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Study French in Paris at L’Atelier 9

In November of 2005 I attended a small language school in Paris for two weeks. L’Atelier 9 is located in the 9th arrondisement on a quiet street of small shops and offices. I researched many schools, but most required a month-long stay, were too expensive, or were designed more for college-age students. I wanted to study French in a serious atmosphere but also for pleasure and to spend time in Paris. Classes in the morning and then a chance in the afternoon to digest and use what I had learned seemed right to me. A friend brought me a copy of FUSAC (www.fusac.fr) from her visit to Paris in March 2005 and that’s where I first learned of L’Atelier 9. Their website, www.latelier9.com, is interactive and offers quick access to testimonials from students worldwide. During the next several weeks I emailed them often to ask questions about the instructors and experience of students, etc. Ignacio, one of the founders and owners of L’Atelier 9, always answered my questions quickly. I was impressed with his promptness, enthusiasm, and courtesy.

L’Atelier 9 is located in a converted second story apartment with a kitchen, two toilets, a common room, a small office, and several classrooms. I was in the most advanced group with four to seven other students, depending on the day. Our instructor was Eric, the other owner. There was no text but every day we worked through a series of in-house exercise worksheets. Although the emphasis was on grammar, each of us spoke frequently in class and our pronunciation was always corrected. It was obvious that Eric had been teaching for several years, and he was both clever and knowledgeable as he helped us learn new vocabulary and grammar points. During the second week I scheduled a 1-hour private lesson for pronunciation. The cost was €45, which was high compared to the regular classes but fair since it was one on one.

The other 20 students were from England, Denmark, the Netherlands, Mexico, Germany, and Canada, and ranged in age from 19 to 63. Some students who were living in Paris had been attending for several months. Classes were from 9:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. with a 30-minute break midway. During this break we chatted among ourselves, almost exclusively in English since that was the most common language. A computer was available before and after classes, so we took turns checking email and using the Internet. The school scheduled at least one social event each week, such as a movie, a guided tour, an evening meal, or a picnic. Coffee and tea were available throughout the day, and we were free to bring in snacks and use the kitchen facilities. Some of us found the welcoming atmosphere a congenial place to spend part of the afternoon.

For me, L’Atelier 9 was a very positive experience, and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a relaxed, yet professional atmosphere. Some students, especially those seeking college credit, would better profit from a more formal classroom, but for my purposes my time and euros were well spent.

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