vendredi 9 mars 2012

Learning French: Immersion Programme with the Alliance française de Rouen

I spent about 10 years studying at my local Alliance française (AF) in Australia, the Alliance française d'Adélaïde. It provided a wonderful environment for learning the language as well as an understanding and appreciation of the culture. The social events and support by teachers extends way beyond the classroom. I have also been fortunate enough to have made some wonderful lifelong friends who are equally passionate francophiles. 

My confidence in the AF organisation meant that I had no hesitation in choosing the AF for each of my linguistic stays within mainland France. I have done 5 stays including the last 3 at the AF de Rouen. Once I had done my first stay at Rouen my initial resolve to go to a different location each year was broken. The AF at Rouen not only met all my expectations but greatly exceeded them. I initially chose Rouen because I had spoken to other students at the AF in Adelaide who without exception spoke of the extremely positive experiences they had in Rouen. They cited the teaching skills of the staff, small size of the classess, warmth of the homestay families and the programme of visits. As an added bonus there was the ease of getting to Rouen from Paris by train in just little over an hour. They even organise transfers from Paris airports if you prefer.

My first visit to Rouen was organised through through the AF d'Adélaïde. I booked my flights but they organised my registration and payment for the course and the homestay. It could not have been simpler. All queries were quickly dealt with by my local AF who got back responses overnight from the AF in Rouen. Several months before I was due to leave I was allocated my host family and this enabled us to establish a relationship through written correspondence before my arrival. I chose to stay with them for each of my return visits.
Students participating in tour of Rouen
It can of course be daunting staying in someone else's home but I need never have worried with my family. My family was a retired couple and Mamie (Grandma). Breakfast was light and you helped yourself to it. I only had to ask if I had any special requests. Each evening there was a lot of laughter, joking and sharing over the gourmet dinner which the husband started to prepare immediately after breakfast. Dinner was included in the half-board family home-stay. Only French is spoken. Even with students who spoke nearly no French the family worked hard to ensure they were welcomed and were always supportive and encouraging of the students' attempts at French. Dictionnaries at the dinner table were not considered out of place. On my first day at the AF my homestay mother took me to the Alliance and introduced me. The family also provided me with an initial orientation of the town, ensured I was confident to use public transport and took me on visits in the region. I really felt I was a part of the family and not just a boarder. Staff in the office, teachers and homestay families actively encouraged feedback on all aspects of the homestays to ensure any concerns are immediately dealt with.

The first morning at the Alliance there were aural comprehension and written tests to assess competency in order to place you in the most appropriate level. Ongoing continuous assessment by teachers ensured that students remain in the most suitable class. Talking to other students I found that they all felt they were in a class commensurate with their abilities and were happy with their progress. Except for complete beginners, courses started each Monday which provided great flexibility when trying to fit in with travel plans. You can choose to stay for as few or as many weeks as you like.

The teaching staff were not only extremely professional but I would have to say very gifted. Over my 12 years of studying French I have had many teachers but the expertise of the teachers at Rouen in teaching adult learners from a huge cross-section of cultures, ages and backgrounds a second language is astounding. The classes were animated which made the entire learning process lots of fun. Time just flew. The classes were small and a variety of resources were used so that grammar, conversation and culture were integrated into all lessons in a natural and entertaining manner. Even if staff speak other languages they exclusively used French and always exhibited patience and good humour.

Mont Saint Michel Pictures, Images and Photos

The office staff helped locate services in the town and even had bus passes for sale. Free internet and WiFi was also available. In the afternoon cultural and linguistic workshops were run which provided opportunities to focus on a particular topic of interest eg film, prononciation etc. A comprehensive programme of visits was provided and could be selected and paid for once you were there. The visits included Mont Saint-Michel, Bayeux Tapestry, Monet's Garden, Amiens Cathedral, Somme, D-Day landing beaches) etc 

I so appreciated what the AF de Rouen did for me and was doing for other that I chose to work voluntarily for them both in France and in Australia for a number of years. The personalised, warmth of the welcome from all those involved including the host family, teaching and office staff, the professionalism of the programme and the supportive environment make the AF de Rouen a highly recommended choice for a linguistic stay.

Video about Rouen (in French)

Alliance française de Rouen, 80 boulevard de l'Yser, 76000 ROUEN France

4 commentaires:

  1. The AF seems to do an excellent job in many places. I taught technical translation for a week at the AF in Chennai a few years ago and was amazed at the remarkable level of French of women who had never been to France! Rouen definitely sounds like a wonderful experience. It's a lovely city as well.

    1. Thanks for sharing your feedback. I agree the AF does a great job in promoting French language and culture. They do this whilst operating as a non-profit organisation.

  2. I was wondering if you encountered any programs for children learning French in Rouen? I'll be there this summer with my 7-year-old daughter and I'd love for her to be able to participate in French language classes and activities with other children her age. I'm having a hard time finding any such programs though. Merci pour votre résponse et pour votre derniere poste sur mon website.

    1. What a wonderful opportunity for your 7 year old. Whilst they don't routinely offer programmes at the Alliance française de Rouen for 7 year olds I would strongly recommend that you direct an enquiry to the Director, Dominique Waag, who can be quite creative at coming up with solutions. You will find him very helpful and he also has a lot of contacts within the community in Rouen. He can be contacted via the form at: I hope this helps.

      By the way, I loved the photo on your website taken from the hill overlooking Rouen. Brought back lots of good memories.


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