I completed a full year at the school which included 3 trimesters between October and June. They also offer a summer class. My wife and I had also attended the Christian language school in Albertville before moving to Chambery so I began the ISEFE program as an intermediate speaker.
ISEFE is a language program for foreigners in general but is geared mostly toward university or graduate students. Probably 80-90% of students there are University students. Some are studying abroad while others are there hoping to enter into studies at the University after learning the language. Some intend to enter into Masters programs while others plan to try to find work in France. A large percentage are Chinese however I met students from all over the globe. I only met 4 other missionaries at the school during my year of study there.
ISEFE has several teachers and divides up students based on levels into different classes. Class sizes varied, with the most I observed being around 15 students. Advanced level classes are usually smaller. Class time is 20 hours per week. The schedule varies depending on what level/class you're placed in so it isn't possible to know your schedule beforehand. My classes during one of the trimesters were Monday mornings, Tuesday and Wednesday mornings and afternoons, Thursday afternoons, and Friday mornings. The schedule changes each trimester.
Each class has one main professor who does the bulk of teaching and covers the grammar. You will also have an elective of your choosing with another teacher- it could be French literature, creative writing, or any number of topics. You'll also likely have 2 other professors, one who does French social studies and another who covers another area of the language such as reading.
All of the professors are French and most of them are very nice and understanding of foreigners. I recommend the program to young people. As far as missionaries who are learning French to go to Africa, a Christian language program like the one in Albertville could be a better fit. At ISEFE there is a strong emphasis on French culture and living in France which would be nearly useless to those going to Africa. ISEFE of course is a secular program so there isn't any Christian support at the school. The Albertville school is also more ideal for those with children since it has a nursery on site and helps you get your older kids into local schools.
For younger missionaries planning to stay in France who do not have children, ISEFE could be a good choice since you learn a lot about French culture and society as well as University life in France. The biggest benefit is the very low cost of the program compared to many others in France. Fees are on their website (link below). The school will arrange housing for you if needed. They also arrange a number of events and field trips during the school year.
The actual setting of ISEFE is quite beautiful. The Chambery suburb of Jacob-Bellcombette, where the school is located, sits up on a hill with beautiful views of the mountains around and valley below. You can be in the center of Chambery in a 10-15 minute walk.
The website of ISEFE is available in several languages and you can also find the current fee schedule on the site. http://www.isefe.univ-savoie.fr/index.php/home/programme-intensif-de-francais
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