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Alliance Francais or Institut?

(11 Posts)
Cromwell1536 Fri 27-Jan-17 16:32:01

I'm learning French and am at the classic B1 intermediate stuck level. I know loads - read Le Monde happily, Zola and Irene Nemirovsky, can write a decent piece (using online dictionaries) and whizz through the grammar exercises. But I'm getting less and less able to speak the language and I struggle to understand broadcasts, etc. I listen to RFI podcasts and do the audio exercises and that helps a bit, but I really am getting frustrated by the gap between my ability to recognise and decode the language and produce it. I go to a weekly class, supposedly to prepare for the B1 DELF exam, but I'm nowhere near ready, and I'm not going to waste the money registering for the exam. I find the little practice we get in the class at speaking is not really helping - it's frustrating to speak haltingly in a room full of other people, also speaking haltingly! (I'm at City Lit). It's not really our teacher's fault, it's the fact that 90 minutes a week is only really time enough to show us the content we should be learning, run through the relevant grammar, hand back homework and maybe do a tiny bit of speaking or listening practice.
However, I do want to persist and would like suggestions on what next. I'm in London and my next port of call is either the Alliance Francais or Institut Francais. Does anyone have any experience of either?

DMnamechanger Fri 27-Jan-17 16:35:08

I don't, but my top tip is to find a conversation partner to practice with, or take one-to-one conversation lessons. You are very clear that your main issue right now is speaking, and the only way to get past that is to speak! Just French, no English.

DMnamechanger Fri 27-Jan-17 16:37:10

Also talk to yourself out loud if you are ever alone at home or in the car. I used to pretend that I was being interviewed on a radio programme blush

Cromwell1536 Fri 27-Jan-17 17:35:20

Thanks DM, I'm coming to that conclusion. I think I still need to be in a fairly tutored environment, even if it's one-to-one conversation, so a teacher rather than a speaking partner. I have tried the latter, whilst living in France, but trying to make myself understood and understand over the student cacophony in the basement of SciencePo was not very satisfying!

Lico Tue 14-Feb-17 20:52:07

If your issue is mainly spoken French, I would try to join clubs where French natives congregate. The Institute might be better; cinema, theatre , Library, cafe, clubs etc.. Alliance is more for learning. Look up Ici Londres free magazine ; you find it everywhere for instance La Page bookshop -South Ken.
No easy answer really ; just go to France/Belgium as much as you can ..

SignoraCarmignola Thu 16-Feb-17 13:27:29

Have you considered italki

SignoraCarmignola Thu 16-Feb-17 14:25:09

And I spookily just received an email on this very subject and I'm passing on the information - not sure if it's what you're after:

it's on the Kwiziq french site

madcapcat Wed 01-Mar-17 08:03:55

I've just passed b1 delf at the institut in Edinburgh and would highly recommend them. Our (90 min per week) class was taught entirely in French by a native French speaker so we had no choice but to speak. It was horrible to start with, but my French came on in leaps and bounds, (although the oral part of the exam was still awful.)

SignoraCarmignola Thu 02-Mar-17 08:39:34

Oh, well done madcapcat. That's brilliant.

I don't have an Institut français or Alliance française anywhere within travelling distance, sadly. It would make practising speaking so much easier.

Ancienchateau Thu 02-Mar-17 08:47:13

Institut Français. Everyone goes up 2 levels minimum after 6 months. This is a 20 hour week though but stretch it out a bit ... what level do you want to be? C1/2 is considered fluent.

Lexilicious Mon 12-Jun-17 16:23:45

Hello! I am living overseas (Georgia)and have taken two courses at the Institut here (because it's incredibly cheap since it is priced for the local market).

I am a lowly A2 but my confidence has leapt up. I did Elementaire-3 in Feb/Mar and Pre-Intermediare just now. Everyone else in the class is local, and the teacher didn't speak any English (her second language is Russian). This meant that I always had to explain myself in French if I wanted anything clarified which was excellent discipline. Almost all the other students spoke embarrassingly good English and a load of other languages too so I wasn't left out if I really couldn't do it. Another thing was that a lot of the 'curriculum' (Alter Ego textbooks) was about French culture, and so I was often asked to compare and contrast with the UK. So I've found myself recently talking about minimum wage, jobcentres and recruitment agencies, flat-sharing etiquette, and all sorts of other things.

I work, so unfortunately I don't really have time to carry on. That's why I've come onto this bit of MN actually, I was going to ask how to keep up over the summer and also what is a reasonable (minimum) amount of time per week to be able to make progress.

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