Choosing an FSL (French as a Second Language) program in British Columbia means researching a number of options. Whether you are coming to British Columbia in order to learn French for fun or for helping you advance the rest of your studies, the right program makes all the difference. The following list provides advice on things to keep in mind so that you can compare FSL programs offered in British Columbia.
Some FSL programs focus on grammar and writing, others on literature and Francophone culture, and still others on basic daily conversation skills. Some FSL programs are designed for students with existing French-language skills, and others are designed for those who have never spoken French before. Make sure that the FSL program you choose is suited to your current level of French language skill and also gives you room to progress.
The FSL program you choose should meet the standards set by a language training accreditation agency. The program should also be a member of a professional society or association, to ensure that there is ongoing monitoring of quality. See our section on Accreditation of FSL Programs in British Columbia for more details.
Find out if the instructors in the FSL program are native French speakers and whether they full-time professional instructors. Other than your own hard work, your teacher is the biggest influence on how much you learn, how well, and how quickly, so it's a good idea to ask about their training and previous work experience.
Make sure the school offering the programs has the necessary facilities, such as language labs, video and audio equipment, computers with Internet access and interactive learning programs, etc. Other aspects to look for include conversation clubs, cultural activities or other opportunities to practice your French outside the classroom.
Housing options for international students include residences and dormitories, homestay and off-campus apartments. These will differ depending on the kind of school it is offered by (an independent language school or part of a university or college).
Housing options also affect the cost to you, so be sure to find out what's available.
FSL programs are available in different regions of the province, which gives you a range of locations to choose from. You might want to study in a large city, or in a smaller town where you get to know more people. You might want to try and find a Francophone community, or you might feel more comfortable studying French while living in an English environment. Be sure to also consider the climate and likely weather of the area where the program is located, as well as how much travel you wish to do and the cost of living.
The more personalized instruction and attention you get, the better you will absorb a new language. Consider the size of the campus, the number of international students at the institution, class size and teacher to student ratio.
Know what you want. Some FSL program lead to a credential (diploma, certificate), others to a career track, academic transfer, single skill or overall skill improvement, etc.
Choosing an FSL program in British Columbia gives international students a whole new set of opportunities for education, work and life.