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All You Need to Know About French Classes

By Maria, published on 23/10/2019 Blog > Languages > French > French Lessons at School

You live a new life for every language you speak. If you know only one language, you live only once. – Czech proverb

If this proverb is correct, it means that millions of Americans are only living once. In this highly globalized world, the stereotype of the monolingual and ignorant Americans might soon be changing. More and more people are taking a leap to learn a foreign language.

Learning a foreign language, especially one as global as French, can open a ton of doors for your future. Speaking French can be more than just the result of taking a French class, it can be your route to exploring a new culture and world.

No matter how hard it may seem at first to pick up on those grammar lessons or get the right conjugation, always remember that it is worth it because, in the end, you will be part of an amazing and diverse community of almost 300 million French speakers.

If you have decided to take French lessons, keep reading to find out where and how to find the right language course for you.

The Roots of the French Language

The modern French language has been derived from the branch of Romance languages. When analyzing the origins of a language you usually identify what language family they belong to. The French language is dependent on Latin and therefore part of the Romance languages. Other Romance languages include: Italian, Romanian, Spanish, and Portuguese.

roman legacy The roots of the French language extend to Roman times. (Photo by Nils on Unsplash)

Although French is known as the language of romance, that term does not actually correlate to it being a Romance language. The phrase of romance languages actually comes from “romanica loqui” which is Latin for speaking in a Roman fashion.
French can be traced back to the year 842. One of the earliest documents written in what we would later begin to call French was written in that year and it was known as the Oaths of Strasbourg.
From the Oaths of Strasbourg the language has taken long roads to get to how it is today. As the Roman Empire expanded, they brought along their Latin language to replace the local Celtic languages in the region of Gaul. In addition to its Roman, Celtic, and Gaul origins, the French language was also influenced by the invasion of the Francs. The Francs were a Germanic tribe. This invasion created a divide in the languages spoken in current day north and southern France.
The southern language was “langue d’oc” and the northern language of the region was “langue d’oil” which eventually grew into Old French. By 1539 King François I declared this to be the only official language in France.
Since then, the language has gone through changes and standardizations. The French government has played a role in the regulation of the language both in France and the countries that became colonies during the 19th century.
Keep reading to find out more facts about the history of the French language and how it became so widely known around the world.

Reasons for Learning French

French is one of the few languages spoken on 5 continents. It is a language that has shaped not only France, but the world. There are 29 other countries that have French as an official language, making it a truly international language.

countries that speak french One of the main reasons people choose to learn French is because of its internationality. (Photo by Kyle Glenn on Unsplash)

There are several reasons why you might want to take on a second language but here are just a couple to why learning French is your best option.

  1. French can help you improve your career options. French one of the languages of international relations. It is used in some of the most global organizations. The UN, UNESCO, NATO, and the International courts all have French as an official language. This means that if you hope to ever work for these organizations, you will need to step up your game and get some french language courses.
  2. Explore more of the world. Since French is widely used in 29 countries, there is a chance that your next vacation might be made a little easier if you at least know basic French. Knowing about the French language and culture can make your time in a tourist hub, like Paris, much more memorable.
  3. Broaden your opportunities for university. French universities are some of the best in the world. They are also some of the cheapest. In the US, it is typical for an in-state student to pay almost ten grand to attend a university for their undergrad degree, while in France the tuition for the same degree can be a mere €190 per year. By taking on language immersion and speaking French, you can get your degree for 2% of what you would pay in the US.

Middle School French

In order to take advantage of all the opportunities that learning French can bring, it is important that one start their journey to fluency as soon as possible.

In the US there are plenty of opportunities for middle school students to start learning French. Some public and private middle schools offer french classes as part of their curriculum or offer language programs as electives.

The curriculum goals of a typical middle school French class would include some of the following:

  • Understanding the influence of the French language and culture around the world.
  • Learning about France and basic French history.
  • Learning to communicate in basic French. Oral and written communication would be enforced during class time.
  • Understand french in written and spoken form.

If your local middle school doesn’t offer French language courses, there are still plenty of opportunities for middle school students to take lessons. Private tutors, like the ones right here on Superprof, are eager to help you or your child excel on their path to a new language. They are available for in-person online french lessons.

High School French Classes

Language classes are widely available to high school students. In a recent survey, it was shown that 1 in 5 US students are enrolled in a language class. These numbers are also expected to rise as the popularity of bilingualism is also growing.

If your high school offers multiple French immersion courses, they might ask you to take a placement test.

study abroad in france Taking a French course in high school can open up opportunities for cultural exchanges in other countries. (Photo by Isaiah Bekkers on Unsplash)

Some high schools also offer more advanced levels of french education. Apart from regular high school level french classes, programs like Advanced Placement (AP) and International Baccalaureate (IB) might also be available. These special classes are for advanced French.

AP and IB courses focus on perfecting your reading and writing skills in French as well as an emphasis on expanding your French vocabulary to help you reach conversational levels.

These high school French language classes might be a little tougher but with the right teaching methods and practice, you can come out fluent in French by the end of the year.

The Best French Revisions Guides

To learn French you are going to have to immerse yourself in a lot of new grammar and vocabulary. Improving your language skills can be easy with just the right French review book.

french vocabulary Reviewing French vocabulary can be made easy with the right revision guide.

Most French courses will demand you to take an exam at the end of the class to prove your proficiency. In order to do well, your revision guide should match your level of French and the area of the language that you would like to focus on.

If you are taking an AP course, the exam review book like Barron’s AP French Language and Culture Review is your best bet for exam preparation because it has two full-length practice exams and incorporates French culture into the material as the real AP exam will do.

For the IB French exam, you will need to pick up a copy of Oxford’s IB Skills and Practice for French B. It is the most highly recommended book by IB French teachers.

This review book contains practice exercises for the conversational French section of the exam, as well as tips for studying French.

Find out more about French review books by clicking here.

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