I am a very busy person but I desire to learn and speak French – this is my dream.
Does this sentence sound familiar to you? Before even starting a course, it is important
for you to know if an intensive or a long term course will finally help you reach your
goals in French. In this article, I’ll share my experience as a language learner in order to
help you make decision on which one will suit you better. Intensive and long-term
courses are both amazing and with the two of them, you’ll enjoy beautiful results.
My experience with intensive class
I have taken several intensive courses and the last one I took was 4 years ago when I
studied Hebrew. Yes, Hebrew! Am I Jewish? No! Is my husband Jewish? Neither! I
wanted to challenge myself as an adult and study a beautiful and challenging language.
I studied Arabic in 2007 and I thought Hebrew would be very interesting. I found myself
in a classroom of the Tel Aviv University for 6 weeks. The crowd in the group class was
very diverse. Among the crowd were teenage boys who understood everything in no
time and a retired French man who was believed to know everything in life. Surprising,
huh? . The crowd of the course and the challenge of catching up with the younger
people were absolutely amazing.
What I like the most about the intensive course:
● The rhythm is stimulating and challenging
● Results are faster and
● You will reach the next level within a short period of time.
What are the negative aspects of the intensive course?
● It goes too fast and you may not have time to catch up. This happened to me in
Tel Aviv; I ended up studying the whole afternoon and didn’t enjoy the city as
much as I wanted.
● You may end up a bit fed up with the language.
● You have to block 4 or 5 weeks just for the course.
● Sometimes, not always, you have to hang out with people you don’t get along
with very well for 4 or 5 weeks. It can be very long.
My experience with long term training
As I can’t take 5 weeks break every year to learn a language anymore, I’ve also
experienced long-term/ slow pace course. At 33, I decided to accomplish my dream to
go to Brazil for a month. Before going there, I checked different options to learn
Portuguese. I, of course, wanted to attend an intensive course but couldn't find the time
for it. As a private French teacher myself with a crazy schedule, the only possibility for
me to learn Portuguese with good results was with a private tutor. There are many
websites out there to find private teachers but the best place to find private teacher, in
my opinion, is by far Instagram! I was exploring some great account to learn Brazilian
Portuguese when I discovered Virginia.
I knew private classes and long term placement would be the most adapted option to
my lifestyle. We started in August and in late December I was on the plane heading to
Brazil for 5 weeks.
Which one of the classes (intensive or long term) is more
suitable to your needs?
The main difficulty adults experience is the ability to think about what’s more convenient
for their needs and purposes. You have to choose for yourself, not for your partner or
your job but only you. Learning French is not an immediate process. Unfortunately, you
can’t go on Amazon and buy your French classes and receive them within two days.
Even if you buy a textbook, you’ll still need time to process it.
The main questions to ask yourself if you need a short or long term training are as
● Do I need to speak French urgently? If yes, why? What is the emergency?
● How can I commit to this project? Am I able to attend a course on a weekly basis
for a few months?
● Do I want to compress my time and study it for a few weeks in a row?
● Do I want to implement a routine?
As I mentioned earlier in this article, in both cases (intensive course and long term
course), the results are there.
Based on my experience and my life today, I would rather choose a private course once
What is my opinion about it?
What do I recommend?
If you have the opportunity to attend an intensive course, go for it. I highly recommend it
for beginner and false beginner level especially group intensive courses. The group
effect will challenge your learning and it can be a good catalyst to help you get the
basics. Once you reach a nice level, don't forget to continue to practice with locals,
listen to podcasts or read. If you can't practice on your own, go and find some private
French teachers and take at least one class every two weeks to keep your progress.
On the other hand, if you would like an intensive course with a private French teacher, I
don’t recommend attending classes longer than 3 hours on a daily basis. It will be too
much for you, your teacher and more importantly your brain.
If you can't attend an intensive course for whatsoever reasons (the list is too long to
mention them), I recommend you to attend a long-term placement course. In long-term
placement course, you attend a course once or twice a week for at least 6 months.
Results will be slower, obviously, but I guarantee 1000% that if you attend a once in a
week class regularly, within a month, you will already appreciate the results. Private
courses are easier to squeeze in your schedule and healthier in terms of pressure and
stress to reach results as you learn and study at your own path.
Of course, if you think that only attending or paying for classes without re-read and work
a little on your own will give you results, you'd better not even start learning French.
I hope I’ve helped you in finding the right pace for your learning. If you already speak
French and you would like to make part of an amazing community of French learner,
come and join my Facebook group for intermediate and advanced students.