As you know, alpha.b launched an alternative way to learn French online with our brand new Virtual classes 2 weeks ago.
The school is closed during lock-down so all our students are now following French courses online with their class and teacher.
Annie, our intern, had to go back to England and is now following the class as well. She wanted to share with you her experience.
Having tried an in-person class at alpha.b, I was very interested to see what the virtual classes would be like. For me and many people around the world at the moment, virtual classes are a real necessity if you want to continue learning French.
Yes, it’s true that learning French at home, where you already have to be most of the time anyway, is a far less attractive proposition than learning French on the beautiful French Riviera. On the other hand, this way I can attend my classes in my bedroom, wrapped in a blanket with a mug of tea (an essential ingredient for learning for British people).
Virtual classes with alpha.b take place on the site WebRoom, which is like Skype but a bit more advanced and specifically adapted for online classes.
It allows the teacher to share documents, videos and homework and of course discussions all together.
There is also a small message board which allows everyone to contribute to the class visually.
This way, everything happens more or less like it would at an in-person class.
You can do all the same kinds of exercises using varied resources, for example videos, texts for comprehension and grammar exercises.
The advantage of this tool it that after every class, everyone receives a summary of the class by email with all the documents that were shared during the class.
This allows you to go back to anything you covered in class even though there are no paper copies.
I am taking part in the Continuous Course at B1/B2 level, which takes place every day from Monday to Friday with Jean-Philippe.
Each day we normally focus on one grammar point and then at least one other subject.
The next day, we look over the grammar point again to consolidate what we learned the day before.
The form of the classes doesn’t stop us from playing games all together, as per the normal fun style of alpha.b courses.
Today we played a little game to practise pronunciation and diction with tongue-twisters, which were hilarious to try in French.
There are only three people in my class, which makes for a very friendly atmosphere.
I feel like I can ask a question at any time which is a really important factor for me – I often find that large classes can be a bit intimidating.
Occasionally (of course) someone has problems with a lag on the video or audio, but thanks to the small class size generally everyone can talk without confusion or someone being left out.
Obviously, this could become more difficult if lots more people join the class over time, but for the moment the small size is perfect. Another great thing about it is you really feel like you can have a bit of a say in the content of the course, because the teacher asks us what we would like to cover and which subjects we need most.
My priority with these classes is to really try and improve my confidence when speaking in French and to be able to speak more naturally.
Unfortunately, for me this course is replacing a stay in France, where I would have been able to speak French in more normal everyday settings, and nothing can really replace that kind of immersion in a language.
However, it feels like this might be the best kind of course replacement possible because of its real focus on communication. It’s nothing like the school lessons I remember, which were often silent and very serious.
I am very excited to see how my level improves over time, and I hope to eventually test my skills when I can come back to France again. But in the meantime, I will be following my progress, along with the ups and downs of trying to learn French at a distance!
If you also want to join our online courses and virtual classes, please click here to learn more.