Study abroad in a French Secondary School!
Going to secondary school in France while living with a French host family offers young people the opportunity to learn about France, its way of life and culture while improving their French language skills. Students assume the life of an ordinary French teenager; they will live with a carefully selected host family, attend a local French school and experience the life, culture and language of France through complete immersion. Ideal for Transition Year students, this French language learning programme is available throughout the academic year, from a minimum of 3 months up to a full academic year. Studying abroad in France is an ideal way to experience the French way of life, achieve fluency and to become a more independent and mature young adult.
Deadline for September 2013 applications is Monday 15th April 2013 - Be sure to call to hold your place!
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Stay with a French host family
All French host families are sourced, vetted and screened through our French partner organization. They have a team of local coordinators based throughout France who live in the local areas. After an interview and home visit, host families are carefully selected by the local coordinator according to very definite selection criteria: open-mindedness, availability, receptiveness, good sense of welcoming and good accommodation conditions. Placements are always in safe residential areas that guarantee good conditions. Placements are mostly made in rural areas (countryside) and medium-sized towns, and very rarely are in the centre of big towns. Students can be placed in any region in France, so they must have an open mind to this when applying, as there is no guarantee of geographical preference in the placement process.
Host families in France are volunteers and receive no payment for hosting international students. The concept of host family payment is unique to Ireland and Britain. Therefore, the motivation to host international students is not money-driven; host families have a genuine interest in learning about the countries of their students and exposing themselves and their children to another culture by hosting. Students are truly considered a member of the family, equal in rights and duties, and they share day-to-day life, including leisure and outings. In return, they are asked to comply with family rules, which might include some minor tasks like washing the dishes or cleaning their bedrooms.
The host family is seen as responsible for the students' welfare and our partner office insists on their role as "parents". Host families come in all shapes and sizes; single parents with children living in the house, nuclear families, older couples whose children are no longer at home, as well as young couples who may not have children, are all considered potential host families. Our main criteria is a warm, caring, and comfortable home environment for students to be nurtured and thrive in. Applicants cannot reject host family placements and must agree to accept them without prejudice and to go into the programme with an open mind.
Study at a French school
Lycées, French secondary schools, are chosen jointly by the family and the local coordinator. If the host family has children of its own, they try to place students in the same school as their children, but this cannot be guaranteed. The local coordinator will consult with Lycée officials in order to place the students in the school and grade best suited to their backgrounds and needs. Lycée placements will also depend upon the particular schools available in the homestay area. Sometimes the option of attending the local college in 3ème classe (the last class before entering Lycée) is the best suitable placement, considering the host family, academic records and age of the participant. Students may be placed in a class lower than their Irish equivalent depending on language ability and the community.
There are 3 trimesters (3-month grading periods) per school year, starting in September (official national date). School holiday dates vary according to the placement area. In general, French schools have a holiday or break every 6 or 7 weeks.
Most French state schools are now working to the four-day week with Wednesday free and no school on Saturdays, but it depends on the Lycée. Students may have to go to school on Wednesdays and/or Saturday mornings.
The average school day in France: A school day in France is long, with a 1.5 to 2-hour lunch break, as the day can end at 5 or 6PM. Actual start and finish times will vary according to each local school. A timetable will be provided by the school and should be confirmed with the school after arrival.
In general, French students study hard and put less of an emphasis on extracurricular activities than their Irish counterparts. French Lycées do not usually offer extracurricular activities. School is very demanding, days are long and students are assigned a lot of homework, so sports and cultural activities are not connected to the school. Such activities take place outside of school. Sports clubs, art schools and youth groups offer extracurricular activities for secondary school students, and options vary from region to region. Students should view this programme as a different experience to what they are used to and may have to put sports and hobbies on hold if they are not available in their host community.
There are three grade levels in the French Lycée:
- Classe de Seconde (15-16 years old): Required subjects in this level are French literature, two foreign languages, history and geography, math, physics and chemistry, biology and economics. Most Transition Year students will be placed in Class de Seconde. In some cases, Transition Year students who struggle with their French may be placed in a Collège in Classe de Troisième, which is the final year before French students enter Lycée.
- Classe de Première (16-17 years old): In this level, students must choose classes from one of the following sections: literature, economics or sciences.
- Classe de Terminale (17-18 years old): In this level, students are focused on taking the baccalaureate exam and spend a lot of time in study hall preparing their subjects of specialisation (literature, economics or sciences).
Travelling from Ireland to France
Students may be asked to fly into the nearest airport to their host community or into Paris, Charles de Gaulle, depending on their arrival date. Please note that flights and trains are not included in the programme fee.
Local transportation to and from school is however the host family sees fit. Depending on the community, students may be able to walk or cycle, may be driven or carpooled or required to take the bus. In the case of a school bus, students will need to pay for their own costs.
Important terms and conditions about going to school in France
Friends will not be placed together. This is a programme designed for independent and individual students. Emphasis is on full language and cultural immersion. If friends apply together, they will be intentionally separated and placed in different communities and schools.
Students may not return home for the duration of their programme. This includes Christmas and Easter holidays, and mid-term breaks. All family visits must be limited to the end of the student's programme, not at the beginning or in the middle. After years of experience, we find that such visits disrupt the adjustment process and can lead to further homesickness and integration problems.
Students and parents cannot "reject" a host family placement in favour of a new one. Once host family details are sent to the student, they are final. Cancellations will incur loss of deposit.
EIL and Experiment France reserve the right to send home any student whose health requires it or whose conduct is considered improper or offensive to the host family, community or school. Such conduct includes drug use, unacceptable sexual behaviour, excessive drinking, violation of the law or failure in schoolwork. In the event that the student is returned home, either alone or accompanied, parents or guardians are responsible for all expenses above those covered by the fee. In such cases, no refunds will be available. If a student chooses to end the programme early on his or her own accord, for reasons including travelling home for a holiday or during mid-term, no refund will be given.
Students arriving on standard dates in August or January must participate in an arrival orientation in Paris. This orientation takes place in Paris and usually runs for 3 days and 2 nights. The cost of the orientation, including accommodation, meals, etc., is built into the programme fee. This orientation camp is mandatory for all students arriving on standard dates. Alternative orientation arrangements may be made for students arriving on alternative dates throughout the year.
Further conditions of participation are included in the application forms.
Common questions and answers about going to school in France
- Can students request to be placed in private schools or boarding?
- Can you offer placements in specific types of schools, e.g. music focus, science focus, sports available, equestrian, etc.?
- Are students ever placed in single sex schools, or religious denominational schools?
- What are some typical clubs that students would be able to join?
- Do teachers grade exchange students on the same level as their French classmates?
- Do students generally receive a formal transcript?
- Will I host a French student in return?
- What do the fees pay for?
- What other costs are expected during the programme?
Can students request to be placed in private schools or boarding?
No, the best schools for the students are chosen according to availability, the host family, geographical and quality parameters.
Can you offer placements in specific types of schools, e.g. music focus, science focus, sports available, equestrian, etc.?
No, as these types of school are very selective secondary schools, and are not necessarily open to foreign exchange students.
Are students ever placed in single-sex schools, or religious denominational schools?
No, all French schools are mixed. Private schools follow Catholic values but are non-practicing.
What are some typical clubs that students would be able to join?
Many sports and music clubs are available; soccer, rugby, tennis and athletics are the most practiced disciplines. Students are encouraged to ask their host families what types of sports and activities are available in the area.
Do teachers grade exchange students on the same level as their French classmates?
No, and usually not at the beginning when the level of French is too weak.
Do students generally receive a formal transcript?
Yes, but mainly for full semester or academic year students. The student is in charge of getting the transcripts before leaving the programme. Short term students (3 or 5 months) may not have had enough assessments to receive official marks.
Will I host a French student in return?
No, this is a one-way exchange and students will not have to host a French student. Some Irish students remain friends with the host family and siblings and stay in contact, but there is no obligation to invite them come to Ireland unless you make a personal arrangement amongst yourselves.
What do the fees pay for?
Administration costs for the hosting and sending organizations (PIE France and EIL), interview, orientation materials, arrival orientation in Paris - including accommodation, meals and activities/excursions, insurance with CareMed, support from a local coordinator and EIL Ireland, school enrolment fees and transfer costs. EIL and PIE France are both not-for-profit exchange organizations.
What other costs are expected during the programme?
Flights and transportation to host community, school transport (from €0 up to €70 for year on average), school lunches (which may cost approx. €100 per month), books, school stationery, etc. An additional €200-250 may be needed for school start-up expenses and personal expenses such as a mobile phone, Internet, hygiene products, clothes, entertainment, etc. Recommended spending amount: €130-180 per month. Please ensure that your child has enough money before going, or has access to an Irish Cirrus ATM card, as students are not allowed to borrow money from the host family and the partner organisation is unable to lend money.
2013/2014 Academic School Year prices
Full Year: 29 August 2013 - 19th June 2014
3 months: 29 August 2013 - 20 November 2013
5 months: 29 August 2013 - 24 January 2014
3 months: 24 January 2014 - 21 April 2014
5 months: 24 January 2014 - 19 June 2014
Short-term applications or alternative arrival dates may be considered on a case by case basis. Please contact EIL Ireland directly to discuss.
Deadline for Autumn start applications is 15 April 2013!
Late applications will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Apply for your place at a French school today!
Please post the following to us:
A fully completed application form. Students must complete the application themselves in French, unaided, except for the indicated sections (school transcripts, medical section, parents' letter, etc.).
€500 deposit for short-term application. For semester or year programmes, 25% of the programme price.
Applications must include:
- EIL Ireland and PIE France application forms
- 25% non-refundable deposit
- Passport copy
- Copies of 3 most recent school reports
- 4 smiling passport photos
- Photo collage of family and friends (2 pages)
- “Dear Host Family” letter in French
- Essay explaining why you want to participate on this programme, in French (2 pages)
- A letter from the applicant’s parents to the French hosts (mentioning their support for their child in this programme and add information that they’d like to pass on to their child’s French host family)
- Medical/parental release forms
- Health certificate, if undertaking treatment
- Certificate of vaccination, including Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus dated not before July 2002.
Please note that deposit and application receipt does not mean the student is automatically accepted. After EIL and Experiment France inspect and review the application and conduct an interview, you will you receive notification of acceptance or not. In cases where students are not accepted for whatever reason, your deposit will be refunded. EIL and Experiment France reserve the right to reject any application.
Applications must be received at least 12 weeks in advance, however this does not guarantee your chosen dates. We advise applicants to apply as much in advance as possible, as some times of the year are busier than others. Failure to include or complete any part of the application will delay your acceptance and may result in not being able to leave on the desired dates.
Please note that all students attending French secondary schools are required to have received the following vaccinations within the last 10 years: Diphtheria, Polio and Tetanus.
Any student who has not had the above vaccination boosters after July 2003 must get them done before they will be accepted onto the programme. Most Irish Transition Year students have not been boosted within the last ten years, as it is not a requirement in Ireland.