Universal offers free French course for Portuguese speakers in Paris

On March 3, the Universal Church of France started new social work in the country: a completely free French course for the Portuguese-speaking community. Classes taught from Portuguese to French take place at the La Plaine Saint-Denis temple, north of Paris.

For student Jardson Carioca, the new project is very welcome. “As soon as I arrived here I already missed some opportunities precisely because I didn’t know the language, and that [the course] helps a lot. It’s a great action by Universal, to help those who really need to learn French to even expand our chances in the job market.”

According to a study published by the National Statistics Institute (Insee), ten percent of the population in France is foreign.

In order to support those who need to overcome the barrier of speaking a new language, the initiative currently has the support of 12 volunteers and serves 250 students. In fact, the initial idea, which would be to hold classes just once a week with a single group, had to be expanded due to the large number of registrations. Currently, there are four classes with weekly lessons lasting one and a half hours.

The course will last four months and classes are divided between basic and intermediate levels, in order to provide the Portuguese-speaking community with the best opportunity to learn the language.

Regarding the students’ difficulties, the person responsible for the action, Pedro Bracchi, says that the majority who start in the classes do not even speak the basics and others are still adapting to the country. “The fact that the classes are free allows them to do, in the present, what they could only be planning for some time from now. So, it really is an advance, since teaching like this is very expensive here.”

“We noticed a commitment on their part [the students]. They always do their homework and show a lot of gratitude for this chance”, concludes Pedro.

Open to all age groups, the course offers free class material in printed format. In the initial module, participants learn to write and pronounce the language well on a daily basis, while in the intermediate module, the focus of the content is on improving writing and enriching vocabulary. At both levels, volunteers work hard on conversation, making learning even more dynamic.

“I haven’t been here very long, so I’m really stuck. I search the internet a little here, a little there, and I end up getting confused. And here, we have peace of mind. The teacher is very open, speaks a lot of French and this is very good, because we end up having more contact with the language. Studying alone we don’t know if we are doing it right or not, and here we have help from the instructor, from the course staff as well. For me, it’s been great”, says Viviane Lima.