Ever 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
French 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.
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.
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
Of 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.
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.