Picture yourself enjoying fresh pastries beside a beautiful fountain.
The old streets are lined with tents selling macarons, jewelry and homemade jams. You know just how to negotiate prices with the vendors in French.
It’s not a dream.
It’s your future life in Lille, France.
Lille is an incredible city with some fantastic options for focused French learning.
Here are our five favorite programs, from university courses to local language schools, for all types of French learners to have the trip of a lifetime in Lille.
Why Learn French in Lille?
Studying abroad is a magical experience that exposes you to language in a unique and meaningful way. You use your language skills firsthand each day while getting to know the beautiful culture around you.
If you’re looking for a way to go overseas and embrace a full French immersion lifestyle, Lille is a great place to begin your journey.
For starters, Lille is the capital of France’s Hauts-de-France region. You’ll have all of the perks of living in a metropolis but with slightly lower prices than you’d find in gorgeous Paris. Besides, you can still visit the city of love whenever you want as it’s only an hour away from Lille by train!
If you’re really looking to explore as many places as possible during your time in France, Lille is situated just a stone’s throw from Belgium, so you can certainly get to know that beautiful French-speaking country as well.
Aside from the great French language programs offered in the city, Lille has tons of museums, historical sites, theaters and restaurants to explore.
Plus, being a Flemish city, Lille’s culture, history and architecture are quite unique and different from the rest of France. Their history and the fact that they have a couple of big universities with large foreign student populations make Lille a truly multicultural place.
Learn French in Lovely Lille! Top 5 Language Programs (Flexible to Intensive)
If you do decide to go to Lille, you’ll need to get a jumpstart on enrolling in a language program. Below, you’ll find the top five language courses in the city and a breakdown of their information so you can compare and find the right fit for you!
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This program offers many different courses but is particularly attractive for students who are looking for a course adapted to their specific needs, as much of the curriculum’s goals are chosen by the student.
They offer many courses—particularly in business and marketing—outside of languages, so don’t get bogged down by trying to read through all of their site information. Instead, download their course catalog and skip to the language section (pages 63 to 71).
The fact that you can work with the center to adapt your course hours, number of weeks and the specific vocabulary and language goals you want covered is a huge plus. Additionally, the center offers a free placement test to evaluate your current French level.
Finally, they offer a certified language exam at the end of your course to show future employers or the French government (if you’re trying to receive a specific visa, for example) your French skills.
Centre de Pratique de Langues Etrangères offers a number of different courses which specialize in full immersion, group learning and specific topics like business or practical goals (speaking on the phone, going to the doctor, etc.).
Courses can be anywhere from a mere two hours per week to an intensive 40 hours per week.
Unfortunately, there are no prices listed in their catalog. Instead it instructs prospective students to contact the center with their needs and objectives. You’ll hear back with a quote.
It appears that accommodation is mostly up to the student to find. However, the intensive 40 hours per week course includes lodging with a French family, which the center will take care of for you.
Some of the courses offer cultural activities and workshops such as learning through games, conversation groups, outings to restaurants, etc.
This program offers a wide variety of courses and culture classes and is particularly good for students who want a shorter stay in Lille or who aren’t sure how long they’ll be staying and would like flexibility.
Lil’Langues charges by the week, with the minimum commitment of just one week, so you’re really free to change your overseas plans as you wish.
They also have a space in the building for students to meet and practice French when outside of class, a nice perk.
Their course options range from complete beginner to upper advanced levels.
You can choose from intensive classes (21 hours per week) or extensive classes (15 hours per week). They also offer workshop courses in writing and conversation. You can opt for a combined class which mixes workshops, one-on-one lessons and group learning.
There are also classes specifically for preparing for the DELF and DALF French exams.
Prices vary by course. You can see all pricing options here.
Students can find their own accommodation or ask for Lil’Langues to arrange for them to stay with a French family. The latter is a great option for those looking for an even more immersive stay but will cost an additional €130 per week.
The language program offers many interesting cultural activities such as cooking workshops, city tours, game nights and dinners with French families.
Université Catholique de Lille is a good choice for those looking to spend a summer in France. You can even earn college credits that are transferable to other universities.
The summer program is held in four-week sessions with very flexible course options. You’ll mix and match electives (offered in both French and English) from subjects including the arts, business, European and international law, science, engineering or simply general French.
The university also has semester-long classes that include oral practice, intensive courses, French civilization courses and training for French exams. Reach out here for more information.
Tuition for the summer course is $2,950. Lodging, meals, transportation passes and extra activities are all included in the program package.
The activities offered depend on which program you’ve selected and can be anything from studies and corresponding activities in cinema, museums, business or science.
Alliance Française de Lille is a flexible option, with six- to eight-week courses. It’s also the cheapest option.
Just because it’s cheaper doesn’t mean you’ll lose quality, as the Alliance Française is one of the most renowned language institutions with centers all over the world. Their exams and certificates are considered valid by just about all international companies and governments, a great perk if you need proof of your French level.
They offer courses for all levels from complete beginner to upper advanced, exam preparation classes and professional/business options. Courses range from two hours per week to just over seven hours per week.
As mentioned above, classes run in six- to eight-week chunks and are available most of the year.
One of the great bonus options is the ability to add on either a short phonetics class (for all levels) or grammar class (for intermediate and upper levels) for just €15 and €25 extra respectively each week.
Full course options and details are listed in their downloadable pamphlet.
Pricing is a great deal at just €22 to €81 per week (though keep in mind that the higher pricing at some of the other listed institutions includes more hours of weekly instruction).
Students are responsible for finding their own accommodation.
While their website does mention that cultural activities are offered outside of class time, it doesn’t provide examples of what those activities include.
Université de Lille is a good choice for the really serious French student who’s ready to invest a decent amount of time and money into the courses—for example, students who’d either like to earn a degree in French or travel with an ERASMUS program.
In order to take classes at the university, you must be enrolled as a student (even if you don’t intend to complete all the semesters and credits required to get your diploma) or be part of a language exchange program.
Through these French courses you’ll be working towards le Diplôme Universitaire d’Etudes Françaises (The University Diploma in French Studies), whether you wish to see the exam through or not.
You’ll have 15 hours of French classes each week.
Tuition is about 1,400€ per semester (which isn’t so bad compared to many university prices in other parts of the world such as the U.S. and Britain).
Like at most universities, students are given the option to live on or off campus.
Now that you’re ready to choose your ideal program to learn French in Lille, you can start dreaming of French markets, pastries and museums.
Camille Turner is an experienced freelance writer and ESL teacher.
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