French immersion in Nice by Raishma- Feb 2017


I’m a typical Brit in that I studied French at secondary school for five years and subsequently parked it to one side once I finished school and have never used it since. I had always regretted not pursuing the language further in some way, shape or form and it was only through personal and professional goals I set in January 2017 that I resolved to become fluent in French once and for all. I was incredibly fortunate to find a two week slot with Geneviève at the last minute and I flew to Nice in trepidation and excitement at what lay ahead over the next two weeks.

I should have feared not. From the moment I met Geneviève at the airport, I lost my fear and inhibition and managed to tap into the dark depths of my memory that had lain dormant for the past fifteen years, to hold a conversation in very basic, imperfect French. By the end of my first morning in Nice, we had pulled together a work plan based on my strengths and weaknesses as well as my objectives and happily arranged our excursions as part of my programme.

The lessons in the morning were structured using material Geneviève had prepared and they provided the foundations for me to do further work in my own time to consolidate what I had learned. I found Geneviève to be a fantastic teacher who was able to convey the principles of French grammar in a very easy and simple way. Concepts I had struggled with at school suddenly made sense when taught by Geneviève. Each lesson covered speaking, listening, reading, writing and comprehension skills ensuring my progression in the language was balanced.

In the afternoons, I visited various attractions around Nice, from the numerous museums and art galleries to meandering through the narrow cobbled streets of the Old Town to find a quiet coffee shop to do some work. I found people were perfectly willing to be patient as I practised my broken French when out and about, which helped tremendously as it encouraged me to speak more in French without reverting back to English at the first sign of discontent or difficulty.

I was spoilt in the evenings by Geneviève, who is a fantastic cook and we shared some delightful meals together over a wide range of conversations from politics to showbusiness in French, no less. By the end of each day, I was shattered – physically and mentally but went to bed happy in the knowledge that I was making progress that was beyond my expectations.

The immersion programme was exactly what I needed to kick start my journey in learning French – it is jumping in the deep end but with a good teacher you’ll find you float and eventually, if you stick at it, you’ll swim. I feel very fortunate to have found in Geneviève a wonderful teacher/mentor who is generous and knowledgeable. She also cares about helping me achieve my objectives and provided guidance and advice with the work plan she created for me to follow on my return home. It is also thanks to her persistence and encouragement that I have registered to sit the DELF B1 in June, which if left to my own devices I would never have dreamed of doing.

I throughly enjoyed my two weeks in Nice and am planning a return trip in the Autumn for the next stage of my journey to achieving fluency in French. There were plenty of highlights over the course of the two weeks but there were two that stood out for me above all. Our trip to the charming village/hamlet of Èze, which was combined with a visit to the local Fragonard factory and a meal with Geneviève’s friends and family to celebrate the birthday of her brother and cousin. I cannot wait to return for the next chapter…

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