The Heart of Europe: Dialogue Intensive French Immersion

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Dialogue's approach to teaching the French language is unique:
  • One-on-one private instruction only.
  • Your subject matter, your specialized vocabulary.
  • A complete French-speaking environment in a private home.
  • Ear-training and comprehension techniques used nowhere else.
Dialogue maintains three French-language training centers: Brittany in northwestern France, Saint-Aubin (Neuchatel) in Switzerland, and in the historic town of Spa, in the beautiful Ardennes region of Belgium. Click any of the links above for detailed information about Dialogue, or start with our "Frequently Asked Questions" section just below.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q.--- What kind of courses does Dialogue offer?

A.--- Dialogue doesn't offer any courses. All Dialogue language immersion training takes the form of individual, private language lessons of 45 minutes duration. Students take 4-5 or more lessons a day and spend the rest of the day studying and using the materials created especially for them during the lessons.

Q.--- When can I begin my Dialogue training?

A.--- Any time you want, although we suggest you begin with either a Dialogue "week" (five days and four nights), or "weekend" (2 days and two nights.)

Q.--- How can I prepare in advance?

A.--- At Dialogue you "un-learn" much more than you learn, especially if you have been frustrated with previous language-learning efforts. Students start fresh and need not be concerned with specific preparation.

Q.--- What about accommodations and meals?

A.--- Dialogue students stay and take their meals at the Dialogue schools in extremely comfortable surroundings. Mealtimes are key language learning periods. All prices include full room and board.

Q.--- What kind of progress can I expect to make at Dialogue?

A.--- Our students tell us that they make as much progress in two weeks at Dialogue as they would otherwise have made in four full semesters at a university. But let's be conservative about this: We guarantee twice the rate of progress than in other private schools that specialize in intensive language instruction. Dialogue is particularly suitable for people who lack the time for long-term language study and who are looking for the ultimate in intensive language training for results. The student receives a report at the end of his or her stay at Dialogue that includes a complete progress evaluation and strategies for optimizing further language study after leaving Dialogue.

Q.--- How many people will be in my group at Dialogue?

A.--- Just one. You. And no one else. The heart of Dialogue is total personalization. At Dialogue, you will never have to adapt to any preconceived system. Rather, we adapt to the way you learn best. You won't have to adjust to general (and often impersonal) learning programs. As in other schools, you will make progress in general language and communications skills, but you'll also focus on and achieve your own communications objectives. Every moment of instruction at Dialogue is A La Carte, molded to your learning style, and especially to the specialized vocabulary or subject matter you need to know in the target language. We've earned a valuable reputation internationally for intensive, effective, and ultra-rapid preparatory work for specific business objectives (conferences, negotiations on specific issues, seminars, meetings, speeches, press conferences and interviews). Dialogue is a restaurant where YOU write the menu. If you wish, we can even put aside general language study and concentrate solely on the specific material you suggest.

Q.--- What kind of other people will I meet at Dialogue? How do people dress at Dialogue?

A.--- There's no telling who you will meet at Dialogue. Dialogue students may be still in college, already retired, studying for business or learning just for the pleasure of it. Dress is casual at all times; you do not need to pack business-wear.

Q.--- Can I get Internet access at Dialogue?

A.--- Yes, you can log onto the Internet at Dialogue, but you must bring your own laptop computer.

Q.--- Can Dialogue handle my special dietary needs?

A.--- Of course. Just let us know if you are a vegetarian, allergic to certain foods, do not like to drink alcohol, or have any other needs.

Q.--- What about smoking?

A.--- Dialogue is a completely smoke-free environment.

Q.--- Can I get college credit in the US or Canada for my study at Dialogue?

A.--- No. Dialogue gives only one-on-one foreign-language instruction. We avoid the classes, set curricula, and tests that we believe only hold students back. We treat a language as a living, breathing thing, not as an academic subject, and hence we are not involved in the standard university language-learning process. Dialogue can, of course, help you prepare for credit-granting examinations depending upon your educational institution. We have helped many students in all our centers prepare for language proficiency, certification and other examinations, which they have passed in all instances.

Q.--- If I study French in Belgium, will I have a Belgian accent?

A.--- No. Our teachers are either French nationals or Belgians who speak standard French.

Q.--- Private, ultra-rapid progress sounds great, but isn't it expensive?

A.--- No. Not at all. Our prices are very competitive, certainly in comparison with other intensive language schools. But there is a difference: most other schools will put you into a small group of 4 or 5 people, with a big surcharge for private lessons. Dialogue is strictly one-on-one, and for the same price. For the same expenditure of money, for the same expenditure of time, you leave the course with twice as much knowledge (and five times the confidence!).

Q.--- All right, Dialogue's value seems obvious, but isn't group study more interesting, and certainly more motivating?

A.--- Yes and no. At Dialogue, you'll have all the advantages of a group with none of the inconveniences. It's always pleasant to be in good company of course. During breaks, meals, the evening hours, our students appreciate their opportunities to interact with one another. But during lessons, the presence of others is usually an obstacle rather than an advantage. Others will rarely share your objectives, your style, your level, your reactions, your needs. In groups, the slower student can be maddening, and the faster one can be just as maddening. Group training is, more often than not, group plodding. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. In a group, it's easy to become confused and disoriented by the mistakes others make. It's just as easy to become apprehensive about making mistakes in front of others. In language learning, group dynamics aren't always beneficial.

Q.--- Will a course of just a few days allow me to significantly improve my pronunciation?

A.--- Without question. We have developed an extremely effective pronunciation improvement method. A great number of university professors and international businesspeople come to Dialogue to improve their pronunciation in record time. Several professors from Harvard University who gave presentations at the Sorbonne in Paris directly after Dialogue training were complimented by the French themselves on their unusually fine pronunciation skills.

Q.--- Your work with Harvard professors is impressive, but I want to learn to understand the everyday language. How can I jump-start my comprehension level over a short stretch of time?

A.--- That's a good question. It's not easy to communicate if you can hardly understand what other people are saying. To achieve quick, tangible results in this area, we've put into place a unique oral comprehension method. Your ear -- despite every effort on your part -- doesn t naturally hear all the sounds of your target language. If you can't even hear the sounds in the first place, you cannot be expected to reproduce them. In only one week we can change your ear. (Don't worry, there s no pain, no actual surgery!) The fact is, you've already had a lifetime of ear training in your own language that tends to come in the way of your ability to hear in the target language. With our method, after a few hours, you'll be a little child again. Your open ears will once again have the child's ability to distinguish between words (such as, in French, le vin, le vent, and levons ) that previously sounded identical to your ears, but that have obvious differences to the trained ear or to the native speaker.

Q.--- How can you sum up the ways in which Dialogue is truly different?

A.--- Most schools attempt to instill linguistic confidence in their students. This is an admirable goal, but it's just not enough if you need to learn the true ins and outs of a foreign tongue. Each Dialogue session works with not one, but four separate objectives. The Dialogue trainer doesn't just help the student break through the psychological barrier, he or she also helps the student pass listening, cultural and linguistic barriers. During each session, the learner gains pleasure in speaking the target language (psychological threshold), adds aural comprehension and pronunciation skills (the listening threshold), practices appropriate means of expression (the cultural threshold), and more and more learns to speak without making mistakes (the linguistic threshold).

Q.--- You ve mentioned a Natural Approach. What do you mean by that?

A.--- The Greek philosopher Socrates said that hidden inside every human is a philosopher. At Dialogue, we believe that virtually everyone on this planet has the hidden ability to be a master of multiple languages. We follow the Socratic Method of drawing out what we believe is already inside rather than trying to cram outside material into a language student's already spinning head. The European Commission is very interested in our de-schooling approach. At Dialogue, students discover that they've been made a member of a family; it's not quite the school they expected. Training sessions replace lessons. A true home-away-from-home replaces the classroom.

Q.--- Tell me about your instructors. Would I have the same instructor all the time?

A.--- We really don't use the term instructors. Our trainers all have post-graduate university degrees. Each one is a specialist in a number of real-world professional areas. Each one knows the workaday language behind the language, whether the area be marketing, finance, human resources, accounting, banking, or technical fields. Our trainers are all upbeat, highly-motivated people who operate based on an abiding desire to see you make measurable progress. It's your choice as usual: you can stick to a single trainer for your entire stay, or you can pick the brains of several. Dialogue gives you whatever your personal style or business requirements demand.

Q.--- All the schools talk about the benefits of Total Immersion. How does Dialogue view this?

A.--- Total immersion sounds great, but the question remains, total immersion in what? Hearing the target language for a week instead of your own is a fine idea, but true immersion, the Dialogue way, is so much more. To ensure true immersion, Dialogue accepts only a handful of participants (our term of choice) each week, who immediately become part of the family, all in the target language environment. At meals, during breaks, after dinner, native speakers always predominate at Dialogue. At many other schools the ratio is just the reverse, with a single instructor for up to ten students. Dialogue dinner-table conversation is the real thing, not student or tourist talk. On weekends, participants aren't left to their own devices; Dialogue people are always there to show them around and to satisfy their curiosity as tourists.

Q.--- Sound like just the thing for me. When can I get started at Dialogue?

A.--- Whenever you wish. Whether you're a complete beginner or just on the point of total fluency, you can begin on any day of the week, and for as many days or weeks as you wish. You can give yourself a break during weekends or work through them. You make the schedule at Dialogue, and you can also adjust it in mid-stream if you need to. Before beginning at Dialogue, we'll discuss your needs and desires at length.

Q.--- I'm a total beginner, but I need to learn a language for business or professional reasons.

A.--- At Dialogue, that won't present a problem. We'll have you working in your target professional vocabulary from the first session.

Q.--- I'm an advanced-level speaker and I'm having trouble finding training on a high-enough level. Many schools simply refuse to accept a student with my level of competence, yet I know I can learn much more.

A.--- Dialogue trainers recognize the special needs of very advanced language students. They know how to structure advanced training so that the student makes just as much progress as the less advanced student, without being held back by the group approach.

Q.--- All right, I'm now convinced that Dialogue is for me. What should my next step be?

A.--- Elliot Essman, a Dialogue graduate in French, acts as Dialogue's representative for the United States and Canada (and is available to field English- language inquiries from around the world as well). You may send him an email at . You may wish to view Elliot's information page before getting in touch. Elliot is skilled at discerning your needs and will be happy to speak with you at length about your language learning plans. He can help reserve your space at Dialogue and facilitate payment arrangements.

North American Inquiries: Elliot Essman