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Study in France: Finding a Program For Your Language Level

January 23, 2017

France is a very attractive place for study abroad students - it’s centrally located in Europe, making traveling a breeze. It’s famous for its unique culture and history, and its geographic landscape is nothing short of stunning.

If your French language level is preventing you from studying in France, don’t let it! There are many programs catered to all levels. As the ISEP Program Officer for France, I can give you the low-down on many programs for various levels.

Defining your language level

Let’s start with some language level jargon that we use when placing students at the right site. We rate students on a scale of A1 (beginner) to C2 (advanced). It’s important to understand your level when applying for sites. Here is how we break it down at ISEP:

A1: Beginner - You’ve had little to no French experience. Perhaps you know your greetings and how to order a ‘pain-au-chocolat.’ Maybe one semester of French.
A2: Beginner to Intermediate - You can cover the basics. Two to three semesters of French.
B1: Intermediate - You feel comfortable navigating daily life and taking a couple classes in French. Three to five semesters of French (or high school French plus two university semesters).
B2: Intermediate to Advanced - You feel comfortable taking regular university courses alongside French students with a little support on the side. Four to five semesters of French (or high school French plus three to four college semesters)
C1: Advanced - You’re completely ready to navigate courses in French! You’re basically fluent, but could use a little practice. Five or more semesters of French and maybe have lived or studied in France before.
C2: You are completely fluent! Enroll alongside French students - you’re ready to navigate life with the locals.

Remember: these are meant to serve as guidelines. Don’t let your level discourage you from applying to a program. If you have questions about your level and eligibility for a program, just ask.

Types of programs

1. Language & Culture Program (language level: A1 – C2)
The Language & Culture Program is catered towards non-native French speakers. These programs can be designed for students of all language levels (A1-C2), but are perfect for those lower level French speakers (A1-B2).
2. Study in English and improve your French (language level: A1-C2)
Many ISEP programs in France have great courses offerings in English! Students are able to take French language courses mixed in and practice their French while navigating daily life. Check out the Top Site Planner to learn which sites offer which fields of study in English. These programs can even be available to students with little to no French language background, as a 'Survival French’ course may be offered alongside a full course load in English. Read more about this option.
3. Take regular university courses in French (language level: B1/B2+)
All ISEP sites in France allow students to take regular university courses alongside French students. Language level requirements will vary (see below) and so will the fields of study offered. Many sites are known for specific fields.

Universities by program type

Option 1: Language & Culture Program (language level A1-C2)

Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (ISEP Direct)
Université Savoie Mont Blanc (ISEP Direct and ISEP Exchange)
Aix-Marseille Université
Université de Caen
Université de Nantes
Université Jean Monnet de Saint-Etienne (fall semester only)

Option 2: Study in English and improve your French (language level: A1-C2)

To see a list of the universities that offer course offerings in English, please see the ISEP France Top Site Planner. Look under the heading 'Offerings in English.’
Study In English

Option 3: Take regular university courses in French (language level: B1/B2+)
You can also use the Top Site Planner to find your field of study in French. Keep in mind, some sites require higher language levels than others. To view sites by language level, see below.

Universities by Language Level

A1
Université Savoie Mont Blanc (ISEP Direct and ISEP Exchange)
Université de Caen
IEP-Rennes – Sciences Po English Program
All ISEP France Universities that offer programs in English may allow students with little to no French background. See above for program offerings in English or contact me for more information.

A2
Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (ISEP Direct)
Université Savoie Mont Blanc (ISEP Direct and ISEP Exchange)
Aix-Marseille Université
Université de Caen
Université de Nantes
Université Jean Monnet de Saint-Etienne (fall semester only)

B1/B2+
Université Paul Valéry Montpellier 3 (ISEP Direct and ISEP Exchange)
Université Savoie Mont Blanc (ISEP Direct and ISEP Exchange)
Aix-Marseille Université
Université de Caen
Université de Nantes
Université Jean Monnet de Saint-Etienne*
Université de Picardie Jules Verne
Université Charles de Gaulle (Lille III)
Université Grenoble Alpes
Université de la Réunion
Université du Maine
Université du Havre*
Université d’Angers

B2/C1+ INSA Lyon
Université de Nice*
Université des Antilles
Université de Franche-Comté
*Language level required may vary depending on the type of program requested.

If you have questions about studying in France, feel free to reach out to me via email or Facebook!

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