Going to University in France

I first started learning French about 2.5 years ago and have since spent 16 months in Montreal and 3 months in France. I have fallen in love with France and want to do anything possible to be able to stay there long-term (I am a 31-year old American).

My level of French is probably between A2 and B1 which would not be adequate to begin a Licence (equivalent to a bachelor's degree) Program in France, so my plan would be to attend a French immersion program for a year at a public university in France and then immediately start a Licence Program (preferably at the same university).

I have done research online and sent e-mails to many French Language departments at several universities with varying results.

I am curious if anyone on Duolingo had the same idea as me, and if so, maybe they have some tips/shortcuts or university recommendations to help others hoping to do the same.

If others are interested, I would be glad to share my experience and maybe it will be helpful to someone down the road. Perhaps this could become the go to thread for those looking to study in France to continue their love affair with French language and culture.

December 7, 2015


Update - I sent out about 40 e-mails to all the French as a Foreign Language and French Immersion departments I could find, and to my surprise, I already had about 20 responses this morning. It looks like many of them run year long courses which meet 20 hours a week and cost around 1800 euros per semester.

I am planning to start in September 2016 and do a year of French immersion study and then hopefully have the B2/C1 level required to begin a Licence Program in September 2017. I'm not exactly sure how the Student Visa stuff will work out. It should be easy enough to get one for the year in language immersion, but ideally I would like to be able to stay in France the entire time and not have to leave the country after my year of language study ends, get my visa sorted, and then return to France for the begin of the full university study. I guess I will have to cross that bridge when it arrives.

December 7, 2015

[deactivated user]

    I think that the universities will have some sort of assistance for the visas, especially if you plan on returning to the same university to do a Licence (since they would already have you on file). Do the immersion programs include housing? If so then that would be a great option. I was going to recommend Middlebury Language School in Vermont, where you would have to sign an agreement to only speak your target language and failure to do so could have you kicked out. However if the immersion programs in France includes housing then it would be a better deal than Middlebury.

    December 8, 2015

    Thanks for the info pomrou. Many of the replies mentioned student housing. It was not free, but it seemed to be at discounted prices. Some offered a bed, others a small studio, and some gave the option to live with a host family. The host family option seems very intriguing, at least for a semester.

    Middlebury sounds very interesting too. I know I always have the urge to switch to English when I know it's an option, but I think the fear of expulsion would keep me in line! Maybe if they offer Spring or Summer programs it could be an option while I'm waiting to return to France.

    December 8, 2015

    Have you heard of the TAPIF program ? That could allow you to live and work in France as an English assistant for 9 months. There are also lecrtice and maitrise positions which are assistants in universities but most positions require a year of a masters degree I believe. Check the regulations for America. I want to do it but am not eligible because I have to be enrolled at university at the time of application but I have already graduated :( Rules may be different for Americans though! They differ country to country. Also, some postgraduate degrees are offered in English in France (and the fees will be a lot lower than U.S.). I think France may have less English courses than other countries but it's worth having a look. I have seen articles that give advice on this so google something like, countries where doing a masters is cheaper than U.S. or something like that. Good Luck! I hope you get a chance to live your dream.

    December 7, 2015

    Thanks LuciaCatherine, I will look into it. I am mostly looking for a way to be able to stay permanently in French, which is why I am looking into the university route.

    I thought about going the English route for university in France, but figured it would be a bit of a cop out and I decided to start with language immersion and then a full French degree program for the total French experience!

    I hope that you can find a way to make it work in France!

    December 7, 2015

    ca est tres bien that is awsome (^ ^)

    December 7, 2015

    I studied abroad in France last semester at a French language school in Besançon, which could be an option for immersion before going for the licence. The CLA (Centre de Linguistique Appliqué, which is part of the Université de Franche-Comté) conducts placement tests and sorts everyone by their level, so you'd be in classes with other international students — often with French as the only commons language. I was put into the last section of B2 before C1i (having had five semesters of French courses at university), and have definitely reached C1 since then. The town is very green, has good public transport, a good amount of diversity, lots of history, not too big / not too small. Also found it to be fairly affordable. Bonne chance !

    December 12, 2015

    I had sent an email to the CLA department at Université de Franche-Comté a week ago and it would certainly be an attractive option. I am leaning towards studying at the Université de Strasbourg as they seem to have a good immersion program as well.

    Are you still in France or were you just looking for a short-term trip to France? Did you have any problems acquiring a Student Visa in order to study?

    I think I am either high A2 or low B1 and I am hoping that a year of immersion will advance me to a high enough level of French to be accepted into the University.

    December 13, 2015

    I'm no longer in France, but I was there for a study abroad semester (~5 months). Student Visa was no problem, just had to make sure I had alllllll the documents they needed! Not sure if it's for all programs, but the CLA needed a translated copy of my birth certificate. My home university program covered this so it wasn't a problem, but definitely something to keep in mind when enrolling independently. They also might have needed proof of housing — which I had on the CROUS campus in Besançon (~20 minute ride on public transport to the CLA, or a 35 min walk). Also not too many English speakers compared to a lot of bigger cities, which helps.

    For attending university at the Faculté des Lettres, I think C1 is needed. A year should definitely be plenty to attain that!

    December 13, 2015

    Good luck! I tried to get a nanny job in France and while I had a few families interested in hiring me, the process was not too promising. I hope you can get over there. Live the dream for me!

    December 8, 2015

    have you looked at for short term positions, many requesting child care?

    December 8, 2015
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