The student experience at IALC-accredited language school ILA Montpellier:
As I came to study French in Montpellier at ILA French language school this March, little did I know that two weeks later we would be confined because of the COVID-19. I will start by saying that the first two weeks of French classes was already an experience that I will not forget, from invigorating topics discussed in class to meeting new people from all over the world. The classes are small, so it allows for a more intimate space to be able to get to know one another and express yourself more easily without the pressures of a large crowd. The way class is designed keeps me really invested and we do something different everyday.
For starters, there is always a new grammar topic to ensure that you are speaking the language correctly, and the topic depends on your level of French. We read fascinating articles, excerpts from books, or listen to interviews and videos that all range from a wide array of subjects. I have enjoyed this because not only do I feel like I am learning in French, I also feel as though I am learning about many new ideas or having new discussions that I had never had before. Thus, I am not only bettering myself as a French student in Montpellier, I am bettering myself as a student for the world!
While two weeks is perhaps not enough time to fully become acquainted with a new city, I learned quickly that I loved Montpellier and all that it has to offer. The city is relatively small, so it felt less overwhelming to me and easier to get around. The young, artsy city has a lot to offer from adorable cafés with sunny terraces to local boutiques or fun concept stores and museums. Not to mention the amazing food! After classes, we would sometimes go to the park near school to bask in the sun and get to know each other more while surrounded by the beautiful nature. Or there are the bars to get to know more people from other classes. The opportunities are endless.
After my first two weeks had passed and the Coronavirus began to spread more and more, we were told our French courses were now to be held virtually. At the beginning, I was a bit worried that with classes being online I would not be able to immerse to the same degree or progress my French as before. But boy, was I wrong! The French courses have proved to be just as profitable and amusing online as in the classroom. Even though we are not together physically, classes go on just as before and later in the day to accommodate those that are in different time zones since they went back home but are still taking their French course. So yes, my friends from class are still able to take them from wherever they are without having to be in Montpellier!
The classes are taken on Zoom, which is a platform that makes learning pretty simple. Our teacher can put up documents or videos on the screen that we can follow along with all together, making it feel like a real learning environment (in your pyjamas)! I signed up for the Standard French courses, so they last for three hours and fifteen minutes, and they still do with the classes being online. Since my online French courses are in the afternoons, I have time in the mornings to do homework from the day before or simply to do other activities. I decided to stay in Montpellier, so it has been really helpful to ensure a more complete immersion. I go to the market to get my fresh produce and to practice my French, or I explore the city while going on walks, seeing it from a new perspective as things are more still during this time.
Taking classes online has been a great way to keep me busy during confinement but mostly to continue advancing in French. I come away everyday having learned something new, whether it be a new grammar topic or a new article I read that I cannot wait to share with others. Whether they are online or in person, ILA’s French courses and their wonderful teachers have helped me learn so much on my path to excelling in the French language.