Learn French

French classes : Pros and cons of learning French with a group versus private classes

By Wednesday September 26th, 2018 No Comments

Learning French or any other language involves research, and ultimately choosing the best program for you. So the question is: Do you take your French class with a group, or are you more suited to private classes?

While searching for your courses on Google, you will probably realise that there are so many options for French classes, and it is scary! It can stress you out even before you start learning French. And yes, I hear you, it is already hard enough to finally commit to learning a new language, so why then, is choosing where and how to learn, so stressful too? What if I choose the wrong course? What if I pay too much? What if, for that amount of money and time, I still can’t speak French? What if I already paid and I don’t like the teacher or their methodology? Don’t panic!

I remember when I wanted to learn Spanish, I was 20 and would never have considered private classes. I wanted to learn Spanish and meet people, so group session was by far the best option for me. Today I am 33 and I plan to go to Brazil in January for a month. Before my trip, I am taking some Portuguese lessons. My life has slightly changed since the time I was studying Spanish: I became – unfortunately – more responsible. Taking into consideration my work and social life; my opinion about private classes has drastically changed. There is no way I can attend a group class to learn Portuguese mainly because of the lack of schedule and location flexibility. I decided to choose a Portuguese course online with a Brazilian teacher (Coucou Virginia) based in New York that I found on… Instagram – But that’s another story. 😉 and I love it!

Here I will identify the pros and cons of private and group French classes. I myself, have tried both options.

French classes with a group

Pros

  • This is by far the best way to make connections and make friends.
  • Learn French with people from different backgrounds and from all over the world
  • You share doubts, thoughts and experience about learning French. Mistakes, victories and questions of other members can push and encourage your learning. It feels so great to be encouraged by a team spirit.
  • French language schools and language academies mostly hire qualified teachers with experience, so you can be pretty sure of the high quality of the trainer. The recruitment is in general strict and requires experience and diplomas.
  • Some schools have their own books and well structured material which is a great support
  • Group sessions with a fixed schedule are ideal to establish a routine in your studies and also in your life. This will obviously depend on your personality. Some people like and need it to progress, others hate it and avoid it as much as they can
  • There aren’t any stupid questions while learning French, and the questions of other students in your group can be added value for you and your learning.

Cons

  • Group sessions are not very flexible in terms of location and schedule. For busy professionals and or parents, for example, it can quickly turn out to be a nightmare and stressful to attend.
  • Unfortunately the variety of background in a group can become an inconvenience, especially regarding the speed of learning. Not everyone learns the same way and at the same path. You can struggle to understand and memorise while other seems to have zero difficulties. It can provoke frustration and decrease your motivation. The situation the other way around, where you feel that the content of the class is too easy for you can also lead to frustration.
  • During a group class, unless you are in a group of maximum 5 people, it is very difficult to really improve your speaking and listening skills. Opportunities are more rare and for some big groups, completely nonexistent. As a result, you might know the grammar very well but you are not comfortable to speak at all.
  • Difficult to reach a very high level. Once you reach the level intermediate, you might feel that you no longer progress.

Private French classes

Pros

  • You are the only actor in your class. The content is adapted to your needs and expectations. Your progress depends only on your own work.
  • Private French classes are very flexible in terms of schedule and location. Enjoy a class whenever you are available.
  • You enjoy a faster progress with a private teacher. You learn three times faster than in a group session.
    Individual classes can be more conversation oriented. As you don’t have to share the time of speaking with other students, you can be as talkative as you want. A good teacher speaks maximum 30% of the time, which means that you have plenty of time to express yourself in French.
  • It helps to increase and build up self-confidence. You have the opportunity to examine in depth your weaknesses and to work on them and make them disappear. It will help you to be sure about yourself.
  • Ideal for short term purpose such as pitching your business or to prepare a job interview
  • Amazing to implement a routine, as for the group classes, the private classes can also be a routine, especially if you would like to have your class at a fixed time.
  • You can reach an advanced level and go deeper into the details of your studies of the French language.

Cons

  • One of the challenges, is to choose the right teacher. How can you make sure your teacher is qualified enough to help you. There are many natives people out there with zero experience and qualification who pretend to be French teacher. Unfortunately, it darkens the work of the real professionals. Like in any other industry such as taxi drivers. I will recommend you to ask for references and CV. (Linkedin is probably the most trustful tool in terms of credibility about teachers).
  • You don’t meet new people. As you are alone with your private teacher, it will be difficult to make new connections and friends.

For some people, it is very easy to choose to learn French with a group or in private classes. For others, it’s not so easy. In both cases, it is an important investment so don’t be cheap with your education! What you will learn will last forever. If you are not sure, ask for an introduction meeting or paid trial sessions to evaluate how you feel with the options.

And you? How did you learn another language? Do you prefer French classes in private or with a group?