So, you want to learn French? You’ve definitely come to the right place!
It’s a great first step, and it’s a step that we should all be taking. Because, whilst there are so many wonderful reasons to learn a language, it’s not something that a lot of us Brits do. And, honestly, that’s both a terrible shame and something terribly silly.
Because, whilst more than half of Europeans are able to hold a conversation in a second language, only thirty eight percent of Brits can do it. This happens to be the worst rate in Europe – and for some reason this is something which we sort of laughingly pride ourselves on.
However, more fool us, really. Because being able to speak a foreign language is good for business, good for your own mental performance, and good for the culture in which your based. And, honestly, it just looks much better if you travel abroad and can manage a little something, even if that is ‘bonjour’ and ‘merci’ or ‘buongiorno’ or ‘grazie’.
So, guys, let’s sort it out. Whether you’re interested in learning a new language because you have fallen in love with someone from a different country. Whether you’re intending to get out into the world and travel. Or if you’re being relocated for work. Whichever is the motivating factor, be assured that taking language classes will be the best thing you’ll do.
And, whilst this article is focused on French language courses in Birmingham, if you are living elsewhere across the UK, don’t worry. We have information on French language instruction in London and on French language training in Edinburgh too!
In your language studies at school, the chances are that not much actually went in. This is the norm for most students in the UK. And this is presumably down to a combination of uninspired teaching and a failure to understand the actual benefits of learning different languages.
But the study of another language is a hugely beneficial thing for people in life. It literally helps your brain to combat the appearance of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It makes you generally cleverer, according to some research. And it helps you be better at concentrating and focusing.
And then there are the obvious things. It helps you communicate with more people – and to understand better their perspectives on things. It allows you the freedom to work and live in different places across the world. And it unlocks access to a different culture, with all the things that come with that.
It also just makes the world a better place, helping social cohesion, integration, and cultural understanding and empathy.
In the end, monolingualism – only speaking one language – ain’t as great as we might think it is.
There are so many options for learning French in Birmingham
Whilst language skills or some degree of fluency in any beyond your first language is great, we might say that French is a particularly handy language to know.
That’s because French remains one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, with over two hundred million people speaking it. It’s the official language in over thirty countries, spanning almost all the continents, and it is used as a lingua franca among countries that do not use it officially. It really is a world language, being, alongside English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese, an important language of diplomacy, trade, and politics.
Yet, it has also informed so much of our own language and culture that it is also just a very interesting language to study. Because the culture of France has been massively influential on our own throughout history.
It continues to be now. And it is the second most visited country by Brits in the world. If nine million of us went to France in 2017, it would be great to know that they could all speak the language!
Well then, how do you start with a French course? The answer to this depends on your aim and your current level of language proficiency.
So, if you are actually an intermediate level speaker merely hoping to brush up on some grammatical aspects of the language, you’ll probably be looking for something a little different to someone who has studied advanced French and wants conversational classes.
Similarly, a complete beginner who wants to start with basic French may well have to start a language program from the very start.
But don’t worry. Once you have found a place for language study that is convenient for you, the French teacher there will perform a placement test. This means that they’ll assess how fluent you are and your communicative ability before you join any language class.
Whatever your level, you’ll easily find a class that is a good fit for you.
Learn the French language, and learn French culture.
In Birmingham, there are many options available for learning French – from formal language programs with a native speaker teacher to conversational classes with your peers.
Birmingham is a wonderfully diverse place linguistically with over one hundred languages spoken by kids at school in the city. This means that loads of the people around you are already bilingual – and if they can do it, you can too!
The city has also got a huge number of French people who live and work there. Whilst the numbers are not quite so high as in London, the UK’s ‘second city’ is a place brimming with French culture. So, it is an excellent place not only to learn the language, but also to enjoy a lot of other great things about France.
So, let’s see what some of your best options might be – for the most serious language learners amongst you, and those who are looking for more of a hobby.
For those of you looking to start in or develop your French on a casual basis, the Birmingham city council houses Brasshouse languages in the mammoth Birmingham library.
Here, in different ability groups, you will learn everything you need to know to develop your proficiency in the language and will gain the ability to hold conversations, understand the written word, and pronounce things correctly.
It’s a great opportunity for all in Birmingham.
If you are finishing school and considering what you are going to be doing afterwards, you may want to look at university degrees in French. The University of Birmingham offers a great modern foreign languages school, which will really push you to the advanced level of your speaking and comprehension ability.
Obviously, a degree in French is not quite the same as attending French classes once a week as a hobby. Rather, it is a rigorous training in linguistics as well as in the literature, culture, history, and arts of France.
If a career in diplomacy or translation, travel or teaching appeals to you, then a degree like this would one of the best things you could do. And, you have the wonderful opportunity to do a year abroad!
The beautiful Bordeaux, in France.
It’s very common these days for people to find formal language schools a little bit tricky in terms of their actual effectiveness in helping to learn a language. These group sessions can pull one way or the other – the progression being too quick or too slow for a student – depending on the mere coincidence of people who attend.
And if you feel like you are moving too fast – or indeed not fast enough, this can be incredibly frustrating. Particularly when you can pay quite a lot for the classes.
That’s why private tuition is always a great option for you to consider.
For example, say you already live with a French person and hear them speak a lot. This means that your pronunciation might be quite good, but you lack the knowledge of tenses and grammar. A private tutor would be able to work specifically on this – whilst, in the meantime, you wouldn’t feel like you were being held back by classmates.
At Superprof, we offer the platform for students to connect with experienced, passionate, and qualified private French tutors. They will be able to tailor the lesson content specifically to you – and there would be no obligation to meet precisely once a week at the exact same time.
We have over ninety tutors in Birmingham who are available to teach you French – at an average rate of £20 an hour. And, to see what your teacher might be like, you’ll get your first session free!