Do you want to learn French or improve your French? Have you had your fill of Duolingo?
If you’re living in Paris, one of the best and most cost-effective schools to study French is at the Mairie de Paris school for continuing education which is called Cours Municipaux d’Adultes, or CMA.
I was a French student at CMA for 1½ years and I highly recommend it. The curriculum was thorough, the teachers were all enthusuastic and I had fun learning with the other foreign students.
There are a various CMA locations for French courses, depending on what level you are and what times you want to go. The school I attended was in the 14th arr. on Rue Alesia. I took the daytime intensive ‘Française Langue Étrangère Oral + Ecrit’ course, 4 times a week, for 2 hours per session. The semester inluded 120 hours of classes and cost only 270 euros. Compared to other courses around Paris, this is cheap.
The deadline to apply for the second semester is January 23rd. The semester starts February 24th and goes until the end of June. If you miss this semester, the next enrollment is in August 2020. They do have a summer schedule too, but it’s more limited.
The biggest issue is getting into the course you want. The CMA courses are very popular among all foreigners because they are not expensive, the teachers, for the most part, are very good, and they have intensive courses available during the day or at night.
The first two times I applied to CMA I did not get a spot. The friends I knew who had been at the school kept encouraging me to keep applying. On my third try I was accepted. I was already at the A2 level (A1 is absolute beginners) because I’d taken French in high school and in Paris privately. Once I enrolled, on the first day I had to sit a short test to prove my A2 level. It consisted of reading comprehension and writing a short letter. I also had to interview with the professor for a few minutes.
To see the course schedule and apply, go to the CMA website. Be patient with the site, it’s a bit user- unfriendly. You do not have to pay to apply. You only pay once you have a spot in the class.
The class sizes are large. When the semester began, my A2 class started out at 31 students crammed into an old high-ceilinged school classroom. By the end of the semester, many students had work/life commitments and couldn’t finish the course, so we dropped to around 20. The classes were part lecture, part interactive, part solo exercises or group work. We were an international bunch, represented by over 10 different countries. We had a lot of fun, we always had good conversations and it was interesting to learn beside so many different types of learners and accents. At the end of the semester we had to sit a final exam that was in two parts. One part was a written exam with oral and reading comprehension and a writing exercise. The final part was an oral expression test, which consisted of a conversation with another student, in front of the professor. In the B1 and B2 levels, in addition to the final exam, we also had to make an oral presentation either by ourselves or in a group.
When I first started the course, I thought that 8 hours per week would be too difficult for me to stick with, but I grew used to the schedule and now I kind of miss the routine of it. We had some homework, but it wasn’t too taxing. Every couple of weeks we had to turn in a written essay on an assigned topic. These essays were more difficult and time consuming for me, but they were helpful in learning the French grammar, which is kind of nightmare. But, no matter how painful it was at times, I learned a lot at CMA and my French improved.
If CMA doesn’t have something that suits you or your schedule, or if you don’t get in straight away, there are many other French schools to check out (like Alliance Française, ILF or ICP), so don’t give up. Learning French is a good thing!