French, Faster

The French [Delf]( exam is coming up in May, and yours truly is intending to go for crash courses until she is suitably prepared to pass it.
Alliance Francaise’s Delf preparation classes were already in progress when I decided to take the exam, so I couldn’t join in; and besides they don’t offer classes for the basic level I want to take. They also told me they didn’t think I could get ready in time for the exams in May. Gee, thanks.
So I decided to surf around to find other schools that could help me, pronto. I found a school called French Faster and they have had recent experience helping students pass their exams.

I read a passage and get most words right. My assessor said I had a good accent and he didn’t have to spend much time on my pronunciation. (While knowing I still had some way to go, I was pleased because this is the second native French speaker to tell me so!) Also, I had already some basics so an additional 40 hours could prepare me for the exam in May.
That is what I wanted to hear. Not a ‘you cannot do this’ or ‘you are too late, we can’t help you’ kind of answer. Of course, I am paying more for private tuition here, but what is the point of saving money by going for group classes when you can’t have all your questions answered, and if you fail your exam?
For instance, at the Alliance Francaise Elementary 3 class that I recently dropped out of, we were told some rules to follow. Then we were told that there were some exceptions to the rule. One classmate asked, “Why?” and the answer was, because it just is. We were told to memorise all the words that fell under this exception. I thought, oh boy… this feels like Chinese class all over again, si(3) bei(4)! (memorise until you die)
When I told the French Faster assessor this, he showed me how he taught it differently – by combining the first letters of each word to form a related English word, which I understood. He also drew pictures to help me visualise it. He said that the textbook I was using, Reflets, was not user-friendly, being written from a native French perspective instead of seeing things from the student’s viewpoint. Which was why everything ‘just is’ that way.
I don’t like memorising things I don’t understand. So I hope this new assessor’s teaching style will be better for me.
I still think Alliance Francaise is a much nicer school, in terms of location and facilities – and it’s definitely the most famous French language school in Singapore, along with RELC which teaches other languages. It is nice to learn at a leisurely pace and make new friends there. However, when it comes to speeding things up and customising courses at an affordable price, I’m going with this new school. Fingers crossed!


  1. coleman yee

    look for a teacher or book with an author who understands linguistics. they’re more likely to be aware of the reasons behind the ‘exceptions’.

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