French Classes of Paris – Cheap or Free Edition

Paris is known to be pricey, but behind all those high price tags you can find just as many affordable or cheap things. The same idea applies to finding french classes in Paris. There are some more expensive, “higher end” schools that maybe provide additional resources, smaller classes, and one-on-one tutoring, but you can find good or at least good enough classes if you know where to look.

Note: If you are trying to apply for a student visa, many of these options listed will not qualify you for the visa as they are non-profit or state run. These classes could be good in addition to your Alliance Française or Campus Langue classes, but don’t try and enroll and apply for a visa. 

Alright let’s get started. Your first resource should be the following website 

Reseau-alpha.org

This is a list of places where you can take french classes and potentially attain a DELF certificate (A1, A2, B1, etc). Plug in your zip code (or any postal code or city) and it gives you a list of many organizations that offer classes. I’m not 100% sure, but it seems most of these are non-profit type funded schools and exist to help immigrants succeed in France. This is how I found my current class. I searched for a place and time that would work for me and emailed them and set up an “interview” to measure my level and determine which class I should be in. It varies by center, but my experience has been overall positive. A lot of centers, the Crois Rouge for instance, will be listed and give you a link to their website, but you will have to email or call to get more information about the specifics and times of the classes.

Example using the 15ème, 75015. There are many places and formations available. Click the + and then “En Savoir Plus” to learn more. Usually there is an email address available. If you are confused about their offerings, don’t hesitate to send an email explaining what you are looking for and asking if that is offered.

Regarding my class, I am in the “A2 fort” class and there are I believe 21 people total in my class, but only 10-17 tend to show up to any given session. The class is a good aid to my own french studies, but you really need to do a lot of studying on your own to improve. What this class does help me the most in is motivation and perspective. Motivation because it helps keep me on track and consistently studying, but perspective because I get to meet people from all over the world. There are a handful of people who speak really well, but have trouble progressing in writing and reading. Either they didn’t get a great education when they were younger or their alphabet is completely different to what their native language is. In my class we did an “examen blanc” basically a practice test and I realized that the test is very biased towards reading and writing skills. If you aren’t strong in those areas, filling out the listening comprehension section and doing parts of the oral section can still be difficult.

Classes through the Mairie

The Mairie of Paris is the most well-known state run classes, but many other city councils in other cities offer french classes as well. You might have to do a little more digging or have more flexibility to attend. Anyone is welcome to register for the Cours Municipaux d’Adultes, but good luck.

The Mairie of Paris classes are good…. so I hear, but it is hard to get into them. I registered for the B1 class of the spring, but a week before classes started I got a notification that I was not accepted and basically there was no room for me and I was not on a waiting list either. It’s a strange process, but I’ll try to outline what I understand. Below you can see my answer letter. From what I had read online you would probably be put on a waiting list, evidently, they just didn’t like me.

Registration for the Mairie classes are a little unconventional, at least for US standards. Instead of being first-come, first-serve, it is more like a lottery. It’s not even a selection process because you don’t really get the chance to say why you want to be in this class or why you deserve it. You give your basic information and 250 characters of why you should be in the class, but it’s not enough to create a selection criteria. It doesn’t matter (I don’t think?) when you register, but you have to register before the deadline. In January I tried to register immediately on the day at the exact opening time, but alas, for whatever reason the website was not working properly. We even went to the building and asked if we could register in person, but apparently we just had to wait until the website decided to fix itself and allow registrations. I registered a good 2 weeks later, but didn’t hear back for an additional 2 weeks. It’s a pretty strange process. I had friends who were on the waiting list and took the test, but didn’t get accepted in the end. Best advice? Cross you fingers and hope for the best.

Classes through OFII

Likewise with the Mairie classes, good luck, but not in getting selected; good luck to actually find these classes. Do they exist? I think so, but not exactly.

If you were assigned hours through the OFII, they should have given you the information for dates and times in your arrondissement (usually Saturdays). If you weren’t required to take basic language classes, then the OFII might tell you, “Great well you can take A2 or B1 classes through us, just check this website.” This is the website they recommend, but it looks like it’s currently only for the Rhône Alps Regions…. Hmmm

After a bit more research, I found this website that talks about the missing A2 and B1 classes, but it seems like they are in Saint Denis or Creteil, neither of which I would be keen to go all the way out to. You’ll have to email them for information though, although I don’t really recommend taking classes through the OFII. I’ve read too many horror stories….

Online Classes

There are french classes offered online through Fun MOOC, which is a library of “massive open online courses” that are sponsored by universities and schools through the French Government. There are a wide range of topics and not just french courses, some courses are offered in English or with English subtitles.

I personally find online classes difficult to focus on and get through, but I think it’s a good option to have for practice and reinforcement. The french classes are created by Alliance Française and 100% and actually pretty high quality and include a lot of cultural activities. If you aren’t in France yet, I suggest starting with this! It’s a great way to get aquatinted and start to learn. 

Language Exchanges

There are many language exchanges throughout Paris, especially if you speak English! Every french person in the business world is dying to improve their English so they can get the job, or successfully communicate during their next meeting, etc etc and they all are willing to share their french if you share your English. There are many to check out, but here are some resources to get you started.

Franglish – Located in many french cities, but also other countries including Britain and the USA. Great because you speak in french for 7 minutes, english for 7 minutes, then you swap partners.

Meetups – You can find lots of meetup groups on the meetup website/app, search for what works best for you.

PolyGlot Club – Similar to Franglish, but seems to be more like a party meetup group than a speed dating style language exchange.

Paris Language Exchange FB group – Find a partner or find events through here.

Other Places to Check Out

Last Thing

If you haven’t already, read the Fluent Forever book and read my post about it. Seriously, this will help you outline a self-study method to learn french or any language. No one single method or class is going to help you learn a language and it’s best to combine a variety of resources so you get a fully immersive experience, although if you’re already living in Paris, you are one step ahead!

How are you learning the french language? Let me know in the comments below!

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