lot of humour. So it is never tiring nor did I ever look at my watch.
On top of which my apartment and the food were very good and the view magnificent.”

Translated from the French

Gordana MIJUK, Head of International section, NZZ am Sonntag, SWITZERLAND

16 November 2017

“It was fantastic ! I will recommend it to all my friends. My teacher was the best teacher I have ever had ! Through humour and skill, he created a group that was dynamic ; he understood and adapted to everyone’s rate of learning and overall progress.
I am very happy to have had this experience. I also appreciated the practice sessions ; they were very effective.
All in all, I am extremely happy and grateful, impressed by the program structure, the breakfast, the discussion-lunch and the rest.”

Translated from the French

Anna MYERS, NGO Women Refugee Commission, USA

9 November 2017

“I want to give you a very positive feedback. I could read and write French but I could not speak it or express myself. It has helped me a a great deal to attend the Institut.
It was a bit difficult in the beginning of the course ; I had forgotten how to concentrate on the purely oral French.
My teacher was very nice but strict. She helped me channel my energy towards effective results. That was a very good thing. My apartment was fine. The food was marvelous and I love Nathalie, the Chef.”

Translated from the French

Annette LISY, Geographer, Federal Ministry for economic Affairs and Energy, GERMANY

8 November 2017

“It was really super. My teacher was fantastic. He is funny but strict, patient, dynamic, super. He is very pleasant and very good.
The program is super, very intensive. There is a lot to take in, but it’s very good and the teacher makes the whole thing light. The other teachers too. You’re all very good, very nice and professional. I was very happy with the experience and would like to come back.”

Translated from the French

Fleur RAVENSBERGEN, Deputy Director, Dialog Advisory Group (NGO), NETHERLANDS

25 October 2017

“It’s excellent! I learnt so much over a short period of time. I really like the atmosphere of the school and the fact that the emphasis is on spoken French and on the interaction between students and teachers. The level of the class was homogeneous. I loved my teachers! All of them. They have a great sense of humour. Some are true actors, like Julien for instance. When he explains things, it illustrates and conveys so well the French way of life and you understand so much better!
All the activities are well organised. Practice sessions are useful, particularly on those aspects of everyday situations. However, listening to the TV newscasts in the morning was very difficult for me; it did go over my head but I understand that one has to get used to it.
I am glad that I had the chance to be immersed in the French language and culture and be able to speak French all the time. I am very pleased with my results and progress. I studied French in school but never felt at ease with spoken French. Now I do.
The food was amazing.”

Translated from the French

Maria VON WREDE, Marketing Executive, GB

24 October 2017

“It was excellent for me! Our class was varied in ages and individual aptitudes but our teacher, Peggy, handled it with much patience and skill! I like the way the program is conducted. It’s a very good mix of both culture and language. I found the other students utterly interesting.
It’s very important for my job that I can attend such a course. I studied French a long time ago. Coming here was a very good opportunity to regain my French and build up my weakened confidence. It was a unique experience for me to be able to leave my job for 4 weeks and concentrate totally on French.
Actually, there is no such program in the US and I am going to recommend it to the Foundation as I think, really, this is a very good school! We have just opened a new branch in Nigeria in West Africa, the French speaking part and many persons in my organizations will need to learn to speak French.”

Translated from the French

Michael GALWAY, Deputy Director, Polio Program,
Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Canada

21 September 2017

Great Experience !

“I attended the Institut de Français for three 4-week sessions this past year, with the goal of being able to apply for a job that requires a working knowledge of French. I started in “beginners” and by the last session was in the “advanced” class. While I still have a lot to learn, I am so impressed by how effective the teaching method was at the school. It is an oral method, but if visual learners (myself included) can just accept the method and go with the program, they will definitely see results… Every time I changed teachers, I was disappointed because I thought there was no way my next teacher would be as good as the prior. But every teacher was consistently excellent, dedicated, and professional. I really can’t say enough about how impressed I was with the instruction…
…I highly recommend this school to anyone who wants or needs to learn French! “

Joanna BALZA, Nurse, Doctors Without Borders, USA

15 September 2017

“A MUST DO if you want to learn FRENCH!!

One of the best experiences of my life. I spent 2 months at the Institut de Français and I can’t say enough good things about it … The teaching method used is unique as the class is phonetic/oral, created in a way to teach French quickly and efficiently… they’ve done this for years and if you trust the method, it works ! I had no previous experience in French and started as Débutants 1.  I advanced to Intermediate 2 by the second month. I left there easily able to hold a conversation, and structure sentences and questions, grammatically correct in French ….I had the pleasure of being exposed to many of the teachers, but most notably Sylvie, Frédéric and Julien. All phenomenal. ..”

Ariane SIGALOW, Executive Assistant-
Finance, New York, USA

16 June 2017

“Best decision ever !

It was intense, demanding, sometimes difficult but also fun and so productive.
After studying for several years a language that I love and still not been able to have
a basic conversation, it was pretty frustrating.
Four weeks at the Institut de Francais in Villefranche, that’s what I needed.
I never thought that in only four weeks I could get so much confidence in speaking and understanding when listening to the news.
The location of the school, the facilities, the daily program of classes, the beauty of Villefranche are in itself an inspiration and a motivation.
To Stephen, my patient, persistent and so knowledgeable teacher, Julian, Bruno, Frédéric, whose sense of humor made every Séances Pratiques and easy invitation to learn, Natalie, our Cheff and her incredible staff that spoiled us with those delicious breakfast, lunch and tea delights, to Anne and all the staff at the Institut, you will always have my gratitude for all you do to make our experience, an unforgettable one.”

Sara PRINC, Retired Bookeeper manager, Australia

21 May 2017

“I recently completed a 4-week course in intensive conversational French at the Institut, and cannot speak highly enough of the dedication and professionalism of the staff. As a teacher of French myself in Australia, I found much to challenge me in refining my usage of French and in getting a useful refresher on French current affairs through the morning news briefings conducted by the inimitable Julien…
…The insistence on speaking French at all times on the premises helped to overcome any sense of pretension in speaking French, at whatever level, and made the communication real. This was continued in the dicussion-lunch sessions where teachers facilitated table conversation with energy and good humour… My particular thanks go to my teacher, Stéphan, whose energy, wisdom and profound linguistic knowledge continues to inspire me, some weeks out from the course.
Thank you, Institut!”

Chris SIMPSON, French Teacher, Adelaide, Australia

3 February 2017

“It was marvellous ! Bruno is the best teacher I have ever worked with. A lot of talent, always in a good mood. That helps a lot.
The group (in class) was magnificent !We spent a lot of time together, which proves the school’s effectiveness.
The school provides all the tools ; 4 weeks is ideal. Practice sessions covered social phrases, shopping, telephone conversations : very useful. Slang : very useful.
The food was absolutely perfect. At the same time, well suited to a school, generous portions, nicely presented and always fresh.
My apartment was super !”

Patricia McKENZIE, Broadcasting Company Director, GB

1 November 2016

“MAGNIFIQUE !
After studying 2 months at the Institut de Français I have no doubt that this experience was one of the best investments of my life. Firstly, the school is fantastic – from the location and facilities up to the meals provided, everything was just great and very well organized. The teachers are outstanding and always ready to help all the students. The immersion approach really works and the sensation of improving your French skills in such a short period is AMAZING. I stayed in a private lodging booked through the Institute, the place was perfect: comfortable, very clean, good internet, great view. I will definitely return to the Institute and the super lovely Institute´s team.”

Denis MIOLI, Hotel Manager (AccorHotels), Brazil

“… You have, in my opinion,one of the GREAT French language schools in the entire world ! Not only are you and your colleagues doing outstanding work, professionally, but also, through your warm personalities you are contributing immensely to better human relations between people from all around the world… “

William B. PAUL, Lawyer, Atlanta, USA

“…You should be congratulated on the high standard of your professors. I also enjoyed the very efficient way your French language school is operated. There was not a minute wasted, although there was no feeling of undue haste…”

Parnell THOMAS, American Express, New York City, USA

“…During a period of four weeks you helped me to improve my oral expression from “débutant 1 to intermediate/advanced level”.This fully satisfied my expectations… As a former Associate Professor at the University of Oslo, I want to point out the extraordinary performance of my teacher using your comprehensive method…”

Dr Martin TROLLDALEN, Norwegian Church Aid, Oslo, NORWAY

“… I would like to say again how much we have appreciated the perfect quality of the Institut’s teaching. The teachers’ devotion created a relaxed atmosphere which largely contributed to our progress and success.

I have become an unquestioning enthusiast of the Institut and will recommend it wholeheartedly…” (translated from the French)

Harry KNEY-TAL, Israeli Ambassador to E.U., Brussels, BELGIUM

“… I would like to point out that the work and the atmosphere at the Institut de Français are exemplary and should be recommended. As a pedagogue myself , I am in a position to judge the methods and ways of teaching. I feel that the activities of the Institut should serve as a model for an institution in adult training.”

Prof E.J. KORHERR, Rector of the Academy of Vienna, to French Ambassador in Vienna.

“…Your French language school is incredible in its results. My French teacher of one year in New York was very impressed when I returned from one month at your school. It is because of the remarkable results that I greatly wish to return to your Institut…”

Astrid Dawne JONES, Housewife, New York City, USA

“…The Institut de Français’ methodology and intensive French course structures were very well prepared. The teachers were very skilled at making the classes constructive and enjoyable… I suggest you keep using the Institut for UNICEF officers who need to improve their French…”

Per-Olov LENNATSSON, Evaluation report to UNICEF, New York, USA

“…I hereby would like to express my deep appreciation for your French language course… All facilities were excellent : the high standard of all the teaching activities, the superb meals, the most interesting excursions and the accommodation provided… This was a memorable experience…”

(translated from the French)

J A J BROWN, Engineer, AUSTRALIA

“I undertook the 4 week French course in June this year (2015) and I wanted to take the opportunity to relay my thanks to the school and ALL the teachers who made my time with you so enjoyable. I had a truly wonderful time and think I spent one of the happiest months of my life in Villefranche and learning at the institute…I think the method used was superior to anything else I have experienced…”

Dr Philip Thompson, medical consultant, UK

“The Institut is very, very good. I very much liked the debates , the opportunity to use all possible sentences and expressions. My teacher was wonderful. The program and the methods are superb. As an Intermediate 4 student, I could see the progress of every student, even that of the Beginners. Our tutor-teacher was unbelievable ! Hard but a nice guy.” (translated from the French)

Edward McCauley, Vice-President (Research), University of Calgary, Canada

“…The school is of a very high standard, especially the professionalism of the teachers : all of them without exception. It’s very impressive.
I appreciated the program’s intensiveness and scope, placing the focus on the spontaneity of oral expression : the most difficult thing to teach !
My teacher was great and gave me excellent, parallel training in diplomatic language.”

Paul LEHMANN, Australian Ambassador to African countries

“…My thanks for making my month at your French language school most enjoyable. Your lessons combined with your wit and good humor made it so much more fun to learn and helped to ease the stress I felt at first…”

Sylvia S. PACHECO, World Bank, Washington D.C., USA

“…I went to a special French language school where wonderful teachers and students gather… The image of the school I have is the smiles of the people there. The teachers always point out our mistakes but when they do so, they try to make the students relax with their gestures and smiles.”

Hironori SUGIMOTO, Student in hotel management, Osaka, JAPAN

“… You have inspired me to learn this language well. As a teacher I cannot say enough about your abilities,and I believe I have seen the best teaching methods these last 4 weeks than in my life…”

Vernon MARTINS, Mining Engineer, Kenor ASA, NORWAY

“…I offer my evaluation of this French language school. 1) the instructors were outstanding… In addition to being skilled and dedicated, they are such intelligent, informed, expressive people. 2) the building, furnishings, dining service, and instructional equipment, are excellent. 3) the housing provided deserves compliments.”

Robert S. DAVIDON, Dept. of Psychology, Lebanon Valley College, Annville, USA

“… As for my teacher, I have a handful of diplomas and I was once a vice-president of the City University of New York and I tell you : her teaching is unequaled. … So my friends, thank you for your time and always all your humour. … There are wonderful moments (in life), beyond expectations. Such a moment was my time at the Institut de Français.”

Robert Huber, former chief speechwriter to Mayor Guliani, New York

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Villefranche-sur-Mer 25 °C
June 21, 2018