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Learning French

Knowledge of French is essential for you to integrate well. We recommend that non-French speaking scientists learn the language as soon as possible, ideally before they arrive in France. Your ability to speak French will enable you to make contacts more easily, to integrate quicker and to better understand your new environment.

Courses can be offered to PhD students and foreign researchers in your host institution.
Contact the languages department (students) or training department (employees).

There are many solutions on offer in Lyon and Saint-Etienne to learn French. Here are a few tips to help you.

In Lyon

French lessons: language schools

  • List and contact details of schools teaching French in Lyon
  • Alliance Française de Lyon: A partnership between the Alliance Française network and the EURAXESS France network offers you a 10% discount on tuition fees at the Alliance Française de Lyon. This discount also applies to your family if they have come with you (for those above 16 years of age).

To benefit from this discount, you must be registered on the EURAXESS France database.

More information about this partnership on the FnaK website.

French lessons: associations

  • Coup de Pouce Université: this voluntary association offers French lessons for foreign students including PhD students. Annual fee of €100 per year for PhD students. 
  • ItinérENS is an association dedicated to welcoming and supporting migrants and refugees in France. The association offers free French language courses from Alphabétisation to B2 level, for all. Classes are usually 2 hours long and run by two volunteers working in pairs.
  • Fil (Facilitating Insertion through Language): evening or day classes, throughout the year, except school holidays, in 5 different locations. You can enroll all year long. Fee: from €30 per year. 

Language exchanges

  • Le KoToPo: KoToPo is an association that offers friendly, free language exchanges between native speakers of other languages and French language speakers each night of the week. Each night is dedicated to one or more languages (Monday: English, Tuesday: Spanish, Wednesday: Japanese, Thursday: Portuguese/German or Italian/Chinese, etc.). A great way to share your language while learning French.
  • Le Polyglot Club: organizes free language exchange evenings.
  • Lyon's municipal libraries also offer regular conversation cafés in French. For more information: Events in Lyon's municipal librairies: select "Cercle et conversation"

In Saint-Etienne

French lessons: the CILEC

  • The CILEC (International Center for Language and Civilization): offers French lessons. Contact them via their website for a quote. 

Associations and linguistic exchanges

  • Le Remue Méninge: a community café in the heart of Saint-Etienne offering free activities and French conversation workshops.
  • The Polyglot Club: organizes free language exchange evenings.


Tools to improve your French

Tools to help you integrate

Spiky app

Link to download.
Free application project for foreigners arriving in France, and students in particular.

Living in France
: this Campus France section offers a number of tips and videos on gastronomy, traveling, French regions, French language and culture, cultural norms, leisure activities (sport and culture), climate and safety.