I have met all sorts of people during my French language stay here in Montpellier each with different types of personalities and characters. One of the many great things about coming to learn French in France as opposed to doing it in your home country is that you have the opportunity to get to know a wide variety of people from a variety of countries and cultures. It definitely has had an impact on me to see the differences between people but even more so to see what we share. I feel that I can really see the unity and the common experience that pervades throughout the entire world. One thing that definitely seems to affect some people from every single country is shyness. This is particularly common amongst some of the younger students who might be making their first trip away from home to be here at the Easy French Language School in Montpellier. Having been here for a fairly long time I have seen people from many different countries who don’t have much confidence when they begin their language immersion experience and I have seen them grow and develop in a very interesting way. I have spoken to a few of them about these experiences and wanted to share what they had to say.
A Warm Welcome at the Easy French School
On the first day, a student comes to the language school they will have a welcome hour with the other students who are also on their inaugural day. This takes away some of the initial apprehension as the other people there also don’t know exactly what is going on so you are all getting acquainted together and experiencing everything for the first time.
When you first arrive into your actual French class you will normally be joining with a few people who are starting from exactly the same position which provides some comfort as you can figure out the structure together.
The teachers at the Easy French Immersion School are highly trained and very adept at involving everyone in the class. They are sensitive however to people’s varying comfort with talking in a group and often cater their approach specifically to the individual. They have a responsibility to engage with you to a certain degree and if you express a desire to focus on your speaking they will get you speaking more and more. They are very delicate though and if it is clear that you find it difficult in group speaking they are very talented at starting gently and increasing the quantity over time so it feels very natural.
Almost nothing is by accident in your French class and you will notice that sometimes when you are split up into groups to do a presentation piece or something like this the teacher might select certain people to go together. You would be forgiven for thinking this is just random but often what the teachers do is select students who abilities complement each other. For example, if you are a bit on the shy side and not too crazy about the idea of leading a presentation they might put you with someone who is a little more confident and talkative to take the pressure off you. This also has the added benefit of putting you with someone who is likely to speak more so you can learn from them as well and they can help you when you get stuck.
They definitely won’t let you stay trapped in your shell however and are going to engage with you and bring you out bit by bit. Speaking is such a huge part of the learning process it is impossible to learn French in France without a significant portion of it. The teachers will constantly be getting a feel for where you speak more confidently and not so they will know exactly where you need to work on and what you can take in your stride.
Through this combination of sensitivity to your comfort areas, knowledge of strengths and weaknesses and a gentle pushing to progress on your French immersion course you will naturally be brought out into the discourse. It is a French immersion experience so it’s impossible to only learn and not do but this is achieved in a very subtle way by the teachers at the Easy French School and before you know it you will be contributing more and more. As cycles end and people leave you may well see yourself go from the least confident speaker in the class to the most confident which in turn has a positive effect. This system is great for getting once timid students to being the leaders of their French immersion course.