Attend French university from your own home!

MyFrenchLife™ - french university - en provenceEver wanted to study in France but just don’t seem to be able to find the time to up and move? ‘Living the dream’ can be just a bit hard when you have family, work and time commitments in your home country.

Here at MyFrenchLife we’re all about finding ways that you can ‘Frenchify’ your life. So even if you can’t study in France, we have found a solution: virtual learning. We’ve already highlighted some of the best elearning resources out there, but for those among us who want something more, here is the answer.

Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOC, is an initiative to make countless university classes accessible online. This initiative was developed as an extended version of distance education in 2008 in the United States. It has grown ever since with more and more international universities joining the ranks. 

With universities in France, French-speaking Switzerland and Canada beginning to participate in the program, the courses have become a fantastic resource for French language learners. Although these courses all come under the MOOC title, the structure of each is dictated entirely by the specific university – meaning you can have that unique Francophone university experience.

A challenge for your French

MyFrenchLife™ - French university - learn FrenchFrench university courses are by no means a walk in the park; classes are challenging and intellectually stimulating but a sense of reward upon completion is guaranteed. For those of us Francophiles who lead busy lives but want to do something fulfilling with our French language skills, MOOC is a wonderful opportunity.

The courses vary but usually course material is provided as well as video tutorials and lectures, so you’ll feel as though you are benefiting from all the usual advantages of physically attending. What’s more, if you have any questions or would just like to discuss something you find interesting, online interactive forums are set up for this very purpose.

Sounds pretty good, right? But how exactly do you go from couch to completing a university course in French? Here’s our run down of how best to use MOOC to practice your French.

At your own pace

One of the great things about the online courses is that many of them offer classes in French but with English subtitles. So when confronted with confusing and specific jargon, you can take your time understanding what exactly is being said with help of les sous-titres. Furthermore, the readings are often provided in both French and English, depending on what class you are undertaking.

If you don’t feel confident enough about your French level, there are some classes that are taught in English with French subtitles. Depending on your learning style, this too could help you learn new vocabulary.

Enrich your knowledge

Courses offered vary greatly depending on what university you are looking at and at what time of year you are looking to start. Coursera or EdX are great resources to find free courses taught in French. They offer everything from Political Studies at École normale supérieure, to Introduction to Computer Programming at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne

MyFrenchLife™ - French university - edX

If you don’t find anything you like the look of, come back in six months’ time, as more and more universities are providing these online courses.  

Time commitment

Understandably, undertaking a university course, whether in French or otherwise, requires a significant time commitment. However any form of study requires time, so if you are already devoting time every week to a French course, think of this as a more flexible alternative!

On the course information page, look out for the number of hours required of you each week as an indicator of exactly how time consuming it will be. Courses require two to four hours a week for six to eight weeks – but this will vary depending on the subjects you choose. 

Having studied at French university myself, at first the course requirements can seem overwhelming, but very quickly you will find that you adapt to studying in a foreign language.

If time is scarce for you, or if you’re just getting back into learning the language, see some of our other suggestions for learning French online.

Time investment in your future as a Francophile

MyFrenchLife™ - French universities - learn ParisOf course one of the best elements of these courses is that they are free – so you can always start a course and then drop out if unsatisfied. If you decide to treat the course as a French language learning exercise, your actual results or certification for the course matter will not be particularly important. 

However with this achievement under your belt and a certificate of completion in hand, you will be prepared to undergo the next step in your French life. Whether that be sitting the DALF or putting your learning into practise the next time you go to France, you will be thoroughly prepared. 

Even if you are unsure if this sort of study is for you, have a look around at what is offered, you may just find something that piques your interest! 

Have you done any online courses in French? Or have you tried any MOOC courses? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

Image credits:
1. L’université by Elliot Brown, via Flickr.
2. Learn French by Sarah, via Flickr.
3. edX by Mikel Agirregabiria, via Flickr.
4. Learning Paris by Gustavo Devito.

About the Contributor

Sahara Wilson

I have just returned from living in Paris and love to indulge in all things French even when in my hometown of Melbourne. I hope to be a lifelong learner, taking my readers with me as we discover worldly delights! Tweet me @DesertDeWilson or find me on  Google+.

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  1. Christina Guzman Oct 28, 2014 at 10:53 AM - Reply

    I used coursera for a bit of french practice and it was excellent – granted much of the content was very sophisticated so it took me a while to understand everything but I think it helped me a lot. I would highly recommend it, even if it’s just to practice french and not really learn content 😉

    • Julia Greenhalf Oct 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM - Reply

      Ooh this sounds really interesting Christina! What sort of things do you learn with it?

      • Christina Guzman Oct 31, 2014 at 9:02 AM - Reply

        It is! you should definitely give it a go 😀 I took some history course that lasted a few weeks, but there are writing courses and coding courses that you can take in french 😀 It’s really cool.

  2. Julia Greenhalf Oct 29, 2014 at 2:05 PM - Reply

    These are some great ideas and I think it would be really interesting to see the results of how people go about studying French by distance ed. I wonder if many of these courses offer an oral component – perhaps a Skype session with a tutor to keep up oral and conversational skills?

    • Christina Guzman Oct 31, 2014 at 9:04 AM - Reply

      I think it’s great to upkeep your skills but it would definitely be harder (I think ) to progress if you’re a beginner wanting to learn – you’d be too flustered. I didn’t see any with an oral component but I didn’t go through everything 🙂

    • Sahara Wilson Nov 5, 2014 at 11:36 AM - Reply

      Hey Julia, some of the courses do have video sessions but the purpose of the courses is to learn about a new topic that just happens to be taught in French, not really to practice conversation skills (although this would be a bonus) so there’s not a great focus on Skype sessions in any of them. One-on-one skype sessions seem only to be available for paid tuition focusing on French language, which is a whole different ball game to MOOC!

  3. Kathy Stanford Nov 3, 2014 at 4:52 PM - Reply

    MOOCs are not only available by universities. I am a couple of weeks into a MOOC on impressionism being run by Grand Palais and Orange. The Facebook page ‘MOOC Francophone’ is useful to find MOOCs on a variety of topics for those interested in improving their French but wanting to extend themselves beyond courses specifically aimed at teaching French to non-native speakers. The videos used in the impressionism course has French subtitles which can be very helpful.

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