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French courses to improve your language skills

It can be overwhelming trying to choose a French course with so many on offer - why not try one of these?

There are plenty of well-established French courses on offer to improve your language skills Pic: nito / Shutterstock

When you move to France, French lessons are a great way to not only improve your language skills but to meet other people in similar situations. 

French courses can provide a much-needed sense of community, and help you gain confidence in speaking French outside the classroom. 

While there are some free courses on offer (detailed, below), private classes are often the easiest and quickest way to get access to French tuition. But with so many on offer, it can be overwhelming trying to choose the right one.

Finding courses with native speakers is perhaps the number one thing to look out for in a French programme, as it will allow you to pick up the nuances of the language much quicker. 

Read also: Immersion in French language is stressful but leads to huge confidence

If you feel able to, it is also a good idea to select a course taught completely in French, even if your level does not feel up to it. This has been proven as the best way to learn a new language, and you will understand far more than you expect and quickly improve your listening and oral skills in a more comfortable environment.

Here are the first places you should look for French courses, both in France and abroad.

Alliance Francaise

Your local Alliance Francaise is a great place to start when it comes to language courses. 

The Alliances, special language training schools which were first established in 1883, have 30 branches across France in most of the major cities, as well as schools in 133 other countries.

With more than 500,000 learners each year, they are well versed in providing comprehensive French lessons given by native speakers. 

Most Alliances are teaching focused, while a couple are called Cultural Alliances, meaning that they offer lectures and conferences throughout the year. 

Courses on offer usually include group lessons with 4-12 students, private lessons, courses for companies, courses to prepare students for exams and intensive residential programmes. 

At the majority of Alliances you can choose whether to take the courses online or in person, and you can also sit language exams through the Alliance. 

More information can be found here: https://af-france.fr/en

University courses 

Universities often offer private lessons and these are usually a safe bet, with tutors taking the classes alongside their work with full-time students. 

These will almost always be led by native speakers, and you can choose your level and whether you want to focus on oral or written French. 

This applies to both France and other countries, with many UK universities offering evening classes alongside their full-time programmes of study. 

Read also: Speak French with an accent? Use it to your advantage

Institut Francais

If you are choosing courses in a country outside of France, look at your local French Institut, which runs programmes throughout the year for all levels, as well as putting on French events to help immerse you in the culture. 

Again, these courses are led by French natives living in the city and it can be a good way to meet other like-minded people who are interested in French language and culture. 

They also usually have a library with French books which may otherwise be hard to find if you are not in France. 

More information can be found here: https://www.institutfrancais.com/fr

Paris Mairie

If you are based in Paris, you’re in luck because the Paris Mairie offers French classes for different levels. 

Typically, FLE (French as a foreign language) can be taught in French or English, depending on your preference, and range from general B1 and B2 classes to more specific written and oral programmes. 

There are also classes available for fluent French speakers who want to learn to teach French to new learners or to refugees who have arrived in France.

Unsurprisingly, these courses are very popular and often oversubscribed, meaning you may have to apply a few times before being accepted onto a course. 

Each year there are various periods during which you can apply to a course for the coming months. 

Certain criteria may help you be selected onto a course, including the reasons why the candidate wishes to do the course and their goals for the lessons, as well as social circumstances, such as looking for employment. 

More information (in French) can be found here: Les Cours d’Adultes de Paris

Read also: These 10 songs can help you improve your French

Free French classes for migrants, refugees and jobseekers

Free French lessons are available to migrants, refugees and job seekers with the right to live in France, thanks to Pole Emploi, France’s job centre. 

People can enroll in around three months’ worth of lessons either part-time or full-time, which is then paid for by their local job centre to improve their prospects of finding work in France.

If this applies to you, you can register online or at your local Pole Emploi, and you can then request language classes from your designated work counsellor.

This is because learning French as a foreign language has been officially recognised as a professional skill since 2004. 

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