Category Archives: Language Acquisition

Learn French in Montpellier!

This student city in the South of France is one of the country’s best kept secrets. One of the few in the sunny South without a Roman or Greek foundation, Montpellier is the 8th largest city in France and the fastest growing over the past 25 years. Home to the University of Montpellier, one of the oldest in the world, the metropolis also boasts a handful of Grands-Écoles in science and business.

Water Tower, Promenade du Peyrou,

Water Tower, Promenade du Peyrou,

Last summer my husband and I vacationed here while attending a wedding and visiting family. We loved walking through the lively medieval streets and finding all kinds of little independent restaurants and bars. There may be a lot of students here, but you won’t be hearing English everywhere like you do in Paris. In Montpellier, most people are French, European or North African.

Les Trois Graces,

The central area of the city, Place de la Comédie, dates back to 1755. Here you will find la sculpture des Trois Grâces created by Etienne d’Antoine in 1790. This is a great people-watching or meeting place. If you enjoy art, the musée Fabre hosts a vast array of European paintings from the 15th century through the 20th, and also includes sculptures and ceramics.

Place de la Comedie,

Place de la Comedie,

If nature is your pleasure, visit the Botanical Gardens, one of the oldest in Europe, created by Henri IV in 1593. If you prefer the beach, you can take a bus to enjoy the warm Mediterranean waters at Carnon Plage, Palavas les Flots or La Grande Motte.

A great way to discover all of this is to come here as a student in a French language program. No matter your age, Montpellier is home to 16 language schools which accommodate all levels and learning styles. Maybe it’s the weather or the laid-back atmosphere, but 15,000 people come to study French here every year! The language schools work in conjunction with the Montpellier Office de Tourisme in order to help visitors and students alike enjoy their stay. Here is a special clip about this:

TV5 Destination Francophonie: Montpellier

Below you will find links to some of the top rated schools as well as a break-down comparison of costs and offerings:

Ecole Klesse

Institut Européen de Français:

LSF Learn French Montpellier

Comparison of Montpellier French Language Schools:

As a former study abroad student myself (I studied in la ville rose, Toulouse, another gem in the South of France) I can’t recommend the experience enough. What better way to dive into the language and culture than to stay in the country itself?

Et vous, where did you study abroad or learn French?

Montpellier Danse!

Montpellier Danse!

© Jessica’s Franglais 2015

Indila: The New Face of French Pop Music?

After class one day, a student shared a music video with me of a doe-eyed, ethnically mysterious young woman singing her heart out as she stumbles through Paris in a jean jacket and a little white dress, hurting and lost. I was struck at once by her mellifluous voice, the catchiness of the music and the stunning panoramic views of La Ville Lumière (The City of Light). I thanked the girl and wondered to myself: who is this charming chanteuse?

Wikipedia tells us that thirty year old Indila, born Adila Sedraïa, was born in Paris and is of Cambodian, Indian, Algerian and Egyptian decent. She has collaborated with French pop, rap and R&B artists such as Soprano, Patrick Bruel and Youssoupha among others. Indila is also married to songwriter and producer DJ Scalpovitch.

As it turns out, I’m a little late to the party. Europe already loves her! In 2014, she was voted best French artist by MTV Europe Music awards and also nominated for best European artist. In 2015, her album Mini World won album of the year and her song “Dernière Danse,” whose video I watched with my student was nominated for best music video by Victoires de la Musique (in France). This song was also nominated for best francophone song of the year in 2014 by NRJ Music awards. Pas mal!



I have taught the lyrics and shown the music video to my students in French 1 and French 2 and they absolutely adore it. Some of them even sing, and one has offered to record an a capella version of it to play for the class. Music is a great way to get students excited about learning a foreign language. Indila also has other music videos for her songs, such as Tourner dans le vide,” “Love Story” and “SOS.” All are catchy and school-appropriate. You will notice some common themes throughout the videos, such as the fact that she always wears a white dress.

Indila represents the new face of France, which includes people from all different ethnic backgrounds. I encourage you to watch the music videos linked above, share with your friends or classes and visit her website.

If you are interested in learning more about my experiences traveling and living in France, please visit Sylvaine Nuccio‘s site for an interview I did about my book. Or, for a review of my book, please visit The French Village Diaries.

Bonne écoute/Happy listening and bonne lecture/Happy reading!

Who is your favorite francophone artist?

© 2015 Jessica’s Franglais

Passing Down French in the Family: Merci Grand-mère

Evelyn (Evridiki) Pasa, Greek passport photo 1951, 22 years old

Frère Jacques

Frère Jacques, Frère Jacques

Dormez-vous? Dormez-vous?

Sonnez les matines, sonnez les matines

Ding-dang-dong, ding-dang-dong

Are you sleeping, are you sleeping,

Brother John, brother John?

Morning bells are ringing, morning bells are ringing

Ding-dang-dong, ding-dang-dong

This is the first song my grandma taught me when I was a little girl. I memorized the sounds, but I had no idea what I was saying. I grew up in California speaking English with American parents, but my paternal grandparents spoke French. My grandmother was born to Greek parents in Casablanca, Morocco, which was at the time a French colony. I’m sure my grandmother learned this song from her mother, and now she was passing it down to me.

I speak French now, but only because I learned it in high school. My grandparents stopped speaking French with their children (my father and his brothers) early on because the teachers told them it would interfere with their ability to learn English. I can hear the language teachers groaning (including me) because in fact, quite the opposite is true. As we now know, speaking more than one language has many cognitive benefits, including better problem solving and listening skills, an increased ability to focus and delaying the onset of dementia.

Once my grandparents found out I had decided to take French (the only person in my family, by the way) they simultaneously launched into explanations of feminine and masculine articles while perusing through my entire textbook. I was intimidated at first, but I stuck with French throughout all four years of high school, and then college (eventually switching over to French from an English major once I decided to be honest with myself), studying abroad in Toulouse, getting a masters degree in French, living for a year in Paris and finally teaching French to adults and high school students.

la fameuse tarte aux pommes à l'américaine/Grandma's famous apple pie

La fameuse tarte aux pommes à l’américaine/Grandma’s famous apple pie

Each visit to my grandparents inevitably involved making a giant apple pie with apples from the tree in their yard. In between peeling apples for the pie and my grandmother telling her favorite stories about me as a small child running around naked (that one never gets old), my grandparents and I would speak in French and no one else would understand us (well, they might have caught a few words). I think it’s safe to say that they were proud of me, and it all started with a simple song: Frère Jacques.

Mes grands-parents

Mes grands-parents


Evelyn (Evridiki) Pasa, August 5, 1929- March 23, 2015

Merci Grand-mère. Tu me manques beaucoup. Thank you Grandma. I miss you so much.

© 2015 Jessica’s Franglais