WANT TO LEARN FRENCH THIS SUMMER? HERE’S HOW TO FIND A QUALITY ONLINE FRENCH COURSE
by Chené Koscielny
Since the lockdown, many of us have turned to online learning as a way to expand our horizons and acquire new skills, including learning to speak better French. But type French online lessons into Google and your heart sinks at the plethora of options. Suddenly anyone who speaks French can offer courses online to a trapped audience forced to consider virtual learning.
So, how do you find a quality online French course? How do you know you’re going to learn fast and efficiently without being ripped off?
Luckily, we have been learning French with Prêt à Parler – an online French language school based in Geneva – since long before lockdown. They’re also not new to online teaching: they have been doing it since 2015 and have a reputation for excellence.
Read our review: Would you like to finally be able to speak French?
We highly recommend Prêt à Parler, but don’t take our word for it. Here are our tips of what to consider when choosing an online French course.
TIPS FOR FINDING A QUALITY ONLINE FRENCH COURSE
What makes a school good isn’t just the results their students obtain. Commitment to quality teaching makes a difference.
Teacher training programmes and experience in online teaching is very important. Just because someone has access to Zoom doesn’t make them proficient to teach online. A great online teacher should be able to make lessons feel warm and personal, as they would in real-life. Prêt à Parler’s so-called ‘Super Profs’ have more than three years of experience with Zoom and other interactive tools used during the lessons. I have Yohann as my teacher – and he is charming and very professional.
Find a school which is good at troubleshooting. Always ask about IT support in case there are tech issues, which will inevitably happen at some point. At Prêt à Parler you can get support via their live chat service and you have a private channel for you and your teacher.
STEER CLEAR FROM BORING AND MONOTONOUS TEACHING
Just because a course is online doesn’t mean it follows the latest trends in language learning. Steer clear of monotonous repetition and look for schools that offer personalised, effective learning that helps you target specific goals.
Do they effectively integrate other online tools such as YouTube, newspaper or blog articles useful to your everyday or business life ?
My goal was to improve my business French. I also needed to practice conversation to become more fluent. My classes were geared towards these goals, using a variety of online tools, and I felt a lot more confident after only a few lessons.
The best part? All classes are recorded, and a PDF with detailed notes of what was learned during class is emailed to you, along with homework for the next class.
THE TOOLS AND SECURITY
Schools are meant to be safe spaces. Online schools should be the same. Their software and apps should also be kept up to date.
As a teacher myself, I’ve been a big fan of Zoom and use it to teach my yoga classes online. The interaction, viewing options, sound, and ease of use made me choose this option.
There have been reports of security issues with Zoom during the Covid-19 situation due to an influx of personal users, which led to unauthorised screen sharing and other issues. Luckily, Prêt à Parler has an in-house mobile security specialist in the form of owner Isabelle Nicolas-Johnson’s husband, Samuel Johnson. He was quick to reassure us that the TLS encryption* standard used to make the Prêt à Parler lessons private is perfectly secure.
*If this means nothing to you – you’re not alone. TLS or “transport layer security” is the same technology that web servers use to create secure connections for e-commerce payments and many other encrypted activities
WHAT ARE PEOPLE SAYING ABOUT THE SCHOOL?
Check out the school’s online testimonials – particularly referring to online learning – before signing up for a course. It will give you a better understanding of whether the teachers can connect in a warm and personal way with students learning online, and how effective their teaching methods are.
This is what Winnie, a current Prêt à Parler client, has to say about her online experience:
Having attempted to learn French for countless times, I am glad to have finally found a system that works for me. I started my lessons with Prêt à Parler in the summer 2019; 6 months later, I successfully passed the Fide test with B1 in both oral (88%) and written (94%). The remote online lesson, to my positive surprise, is much more effective and focused than the other courses I had taken. The learning experience is engaging and personalised – thanks to my teacher Yohann, and this is supported by a small team who really cares and strives to make the experience better. I especially appreciate the flexibility in time scheduling, which I need due to my work and travel.”
WHAT ELSE IS INCLUDED IN THE DEAL?
It’s worth considering whether the school offers you more bang for your buck.
Are you getting a standard class, or are there additional perks to help you learn faster? It not only is better value but also shows how innovative and on-trend the school is, as well as how at ease they are offering online solutions.
At Prêt à Parler – students have access to a series of popular group lessons led by their teachers, as well as a learning platform for independent learners, (French For Everyday Life). They also offer daily doses of French on the form of Instagram posts, live French-language games on Facebook Live, as well as a weekly newsletter.
DIFFERENT OPTIONS FOR DIFFERENT BUDGETS
A savvy language school offers different options for students on different budgets.
At Prêt à Parler, besides the free content published daily on their social media channels, they also offer a FIDE Exam prepping webinar, a 30 Day French Challenge and a special webinar series.
They also offer low-cost options that start at 20 CHF.- per month for access to their Premium Webinar Program.
Private online lessons and language programs of 5, 10, 20, 40 lessons or more, cost between 90 and 110 CHF per lesson, depending on the chosen program and include access to the premium webinars and e-learning platform (French for Everyday Life).
READY TO BRUSH UP ON YOUR FRENCH THIS SUMMER?
MENTION THE CODE: TTDIGMay2020 for a 10% DISCOUNT on packs of 20 lessons or more. (*Offer valid until 30 June 2020*)
Bon courage with your search for an online French language school and let us know how you get on!