Yes, folks, it is possible! I have been going to free French classes for the past few months and it hasn’t cost me a single cent. More than that, my French school has given me the opportunity to meet so many friends and explore the region.
Naturally, there are a ton of expensive year-long programs in Nice to learn French. Mostly dissuaded by the price factor and the long bus ride everyday, I wanted to search for something closer to home. All it took was one stop at the city hall and I was given the name of an organization just down the street. This organization, I.S.I, is a jack of many trades. They help foreigners navigate the French bureaucracy. They provide classes to help young adults find jobs. And of course, they have French lessons!
Since it IS free and government funded, you can’t expect the school to be perfect. For example, the region decided that all students must be in one large class together. That means there are those who don’t speak a word of French in with those who are rather advanced. It definitely makes things hard on both the students and the teachers, but c’est comme ça.
In May, I signed up and have been going to French lessons Wednesday through Friday. For free. We work on all of the stuff you would expect; we learn grammar, pronunciation and about French culture, government and daily life. And we also have a lot of fun. So far, we have had one amazing picnic lunch. Everyone made something from their home country. (I made carrot cake!) Also, we organized a day in the mountains nearby.
The teachers and the “student body” are great. The teachers have the hard job of keeping track of what level the students are at, what they need to work on, what they’ve already done, etc. With so many students at so many different levels, it’s amazing they are still sane! As for the students, we have 4 continents represented-and each person has an amazing story behind them. It was really at school that I started making friends who live in the area. Better late than never, I say. When it comes time for me to leave in November, it will be really hard to part ways with them. I’ve met some of the funniest, nicest and most giving people while there.
Yes, it is totally possible to learn French for free. There are organizations all around the country like I.S.I that help foreigners acclimate to life in France. It seemed to me like you don’t even have to permanently settle in France to take advantage of their services. A bit of research and voilà, you are speaking French!