‘L’art d’apprendre le francais’ and ‘l’art de vivre en Provence’ are combined for those signing up for courses with Destination Francais.
It’s an Aix-based company started by two French teachers, tired of the classroom-based teaching methods they’d been tied to in the traditional system. They felt that learners need to engage with everyday life – and have the opportunity to learn about Provence while doing so.
Beginners are often met at the Office du Tourisme where they start with a map of Aix. As they familiarise themselves with the layout of centre-ville, they are learning new words and expressions. The teacher, either Fabienne or Chantal, will then add in info from leaflets and the bus timetables before helping the person approach the counter to get some information. Then it’s off to the market or the shops to learn about local products and how to order them.
These ‘Cours en Context’ help beginners deal with everyday life in Provence. Subsequent sessions take place in cafés around town – Le Jardin d’Amalula and Book In Bar are favourites for their relaxed ambiance – and here the teacher again bases the learning on discussions. More experienced French-speakers can be taken to exhibitions or the Cite du Livre for richer discussions – or to the Mairie to look at the mechanics of French life, if that’s what they need.
Note-taking isn’t necessary – Chantal or Fabienne note new words and email them after the session.
Of course sometimes more traditional teaching is needed to practise grammar but again, Destination Francais use authentic documents from Aix to base the learning.
The duo set up their company in 2008. Clients come from local businesses, or are individuals who want to learn from scratch or improve their level of French. One particular travel agency in Chicago send alumni for walking tours of Aix, in French.
It’s a very personalised way of learning; having new vocabulary and expressions given in context makes it click into place because the visual signposts stay longer in the memory.
I had an hour’s chat with Chantal in order to write this post. It was all done in French…and boy did she take me in hand! And yes, I got my typed notes by email afterwards….
Details of timetables and prices: http://www.destinationfrancais.com/