One of students’ favorite components of French Practicum, language partners offer AUCP students an insider view into French social life. Language partners are local young people interested in improving their English, in the same way that AUCP students wish to improve their French. AUCP students meet their Language partner on the first Friday of the program, and they continue to meet for a minimum of two hours per week, to chat for one hour in English, and one in French. It’s a true exchange, with someone around the same age who understands just how difficult it is to learn a second language. Language partners let AUCP students see what life is really like as a young French person, but that’s not all, here are 7 more reasons why language partners are the best!
1. They know where the student discounts are
Language partners have already taken the time to explore and discover Aix and Marseille, and can show you their favorite student hangouts in the area. It’s rather common for French university students to go to school close to home, so many language partners have lived in the region since childhood. They can show you that one boulangerie that is open 24/7, that café that serves free appetizers, the best happy hours and much more.
2. They’re super impressed with your French
As an AUCP student, you already have a level of French that is quite impressive, but we know that you’re still learning. We ask our language partners to be aware of this, but they almost always come back and say, « Wow, he speaks French REALLY well!! » The French are not fort in foreign languages, and while they do study two languages in high school, they are just as nervous about speaking other languages as you are. You’ve read Zola, Balzac and Baudelaire – and that is impressive! So revel in the success of reaching this point in your French study, and work hard to continue improving even further.
3. And, they think your accent is cute
Did you think that Americans were the only ones that have a thing for accents? Sure, British and Italian accents are great – but your accent is foreign to the French too! So don’t be ashamed of making pronunciation mistakes – if you’re not sure how to pronounce something, just ask, your language partners will think it’s adorable.
4. They’ll correct you, if you ask them to
Language partners have volunteered to come meet AUCP students – meaning that they’re interested in meeting new people, helping you with your French, and possibly getting help with their English. Making mistakes is a given, but they might not feel comfortable interrupting you and correcting you from the get go. Depending on what your learning style is, you can set the tone right away and say, « Hey, I know it can be kind of awkward, but can you stop and correct me when I make mistakes please? » they’ll be happy to help. And that’s how you figure out what gender a table is once and for all.
5. They think you grew up in High School Musical, or The OC
Were you a « pom-pom girl? » Yes, that is what the French call cheerleaders. Just as you came to France with your own stereotypes (baguette & beret, anyone?), some French students may not have met other Americans before you! Your very normal high school life will be pretty interesting for them – so you already have a bunch of conversation topics to choose from. They’ll want to know all about your prom and see your yearbook – things that don’t exist in French high schools. And maybe, find out if you’ve ever met Zac Efron.
6. They teach you French slang
You’ll learn pretty quickly that people don’t speak French like they do in your 19th-century French Lit class. From dropping the « ne » in the « ne…pas » to a plethora of langage familier, they’re there to teach you the French equivalent of bae, yaaas, and on fleek. Yes, they do exist. And no, you can’t use them in your French Lit essays.
7. And if you hit it off, you’ve gained a friend!
Making French friends is no easy feat – passing that step from acquaintance to friend takes a bit longer for the French. But if you’re open to nurturing your new friendship, if you step out of your comfort zone and send the first « texto » instead of waiting for your language partner to call, you’re already moving in the right direction. There’s always a great deal of chemistry involved in making friends, but if the friendship sticks, you can be sure that you’ve gained a true friend. We’ve seen it all – language partner visits (one of our French language partners did a tour of the East Coast, visiting the friends he had made at the AUCP!), language partner roommates, language partner penpals, language partner godparents, and even language partner marriages! Also, you get to say, « So my friend is French and he told me that… ». Doesn’t get any cooler than that.
To learn more about students’ individual experiences with their language partners and the other ways that students immerse themselves in French language and culture, head over to our Meet an AUCP Student section of the blog and visit the Immersion section of our website.