French is the official language and is spoken throughout the country, and in many former colonies. It is also spoken in the Romandy region in Switzerland, Wallonia and Brussels in Belgium, Monaco, the province of Quebec and the Acadia region in Canada. It is also common in Francophone Africa like in Gabon, Mauritius, Algeria, Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. It is estimated that there are about 220 million native speakers world wide. In addition, French is the second-most studied foreign language in the world after English.
English is studied by all students in France, as well as Spanish, Italian and German.
Speaking the French language is an important step to integrating into a new culture. Language schools are a great option for learning the language. There are full-time and part-time courses. Most offer sample lessons or let you sit-in for free before signing up. There are also many universities which offer French courses for students, and other courses for the general public. Check with the staff for courses and options. Shop around before choosing.
For other languages (Swedish, English, Portuguese, Spanish...etc)
Private lessons are another option. More expensive than language courses, these can be very effective for people who prefer one-on-one sessions. Expect to pay between €12 to €20 per hour depending on the tutor's qualifications and experience.
You can search for opportunities in a local newspapers, on message boards at pubs, copy centers, supermarkets, universities, and cafes, or on online boards such as Easy Expat's classified. There are also agencies that offer private tutor sessions like French as You Like It.
An exchange partner is an excellent resource for practicing a new language with a native speaker. As an added bonus, language exchange partners can help you understand the culture of the area and inform you of local happenings. Questions about gift giving, festivals, nightlife, and greetings can be addressed without worry. In the best case sceneries, an exchange partner is not only your ambassador, but a friend. Fond a tandem partner through the forum or network to work on language exchange. You can also try Let Them Talk.
Official French proficiency tests are administered by the Centre international d'étude pédagogiques (CIEP). A completion of a French proficiency test can allow you to opt out of a French university's language entrance exam and is a credit to your CV. The tests are the DILF (Diplôme initial de langue française), DELF (Diplôme d'études en langue française), and DALF (Diplôme approfondi de langue française). Certification consists of multiple levels with candidates working to obtain one of seven diplômes from the Ministére de l'Éducation nationale.
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