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French Language Training


We are starting to do more and more work with French clients and while we do employ French speakers specifically for the account we also want to help some of our senior associates improve their language skill. Most are at GCSE/O'Level/Holiday French and most meetings are in English. But they need to be able to, at the very least, follow a conversation and ask their way around the office. Any advice would be most gratefully accepted!
Annah Ross

6 Responses

  1. Similiar Need
    Although I do not have an answer to your question but I would be interested in finding out more about this.

  2. French Groups
    We used to carry out a lot of language training. The first thing you need to do is assess those staff who are going to do language training. It is very expensive for them to have 1-2-1 lessons and we tended to put them in small groups of 3-4 where they bounced off and motivated each other. All new students were assessed and put in groups dependent upon current leve. We hired a language tutor (french native). If you are going to go through a school, ask them how they measure improvement (aimless learning is pointless) and set clear objectives. We then carried out 6 monthly exams through the London Chamber of Commerce and Industry to evaluate improvement. You also have to have a strict policy with regards to last minute cancellation or no show, if they need to learn quickly, they can attend week-long intensive courses in France which are really good for improving language levels quickly (we used a company called Campus). Hope that helps.

  3. Thanks – do you have contact details?
    Vivienne, many thanks, this is very helpful.

    Do you have a contact at Campus and at London Chamber of Commerce and Industry or a telephone number?


  4. My Findings
    I thought I would summarise my findings for any of you who are interested. We are probably going to use a mixture of all of these.

    1) Formalise Training Plans – The training needs to have a formal training plan (even if it’s informal training) with clear objectives, outcomes and review dates and with a clear policy on cancellations etc.

    2) Resources – Get in magazines, books, newspapers, vocabulary lists etc to support the team
    Informal Group Sessions –

    3) Have weekly group ‘French sessions’ to review the magazines etc and preferably with a French speaker – perhaps over coffee or lunch and discussion held in French

    4) CD Rom – This is only going to get learners up to basic level of French but will help improve confidence and ability in being understood (but probably not in understanding ). The next step is to practice and practice . Various courses exist, but I recommend French With Michel Thomas Complete Course CD – This needs to be facilitated properly, with a learning plan etc – 1-2 hour sessions, 2-3 times a week, meeting room officially booked and time to concentrate on the course

    5) Evening Classes – Various adult education options depending on location . Usually require you to start at beginning of year (Sep).

    6) Weekly Classes – Several companies do various versions of this, 1-2-1 or small group weekly sessions or intense 2-5 day classes, (e.g. French & Business Language Courses, and BSL Interlanguas ) . Most recommend 40-60 hours required to go from GCSE to Social Conversational level at two 2-4 hour sessions a week for 2+ months at a cost of around £35 an hour per person. Ask the school how they measure improvement (aimless learning is pointless) and set clear objectives.

    7) Intense Classes in France – Several companies run long weekend classes to teach business people French – e.g. words and ways at

    8) Exams – London Chamber of Commerce and Industry run exams which you can use to check progress

    9) French School Teachers – haven’t found the website address yet, but there is one advertising teachers who do out of school coaching for all subjects.

    Thanks for everyone’s input

  5. French on the Internet
    We were asked to source both French & German language training for staff. We used CD Rom based facility to provide immediate assistance. We found them via the Internet where there are a number of providers e.g. Amazon

  6. Do it early
    Based on past experience, I do believe that initiatives to get both sides using each other’s language must be done early, before attitudes have hardened.

    It’s also important to get the English speakers accustomed to using French with actual colleagues — not just classroom teachers in a classroom setting.

    If I had to handle the situation I faced again, I think I might do as some international schools do and switch languages based on the day of the week or some similar basis. That would give people who feel foolish using a foreign language a reason to overcome their shyness.

    There also needs to be training on the part of the French speakers to not dismiss English speakers’ attempts at French. It’s too easy for people not used to using a foreign language to become gun shy if they’re laughed at.


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