Preparing in Advance

Preparing to Study French

Learning French is a real challenge. Here are some ways to help you prepare:

  • Try to take some French before coming. However, don't expect even several years of high school French to make the course easy.

  • If you can't get any foreign language experience before coming to Parole de Vie, we recommend that you review English grammar, as a good understanding of grammar is essential to learning French. If a grammar book is not available, you may find online sites that are helpful.

  • Before coming to language school, it's best to set aside all preconceived notions about good grades and classroom competition and simply seek to learn as much as possible. Becoming upset about poor performance can be a real handicap to learning. A positive attitude works wonders.

  • The golden rule is: the more you and your family immerse yourselves in French and "abstain" from English books, tapes and conversation, the more French you will learn and the faster you will be able to communicate.

Preparing to Move to Quebec

Application form

We suggest that you send your application in March/April for the fall session and by July/August for the winter session even if you are not sure that you will be able to start then.  


We have some 2 and 3 bedroom apartments that are rented on a first come first served basis, as applications are received. All apartments are furnished, including appliances, so all you need to bring are your personal items, your beddings and towels. Laundry facilities are provided.

If housing is not available on campus, of if you would prefer to live off campus, there are many good, modern apartments nearby in Sherbrooke and the surrounding area. We will help you find suitable housing for your stay in Quebec.

Please note that, for off-campus housing, most property owners require that a 12-month lease be signed. It is also not always possible to find furnished appartments off campus. Unfurnished appartments usually have no appliances included.


Bring warm clothes! A couple of pairs of long underwear will be welcome from December through March. If you have winter sports equipment such as ice-skates, snowshoes, cross-country or alpine skis, there are many opportunities to use them here. Bicycles are not practical from November through the end of March.


A good bus system and taxis are readily available throughout the area. Cars are practical for those living off campus. Snow or all-season tires are a must even if you have radials. It snows a lot here and even though snow-removal and salting is prompt, a thin layer of ice or snow often remains. All roads are either uphill or downhill. Nothing is flat so come prepared. Bring a snow shovel too!


Virtually everything to which you are accustomed in the United States or in other parts of Canada is available here, generally at slightly higher prices.


We strongly urge families to move to Sherbrooke at least one week before classes start. A time of adjustment is recommended for you and your family. This will enable you to start the French course fresh and rested. If you decide to move your belongings here by U-Haul, there is a drop-off point 35 miles south in Newport, Vermont and Ryder has drop-off points in Sherbrooke. Please let us know when you are coming as well as the kind of apartment you will be requiring so that we can make arrangements before you arrive.

Canadian Customs

For those moving to Quebec from the United States, the Canadian government may require a refundable cash deposit on household furniture, appliances and vehicles brought into Canada by students, so come prepared with a detailed list. Sometimes this payment has been deferred until later, but in some cases it was required at the border before entry was permitted. The amount required varies with the value of your belongings. You can obtain information concerning current customs regulations by calling or writing your nearest Canadian embassy or by visiting theCanadian Border Services Agency website.

Medical Insurance

Make sure that your medical insurance policy will cover you in Quebec. In the event of hospitalization, you will be required to pay all services up front and then apply for reimbursement from your insurance company afterward. It is possible to purchase medical insurance from a local company,, located in Sherbrooke. You can contact them at 1-800-891-0370.

Automobile Insurance

If you are bringing a vehicle with you, check to make sure that your insurance will cover you while in Quebec.

Education for children

Public schools are available both in English and in French, with special classes available to help English children learn French.

Ideally, children should be registered in mid-August because school begins during the last week of August. It is essential to have official birth certificates for your children, as well as previous school records. Birth certificates must have your names on them as the parents. Non-Canadian children will also need to have immigration documents from both the Quebec and Canadian governments. The procedure for obtaining them should be started well in advance. We will help you through this whole process once we receive your application papers.

How Long to Stay

The speed at which a person learns a language depends on a number of factors that vary from one person to the next.  These factors include such things as language learning aptitude, previous language learning experience, personal motivation, age and family status.

The level of proficiency you require will depend on your intended use of the French language.  In order to be able to preach or teach in French, most students should plan on completing at least the advanced level, and possibly even the immersion level. 

Students normally progress through two levels during a ten month period, during the fall and winter semesters.  The spring semester is a conversation course intended to strengthen the proficiency attained during the previous semester(s).

Beginner level students should anticipate investing three semesters, in addition to the spring semester, if they desire to complete the advanced level of the program.