Stay and Learn French Immersion in Provence
Virginie Van Der Wees lives with her young family in Rousset, a small Provencal village near Mont Sainte Victoire and a short 20-minute drive from Aix-en-Provence. She is a masseuse and a certified French teacher for non-French speakers. Beginning in 2018, Virginie organizes full immersion experiences that include hosting language learners in the studio apartment at their family home – Mas des Trois Pins.
In the interview below, we asked Virginie about her Virginie in Provence curriculum that allows students to build on their knowledge and move to the next level and beyond while enjoying the wonders that Provence has to offer. Suitable for any age group, Virginie offers adapted, tailor-made solutions for clients moving to Provence. This program allows them to improve their French and overcome cultural changes. Virginie also provides classic French lessons and cooking lessons (in French) online or at the client’s home.
1. You are a DAEFLE certified French language teacher. Can you explain what is required to achieve the certification?
My name is Virginie, and I studied literature at school for three years. I also have an MBA in leisure travel. Thanks to this background, I had the opportunity to work in the tourism industry for eight years. I then decided to go back to my first passion and decided to pass my DAEFLE (diploma in teaching French as a foreign language). The DAEFLE certifies skills in teaching French to non-French speaking audiences. Achieving the DAEFLE certification requires motivation and passion.
2. When did you start working with students?
Before offering immersion experiences in Provence, I started teaching French in some of the fabulous French-speaking capitals of the world, including Paris and Brussels, in 2015.
3. Do you work with students of all ages?
I have taught a wide variety of people, all starting at different levels, including diplomats, lawyers, and politicians. I continuously adapt my courses to the needs of each student or group of students. Based on that, I can say I am an adaptive person, and teaching students of all ages is not a problem! More importantly, I am focused on ensuring that the French learners, who come and stay with us, have the most wonderful experience possible while improving their French.
4. How do you assess a person’s level of spoken French?
I usually send a test before the arrival should the student ask for it. Otherwise, we define the immersion program upon arrival and adapt it according to their needs.
5. In Provence, do you offer programs both in-person and online?
My main activity is to receive students in immersion in my house. I also do one-on-one programs in person and online but have few availabilities for those.
6. What if someone can speak reasonably well but needs help with writing or business terms?
No problem, as each immersion or lesson focuses on the student’s needs.
French Immersion in Provence
7. If someone wanted to stay in your studio and learn French, how does your holiday immersion program work?
So as you can better imagine how your stay will be like, here is an overview of a typical day with me:
– At 9:00 am, we will meet for breakfast (my husband and kids will be gone at that time). The perfect occasion to start the day while talking in French together!
– At 9:30 am, the formal study part of the immersion stay will start. I will first assess your level, and together we will decide on a plan of action and material to study. I always try to bring a lot of fun to my classes so that you will never feel bored during those three hours
– At 12:30 pm, we will stop for lunch, which we will share by the swimming pool or in the house
– During the afternoon, there will be many more opportunities to talk in French together in a more informal way. Spending time together cooking, walking, shopping, or simply resting at home are all opportunities to practice speaking French. You are free to explore the region or join me in whatever I will be doing during that time
– At 2:00 pm, I will need to take care of my household chores, and at 4:00 pm, I pick up my kids at school, returning approximately 30 minutes later. Until 8:00 pm, I take care of my family. You can do whatever you like during that time frame, whether inside or outside the house. You are also warmly welcome to share all those moments as a family with us, but you have no obligation to do so
– Dinner time and organization will depend on the formula you choose (2 or 3 meals a day). Three meals a week can only take place on Thursday and Friday, but the student can cook in their private bungalow.
– Twice a week, we will go for an excursion in the region. I can make many recommendations, but we will decide together where to go, depending on your wishes and requirements
The above description is of a typical day in immersion is just an example, as I am very flexible. In the end, we will do whatever we can to make this week memorable for you!
8. What activities do you do during a week of holiday immersion?
It depends on people’s wishes. But we usually do French lessons in the morning. Then twice a week, the student can decide to visit Aix-en-Provence (market, museums, Cezanne workshop), go to Cassis, hike in the mountain Sainte-Victoire, or taste wine in a local vineyard, etc.
9. Do you offer family programs?
Yes, I do.
10. Can you explain the “Chatfes”?
I organize “cafés” at home for my students living in France. Non-French speaking people can join us as friends to talk about a wine tasting or other local products from all over Provence. That will be the occasion to chat and improve “votre français”. Together we will choose the theme of the chat and the products you would like to taste.