This week we did a meeting with Maksim, one of our former students who followed our online group classes and also did some private lessons.
1) Maksim, you are from Russia but you live in France. Did you came for work, for pleasure…?
I came to France for studying. I was granted a scholarship to do a master at Université Jean Monnet in Saint-Étienne and I moved there. It was 5 years ago. I‘ve been living in France since then.
2) When and why did you start learning French ?
I had my first French course in Russia one month before moving to France. It was an intensive course for complete beginners, but it helped me a lot afterwards. My master program was fully in English. Few French phrases that I knew that time were more than enough for everyday situations, for others I always had somebody nearby to assist me with translation. Anyway, we had 2 semesters of French in our curriculum. That time I didn’t know for sure if I stay in France after my graduation or go somewhere else. At the same time, my studies were not easy ones, so I didn’t make a lot of effort to learn French to be honest. After my graduation, I decided to do PhD, also in France, and I moved to Caen in Normandy. I had another 2 semesters of French classes at our university. They were not really well organised. That time they had just two levels: for those who are learning and those who wish to practice the language. I was assigned to the first group. There were no clear program, neither book or platform and no homework. In addition, teachers didn’t speak any other language than French (what is a serious obstacle for beginners in my opinion). For some students it was still useful though, but not for me. After repeating the course in the same group with the same teacher, I didn’t see much of progress and I gave up.
3) You started you online group course in August last year, how did you heard about us ?
When it became clear that I want to stay in France after graduation, I started to look for possibilities to learn the language. I discovered number of private schools with a good reputation. They had everything I needed: separate levels, fixed program, motivated stuff and students. Ifalpes was just one of them. Last summer, when I finished writing my thesis I planned to make a holiday. I had already visited Annecy several times before when I was living in Saint-Étienne. I like this place, it’s so peaceful and recharging. Initially, it was like a project to go to Annecy for a short period, to have a vacation and to learn the language in parallel. However, there were number of limitations due to epidemic. Luckily, I found out about the e-learning platform and possibility to learn French in a virtual class online.
4) Why did you need to do some course ? For yourself, for work… ?
I just wanted to improve my quality of life. I wanted to be independent when I need, for example, to solve some administrative issues. Also, it is hard to find English speaking friends when you live in a small town like Caen. On the job market the situation is similar, the majority of positions are in French only. Finally, I want to get European driving licence. I think this is a skill I miss the most while living in France.
5) Have you ever done online lessons before Ifalpes?
Yes, and it didn’t work for me. In my field, Computer science, this type of learning became popular way before the story with covid. I tried to do some courses for my studies, but I always had a problem to force myself to keep doing it. I’m a type of person who needs someone expecting him being present or waiting his work to be done on time.
6) Ok, so the format of our group lessons is perfect for you then 😊 What is your feeling regarding the group course by the way ? The atmosphere is nice ? It’s easy to follow ?
It was easy to follow for sure, because there were no pressure, no punishment, no obligatory evaluation. In addition, when you do the course 3 hours a day 5 days a week the homework becomes not important too. So, the stress was minimized. I liked the atmosphere as well. It reminded me real lessons in a classroom. The teacher was always present at time, but we were late sometimes. It was the morning group, so for some people it was not easy to get up. We used that time to exchange our news, to discuss recent updates with regards the epidemic situation in the country. It indeed helped to wake up, and at the same time, it was a warm up for our lesson. I really miss it in my mornings now. What I definitely like is the exercises we prepared in smaller groups in separate chat rooms before presenting them to the class. When we had some extra time, we used it to chat with our teammates. It gave me the feeling of being present in a real school in person. The only thing missing in my opinion is some short time without the teacher during the break or after the class where we could just get to know each other better. Because when you do this course for such a long time with same group of people, they become more than just your classmates. It would allow making new friends more easily as I think.
7) You asked for private lessons also, was it because you wanted to improve something specific ?
There were no group classes during the Christmas break and I didn’t want to stop learning. At the same time, I started my preparation for the DELF B1 exam in the private lessons. At the beginning, I felt a bit nervous because I had never took private lessons before. In addition, I always thought that they are a bit overpriced. In spite of that, everything went smooth. The teacher was professional. She pointed out to some specific mistakes I was doing repeatedly and helped me out to fix it. Our lessons were short, but she was available by email at any time whenever I had a question. In addition, I received a lot of homework and the teacher was spending her time out of the lessons to make the corrections. So, it was more than worth it. By the way, I passed my exam two weeks ago. I received 77/100 as an overall score, so I’m very satisfied with the result!