If you are going to live in Paris, you have to learn to speak French.
Want to make friends with locals, find a job more quickly, rent an apartment, chat with strangers, and go about your daily routine and tasks with confidence, instead of beginning each interaction with a meek “parlez-vous anglais?“? Start speaking the language. You’ll be shocked how much easier life in the capital will become.
Learning French is also a matter of respect for the country you’ve come – or want to – adopt as your own. This sentiment isn’t exclusive to France. If you were to move to Italy you should learn Italian; to Colombia, Spanish; to Germany, German; and the list goes on.
Perhaps I’m coming on strong in this introduction, but think of it as tough love. I’m not trying to be rude or insensitive – I know that learning languages is hard, and that French can be tricky. But you owe it to yourself to try. You have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.
It doesn’t need to cost an arm and a leg to learn French, either. In fact, there are many cheap ways to learn French in Paris. You can learn more about a few options below.
Want to learn French for little more than the price of a drink, if that? Try out a language exchange.
You have literally dozens of options. From Meetup groups, to Facebook groups, to gatherings held at public libraries and English-language bookstores, there are ads for language exchanges plastered all over the city.
Language exchanges are either free, or charge a small fee. You can expect a decent-sized group full of people whose fluency ranges from beginner to native. As such, you won’t have a problem finding a local – or a the very least, someone at your level – who you can chat with for an evening.
Language exchanges are best for practicing your oral skills, as they typically aim to help you improve your natural flow of conversation in French and to build up your vocabulary, rather than to work on grammar.
What’s more, language exchanges are a fun way to make new friends who share your ambition to improve your French language skills. You might even find yourself a “tandem” or language exchange partner, who you can meet up with outside of the organized gatherings to work on your French.
Mairie de Paris French Classes
French classes can be really expensive in Paris. Thankfully, the Mairie de Paris (or City Hall) offers adult classes that are located all over the city, taught by highly qualified professors, fit into busy schedules, and are a great value for money.
While the Mairie offers all sorts of formations or adult classes, it’s their cheap French language programs that are a huge draw for foreigners. They offer a plethora of different options ranging from levels A1 to C1, that are further broken down into focuses such as speaking, writing, or speaking and writing. As such, you’re bound to find a class that’s perfect for your proficiency, whatever that may be.
Semesters are six months each, with two two-hour classes taught a week, for a total of 60 hours of instruction. They are held at public schools around the city after work hours – usually from 18:30 until 20:30.
The best part? It only costs around €140 per semester.
Unsurprisingly, the convenience and cost-effectiveness of these classes makes them incredibly popular. If you want a shot at getting a spot you have to submit your request on the CMA (Courses municipaux pour adultes) website, where you will choose your desired class, level, and location, as well as fill in a small questionnaire about your education level and reasons for wanting to enroll.
This has to be done before the sign up deadlines for each semester (7 September for the first semester and 8 February for the second semester). After that, you will receive an email in the coming weeks informing you if you’ve been tentatively accepted, wait-listed, or rejected.
If accepted, you will be asked to come in to write a placement test (a combination or written and oral) so that they can determine whether or not you are at the right level for the class. If not, you will be moved to a lower/higher level or wait listed.
While a lengthy process, the classes really are well worth it. As such, I’d recommend you at least try to apply – you may be accepted!