French Classes

Questions & Responses:
Seeking intermediate French with college credit(2 responses)
French language lessons for 3-year-old and myself(1 response)
Archived Responses: 

EFBA program for native French Speaker?

April 2014

I am considering putting my 2 children, who have attended French bilingual school since PK, into public school and sending them to the EFBA after school program 2x a week. One will be in grade 3 and the other in grade 5. I'd like to hear feedback on the program. How is it? Does your child enjoy it? Not sure if mine will be too advanced for it as they already read and write in French. I'd appreciate hearing from anyone whose children have attended. Thanks very much Jana

My daughter was entering first grade when we left EB for the excellent local public school. I signed her up for EBFA and she attended the whole year but, honestly, it was a waste of time for her. She is perfectly bilingual and The level was too low. The teachers were great but the class was too heterogeneous. The following year I bought a livre de Francais for the year and did the work with her and it worked out beautifully!

If you can be home when they come back from school at least 3 times a week and do some work with them then I don't think EBFA is worth it but if you have to work late then it probably is a good idea to sign them up. Bonne chance! Sylvie

2010 - 2012 Recommendations

After school French lessons

Sept 2012

Three families are looking to hire a French instructor for after school lessons. There will be four to five children ranging from 6-8 years, some with a bit of French skills and some without any. We are hoping for an hour or two two days a week. Merci.

I can recommend Ingrid Rombaut as a French tutor. She has tutored our teenage girls for 5 years, they began working with her at ages 8 & 9. Ingrid was great when they were younger and she has easily adapted to their ages and skill levels over the years. We are very pleased with her work and can recommend her without reservation. Please do not hesitate to email with questions. Dena

Depending on your location, French Education in the Bay Area (EFBA) could be a really good option for you. They offer after-school French language classes to students K-5 at several public schools in the East Bay. Depending on the site, there are usually two classes, one for kids K-1st grade and one for kids in 2nd - 5th grade. There are also separate classes for French speakers and English speakers. There are several locations in the East Bay, with a new location opening in Upper Rockridge this Fall. One advantage of using EFBA is that they have been doing this since 2009 and have a well-developed curriculum to prepare kids for the DELF. In addition, EFBA rigorously screens and trains credentialed French teachers to teach Anglophone and Francophone children. In the East Bay, classes will be held at Hillcrest School in Upper Rockridge, Walnut Creek, Kensington and Alameda. With over 18 sites running in the Bay area, Hillcrest will be the first site in Oakland. For more information, visit Bernadette

Anj is a native French Teacher. She is Highly Qualified [Master's degree-Magna Cum laude- in teaching French]. She also has years of experiences teaching/subbing in private schools (Head- Royce, Crowden etc.) and tutoring. She teaches in a way that keeps her students motivated. Each class is tailored to age-group and level. She has a lot of materials from France to work with. She offers a play-based and academic program because no good learning comes without having fun. First 20 minutes trial free. Contact her at itutorfrench [at] JJ

If you're looking for high quality After-School French classes, then try French for Fun in Lafayette. For nearly 30 years, they have successfully served students from all over the East Bay. Their teachers are natives and fulled credentialed FLE (francais langue etrangere). They offer after school classes 5 days a week for elementary and secondary school students. Their curriculum is well designed, and supported by a large collection of books and teaching materials. They also have a great summer program. Check their web site: They are conveniently located in downtown Lafayette, just off the freeway and near Bart. Happy Francophile

French Class for Adults

July 2011

I am wondering if anyone has a recommendation for a French class for adults in the Berkeley area? I am open to a private tutor (would prefer) or a small class. I am planning a trip to France and would love to improve my conversational French and atrocious grammar, just enough to be able to buy fruit at the local markets and navigate daily needs. Would greatly appreciate any suggestions! hoping to speak french

I have the tutor for you! Simone Knowlton is located in Albany. She is a lovely person, as well as a skilled french tutor (and is from France) who has been doing this for years. She is open to one to one or small group sessions. Simone BarthC)lC)my Knowlton Teacher of French (510) 502 - 1157 sbknowlton [at] Sara

I took private French lessons with Yasmina Hadri and she was wonderful. Our conversations were very interesting, and she had lots of good resources to encourage both reading and conversation. Yhadri [at] 435-7183 Good luck! Julie

Check out the language classes offered at the Orinda Community center. I've heard great reviews from friends about the Italian classes and the same instructor also teaches French. The course catalog is online. annon

My son has been taking French via virtual classroom with excellent results. His teacher is Robert Roberson. He has been teaching languages ( English, French, Polish, German and Italian ) for over 25 years to both children and adults. Here's the link. Susan

Try the Alliance Francaise in Berkeley: Bon voyage! Yvonne

French learning for mixed ages

May 2011

Does anyone have ideas for a family wanting to have fun learning French together? The kids are 4 and 6 with no prior experience; the parents know some basics and would like to relearn. Close to Albany is ideal for a class. Movies or fun audio books are good too. Appreciate any suggestions! Francophile

I don't know of a specific program for you, but I suggest that you contact the French schools in the area---either French-American International in San Francisco, or the French-only schools in Berkeley, San Francisco or Marin. I do know, for example, that French-American offers beginner French classes during the year, and has French camps in the summer. French fan

You can check out for great French classes. The ages range from tots to elementary ages so there are good groupings (and a lot of classes are good for there is a great sibling discount:)). Hope that helps! Cheryl H

My 1.5 y/o daughter and I currently attend a French Montessori immersion school in Martinez called ''La Maison des Enfants'' which is run by a native French speaker and 30-year Montessori teacher Sophie Phillips. There are different classes for different age groups/abilities (from babies up through elementary & beyond). Sophie is a gifted and passionate teacher who is refreshingly down to earth. From our house in Lafayette it's 20 mins. door to door, and given the exceptional quality of instruction/education I would travel much farther than that! Contact Sophie at tel 925 372 7361 or Good luck! Letitia

French bilingual playgroup for toddlers?

April 2011

Hello, My husband and I have started talking to our 13 month old in French, in the hope that she will become bilingual. Neither of us are native speakers, though we have both lived in France and my husband went to EB in Berkeley as a child. We likely will not be able to afford EB for her, so we want to expose her to other French-speaking children through a local playgroup. Does anything like this exist already? We live in Kensington, and would love to find something close by, ideally that meets on weekends as we both work full time. Thanks! Erika

Lango: Foreign Languages for Kids has a great French toddler group. They meet on Mondays from 10:30-11:15 in the Rockridge area. You can check out the website at to see if it's what you are looking for. Cheryl

French class for young kids

Feb 2011

I am looking for a class or other fun activity that can help my kids (ages 3 and 6) learn French - a mommy and me class, etc where they can learn songs and some basic vocabulary. I don't have hopes of them becoming fluent, just would like a chance to build on the French their grandmother teaches them. All the recommendations on the website are outdated and Lango doesn't meet at a convenient time for us. I'd also be open to an individual tutor or babysitter if the cost is not too high, if anyone has recommendations. Merci. maman

There are fantastic french classes offered by EFBA throughout the bay area. EFBA is a non-profit that offer french classes for French and English speaking school-aged kids. In any case, their approach is play based and the kids have fun learning. We go to the Kensington site but you should go to their website to see what location is nearest to you. For your youngest one there is a new, affordable, French Preschool opening in the fall near Lake Merritt see Bonne chance! Learning french too

French Conversation Textbook for high schooler

Jan 2011

I am tutoring a high school honors French student with an emphasis on conversation. I speak natively. Do you know a good textbook that features dialogues and conversations of daily French language. This should be the primary feature of the book, not grammar. I haven't really seen anything on Amazon. Thank you. Eric

Hide This French Book would probably be a lot of fun for your student, but has material that the parents might object to, perhaps. I used to teach Russian and my students loved learning slang.

Learn French By Podcast is pretty great. A wee bit on the dry side, maybe. It is not a text, but a bunch of conversational lessons grouped by theme. The podcasts are free. You can pay to get the text lesson guides.

In high school I studied the Rock Opera La Revolution Francaise and loved it. It is also not a text, of course. But you could plan to listen to and try to understand and discuss one song per tutoring session. The nice thing about songs is that it is fun to listen to them over and over again as you figure out the words. And then you could use each song as a jumping off point for conversation. The song topics range from the Rights of Man to Marie Antoinette on the morning she is taken to the guillotine, to Charlotte killing Marat in his bathtub. Brainy, bloody and bawdy but never boring. Susan

Group setting for teens to practice French

April 2010

Can anyone recommend a group setting for teens to practice French over the summer? Would Alliance Francaise be suitable? Thanks. Anon

I'm an adult and have been taking classes at the Alliance Francaise in Berkeley for quite some time. Classes are small (8 max.) and congenial. The teachers are native French speakers and very nice. The students tend to be adults, though. I think a teenager would have a good time if they got one or two other teenagers to enroll in the class with them. The Alliance also has monthly conversation evenings, movie evenings, and an occasional interesting lecture, all in French. You don't have to be enrolled in a class to attend them. Check out their website ( for details. Wanna-Be French Speaker

Alliance Francaise is for students 18 years old and older. So if that is not an option, you could look at Berkeley City College. Sometimes UC Extension has an intensive laguage program, but it may be pricey and go for more hours than your teen may be interested in. Perhaps Ecole Bilangue offers an informal gathering. Know any teens visiting from a francophone country? Perhaps your family and theirs could get together and chat for a while in english and awhile in french - i know, not so easy for teens to do. Have any French speaking neighbors or friends? Even speaking French with a local shop owner can help.

Just aren't as many options for learning French as there are for learning Spanish around here.

You can look on line at and go to the ''langue'' portion (see list on the left side), also you can get the francais facile edition of the news at rfi (radio france). Also free podcasts such as CoffeeBreak French, hosted by some Scots! Ayons bon espoir!

Need to learn basic French in 3 months

March 2010

My family and I are traveling to France for a few weeks this June and not one of us speaks a word of French. We cannot afford private lessons, which run about $80 per hour. And we don't have time to all go to various schools where classes are offered. So we are looking into language tapes for me and my husband and our 9 year old daughter. There are several that have been highly recommended, but we are at a loss as to which one would work best for our needs. There is Rosetta Stone, Berlitz, Pimsleur, and Muzzy (for children). And I'm sure there are others. We don't aim to be experts at French, but we want to at least feel confident enough to be able to communicate with the French people as we travel around. And we want to be able to read the signs and read the menus and the train schedules, so that we are not totally lost and confused. Is there a language tape that would help us learn enough French to get by? Which language program would you recommend? We only have about 2 months to learn. Is that enough time? Laurey

I don't have suggestions about particular products, but I do have suggestions on how to focus and what to look for in a product. You really don't have time to tackle the French verb system or really get in much knowledge of grammar, etc. A product that teaches useful phrases and basic pronunciation of words and phrases will be best. The kids' program, Muzzy, will do some of that, but you also need to know how to pronounce the letters of the alphabet, both as letters (A-B-C-D etc.) and as they appear in words (a = ah, i = ee, roughly, etc.). And you need to know your numbers. Practice those. And as far as phrases are concerned, you need a product that contextualizes phrases culturally -- for example, it is appropriate in France to say 'Bonjour madame/monsieur' when entering a small shop, and 'au revoir' when leaving the shop. That kind of information should be included in the product's materials. Learn the most basic phrases and practices (greeting, thanking, requesting, asking) and the numbers, and take along a phrase book like the phrase books of the Berlitz series, where you can point to something if you're not sure how to say it. and kudos to you for making the effort! Sometimes Parisians can be impatient with clumsy French, but I found that beyond Paris, my attempts at the basic polite phrases were appreciated. bon voyage!

My wife and I went through the Pimsleur 'Basic French' five CD lessons and found them to be helpful. We had previously bought and then discarded another company's basic French lessons. I still have the Pimsleur if you want to borrow it.I'm in Oakland near Lake Merritt. tvote

Free podcasts: Learn French by Podcast This is introductory french told through a mock spy game. Caveat: the spy says 'Oh shit!' several times. My kids enjoyed listening to these, but they are intended as an intro to french for adults. free french lessons at the bbc website susan

Try by Radio Lingua Network (they have other languages too). Geared toward travelers, they offer short, useful vignettes and I believe you can subscribe to or purchase additional materials.

You may want to try your local adult school, but first investigate whether it will be useful for travelers. Some use college textbooks, which isn't very helpful if you want to learn basic travel words and scenarios. Bon voyage!

2007 - 2009 Recommendations

9-year-old wants to take French

Nov 2009

My daughter is 9 years old and has several times expressed an interest in learning French. I'm not sure why. French is not offered at her school, and we don't speak a word of it here at home. She has simply become fascinated by the idea of it, and loves the way the language sounds. So I was thinking that it might be nice for her to take a fun introductory class to the language and culture, but I don't know where to go. I looked into French fo Fun in Lafayette, but unfortunately those classes meet several times per week which is a huge commitment for us. That will not do. Plus most of those kids have been in that program since preschool age, so they are all much further along. We need something closer to home (we live in El Cerrito), that is not a huge time consuming commitment. Afterall, I have no idea how long this interest of hers will last, and I don't want to introduce the language to her if it's going to be overwhelming. Something more simple, yet still fun, that meets only once a week would be great. Or some form of a camp that meets for a week or two. If she is more serious after that, then we might consider something more involved. Any ideas or suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Laurey

Try calling Ecole Bilingue de Berkeley 1009 Heinz Ave Berkeley 510. 549.3867
Grandparent of EB student

French for four year old

May 2008

My four year old daughter has expressed a desire to learn another language, and especially is interested in French. We can't take the classes at French for Fun in Lafayette because she is already enrolled in a preschool during the same hours. We are looking for recommendations of parent/child French classes/activities or other things that might get her going on the language. Thanks anon

My daughters have learned quite a bit from Ana Lomba's book/CD combos. Little Red Riding Hood/Petit Chaperon Rouge and Goldilocks/Boucle D'Or. For preschoolers I think Ana Lomba's Play and Learn French is really good. It gives you the vocab and songs and expressions to make fun french lessons out of everyday things like bathtime, rides in the car, going to the park, having breakfast, and bedtime. susan

If I recall correctly, this is for kids. But you can call them (Oakland library, see French for You Contact: Temescal Branch 510-597-5049 sbean [at] Learn the French language and culture via songs, poems, grammar and conversation from an experienced French teacher. Two Fridays each month, April through July, call the Temescal Branch for details. Advance registration is required. Location: Temescal Branch, 5205 Telegraph Ave.

2004 - 2006 Recommendations

Best way for 11-year-old to learn French

May 2004

My 11-year-old daughter wants to learn to speak French. She has been talking about this for some time, so the idea seems to be sticking. Can anyone offer advice on a low-pressure, effective way to begin learning another language? I would prefer not to engage in formal lessons, especially something that would become a weekly regimen; and I would also prefer that it not involve a computer screen. Face-to-face contact would be great, though! Thank you!

Though your daughter is still a bit young, the absolute best way to learn a language (and support any learning that has already taken place) is to spend some time where the language is spoken, among people who speak it every day. When I was fifteen I spent two months in Germany with a wonderful family who launched me on a lifetime of speaking German. Later when I was eighteen I went abroad again, lived with a family, and added another language. In both families there were members who spoke no English, and so I was forced to deal day to day in the language they spoke. It was sometimes difficult, but I don't think there's any really effective way to achieve real fluency otherwise. I would first travel with her to countries where French is spoken (Canada for one) and then think about having her go on a youth exchange if at all possible. a professor of foreign language and culture

Bonjour! The BBC's Muzzy program. Great program for kids.

Summer French Classes for Teen

May 2004

Does anyone know of a good beginning french class being offered this summer for a 15 year old? Or does anyone know of a good french tutor? Thanks for you help. Helen

International High School (IHS) in SF is the English speaking program of the French American International School (FAIS).

They offer French classes in the summer, among other classes.

I am paticularly impressed by the French instruction at the school. In her third year there, my daughter is approaching fluency in the language, and her accent is now superb. I believe the summer program would be equally good as that offered during the regular school year.

Here follows an entry from the weekly e-newsletter from the principal's French-speaking secretary, briefly describing the summer program, with links to further info and registration.

July 19 (until August 13), 2004: IHS Summer Enrichment Program begins 18 courses available $600.00/class program hours 9-12 and 1-4pm Register Online at starting mid-February. Questions? keiths AT Tel: 415-558-2038 Fax: 415-558-2010

Summer Class description at

You can register on the following link Mimi

2003 & Earlier

French Lessons for Young Children

October 2002

We are looking for a French tutor who has experience and enjoys teaching young children. Play-oriented language instruction to prepare for down the road. Ideally this would be in a small group setting (3-5 kids) around 4-5 years old. Any recommendations, suggestions, or ideas? Thanks. pamz

My 4-year-old daughter Mary attends a playgroup called ''French for Little Ones'' taught in a woman's house in the Oakland Hills. She has been going for a year now and really, really enjoys it. It is play-based learning. There are other more intensive programs around, I understand, in LaFayette and in Piedmont, but Juliana keeps her program fun and low key. In fact, she's got a group of kids from the Piedmont schools who attend the early morning french lessons that the Piedmont schools offer but go to Juliana's classes for a more light-hearted foreign language experience. Juliana tries to group kids together who are similar in age and experience. If you're not happy with your group, just talk with her and she'll work with you to find the right mix of kids. She gives the kids a snack too. She lets parents try the class without a commitment (it's $10/class) to stay for the semester. She doesn't hold classes in the summer. You can reach Juliana at 601-0739.


Has anyone had experience with (or know of) a French language class for 4 year olds in the East Bay? Our daughter is making up her own French words for things, so we figure she may like to learn the real French words. I (her mother) speak very limited French and her father speaks almost none (Ou est lechocolatier?). We visited our French cousins last year and they are very interested in many future exchanges between our 4 year old and theirs. We don't wish to be too pushy; yet, if she is interested, we would love for her to get a good basis in the language now and make future visits even more meaningful. We've seen the mixed reviews of the Muzzy video tapes and hope for a more personal touch. John

I don't know where specifically you are located in the East Bay, but there is a program for children called French for Fun in Lafayette that may be worth your checking out. Their number is 925 283 9822

[editor] updated April 2004 Claire

There is a French school in Lafayette called French for fun, which is openned to kids of all ages and offer immersion classes a few times a week. I do not send my kids there because French is their mother's tongue, but I know of many American families who do and are very happy with it. I personally know the woman who created and directs the school, Catherine Jolivet, she is very passionate, loves to teach and organize every other year a trip to Provence with her students and their families (my neighbors are going this summer). If you want your child to become bilingual and think he (she) would enjoy a more academically oriented system, there is the option of the French/American school of Berkley, some families belonging to this list have their kids there and would certainly share their experience with you if you are interested. Sophie

I did run into a library book you might want to look for: The House That Jack Built, by Antonio Frasconi call letters on spine were listed as JP Mother Goose Copyright 1958, library of congress card catalog #58-8625 This great book has the text in English and French on each page, and a review section at the end that asks things like Who built the house? Since it is so old, you might have a hard time finding it. Perhaps you could request it on interlibrary loan, however. We got it out of the San Leandro Main Library (we will have it till 4/11). I would still recommend Muzzy--Allegra still watches Muzzy quite a bit, and even requests it occasionally. We work on colors and numbers in Spanish quite often, which is something my limited Spanish can handle. Muzzy might not be sufficient by itself to teach the language, but would probably be good support, especially since neither of you is very fluent. (BTW: Allegra does the same thing--she tries to make up Spanish words for things. It's very cute!) Have fun! Dawn

Does anyone know of a French language program suitable for a 5 y/o? We would love for our daughter to learn French but did not want the entire pkg. of Ecole Bilingue. I would love to find something that was a low-pressure, fun way for her to be exposed to and immersed in French language for a few hours a week in a way that would be appropriate for her ie: songs, counting games, alphabet, early reading- maybe even a summer camp program?? Does such a thing exist?? Thank you.

Consider the BBC Language Series. This is a series of animated videos, with associated audio tapes, books, and CD-ROMs, especially geared to children from 1 to 10 years old. They come in at least 6 languages (French, German, Spanish, Italian, and a more limited selection of materials in Japanese and Irish Gaelic). The kids watch the videos instead of other TV, and absorb the language in a more natural manner than we adults did in high school. My 3-year old daughter really loves her Spanish set. For the first week after she got it on her birthday, she refused to watch anything else. And she now occasionally says a word or two in Spanish (after only 2 months!). It helps that both her sister and I know some Spanish (in fact, her sister used this same set in her Spanish Immersion class in 4th and 5th grade!). I also read some children's books to her in Spanish (Pegasus on Shattuck has a pretty good selection of non-English Children's books). I also discovered to my happy surprise that the Berenstain Bears Living Books CD-ROM (The Berenstain Bears Get In a Fight and The Berenstain Bears in the Dark) that I bought her recently has one of the two stories in both English and Spanish! (This particular one won't help you with the French, but if you keep your eyes open, you might find something similar--say a CD-ROM of Madeline in French?). The website is Check it out!

French for Fun in Lafayette: Total Immersion Programs for Young Children offers classes for children ages three to five. Classes are offered on MWF and TTh. The classes are taught by Madame Jolivet-Johnson, a French native and credentialled teacher. The classes are taught it a cute little cottage. She offers a fun, friendly preschool-like program. The parents I have spoken to who have kids in the program rave about it. Unfortunately the program is very expensive. I would have liked to have enrolled my daughter, whose father is French, but the program is out of my price range. The teacher also offers classes for grade school kids.
[editor] updated info as of April 2004: Our new telephone number is 925 283 9822