This will be a blog post to write about my French immersion in Quebec City at BLI (Bouchereau Lingua International). I had been planning on taking a full week off work to do a week of French immersion, would have love to do 2 weeks but you know paid vacation days are only so many. I restricted my options to Canada as I didn’t want to deal with currency exchange, jet lag and I had a budget of about C$600. I decided to do my immersion in Quebec City and started researching options on the schools they have (unfortunately, there aren’t many).
While I have been taking French classes online and at AF in the last few months, I feel that true way of improving was to immerse myself in a French-speaking environment. It was also a way for me to get out of my introvert shell and meet new people.
How I chose my school?
It was a quick, few hours worth of research on my part. Limiting my options to Quebec City meant I only need to look at several schools to compare. I looked at Ecole Monde Quebec, BLI and Edu-Inter. There were one or two blog posts where people commented their experience at BLI. TripAdvisor also had some commentaries on these schools as well if you search carefully. The general impression I have was that Ecole Monde Quebec and BLI were better. I emailed them both to ask them for their prices.
- Ecole Monde Quebec: The website states that the average age of their learners were 40 and above. There were not much available packages to choose from. 20 lessons a week seemed to be the standard deal for C$315 (registration fee excluded). One on one lessons could be added but they were costly imho.
- BLI: Here, the learners are the younger crowd (aged 16 to 30) but most people I would say are in their late teens or early 20s. They have part-time, full-time, intensive and super-intensive structure depending on how many hours of the day you would like to learn. In addition to that, the school itself organizes events and tours to the museums (for extra price) that allows you to know Quebec city.
I decided to go with the super-intensive option as I wanted to make full use of my time during the week I was off work to learn. Including registration fees, material fee (no textbook included in this fee, more on that later) and course fee, it was C$555 for an entire week worth of lessons.
Disclaimer: I am in no way affiliated to any of the schools.
The school is located on rue St Joseph, next to Poutineville.
First day! Arrived at 7,45am for registration. There were a few other students, 2 of them who came from Colombia, 1 from Sweden and 1 from Switzerland! We were given a brief tour of the school and told what level we were at.
I had classes from 9 am to 4:35 pm from Monday to Thursday with a break from 12 to 12:50pm. On Friday, classes end at 12nn.
9 – 12 class:
The 9 am to 12 nn class worked on 4 competencies like you would expect in a regular language class. We worked on grammar, vocabulary, listening and all. As the school ran out of copies of Alter Ego 4 to loan me (and me not wanting to buy a copy as I was only there for a week), it was an inconvenience on my side not having a textbook. But we also weren’t using the textbook 100% of the time. If anything, my personal opinion is Alliance Francaise does a better job of teaching the material from Alter Ego.
12:50 to 2.05 class:
Mainly worked on the conversational aspects in this class. We would discuss about certain topics and be asked what our opinions were. The goal of it was to get you be able discuss your opinions.
2:05 to 3:20 class:
I don’t really know the purpose of this class. This week the class centred on a theme about Quebec’s folklore as St. Jean-Baptiste day was coming up on Monday! We listened to stories such as La corriveau, La dame Blanche de Montmorency, La chasse-galerie, etc. It was interesting to see the presence of religious elements such as God and priests in these Québecois stories.
3:20 to 4:35 class:
This was a much smaller class where our teacher asked what areas we want to work on. I wanted to improve my workplace vocabulary so I suggested that.
Overall, for the amount of time I was there, I enjoyed it even if it was less intensive as I had expected. There were activities and you never truly feel like you are learning or in class for the whole day. I did not participate in the excursions organized by the school as they were held in the afternoon. My french did improve a little bit, I was more comfortable in having a conversation. What was more important was most people whom I met, who were there were truly passionate about learning French. Some want to teach French, as for me, I just want to be able to speak fluently some day.
I don’t regret what I did and to me, experiences are very important. 50 years down the road, I would like to look back at my life and be like “I have no regrets whatsoever”. Even if I didn’t like it, then it was an experience to know I didn’t like it and I would have discovered myself in the process.
If you are also reading this and learning french, please share your experience with me!
Perhaps next time, I will try doing a 2 week immersion in France!
Ending my post with a nice scenery of Quebec City!