Canterbury can be a wonderfully vibrant and diverse region. The main city was first settled by the Kāi Tahu iwi and named Ōtautahi around 1250, then founded as Christchurch by European settlers in 1848 as a stronghold for the Church of England. But did you know that France tried to establish the colony of Port Louis-Philippe just outside of modern Christchurch? The township of Akaroa maintains French heritage, and those early settlers have left a Francophile mark on Christchurch – making it great if you want to find a French tutor throughout Canterbury.

The business community in Canterbury also acknowledges and supports French-New Zealand ventures through the French-New Zealand Chamber of Commerce. Part of this is a delegation of 25 French entrepreneurs from Christchurch meeting at the NC-NZ Business Club to discuss trade and economic opportunities in New Caledonia.

So, whether you want to learn French to make the most of a trip to France, to improve your job prospects in the international business market, or to simple enjoy the French Film Festival without needing subtitles, there are some wonderful French classes and French teachers in Canterbury ready to help you on your language learning journey.

View of Akaroa the French heart of Canterbury
French Settlement Akaroa - Denizulusu from Getty Images Signature
The best French tutors available
Marine
5
5 (5 reviews)
Marine
$38
/h
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1st lesson free!
Catherine
Catherine
$49
/h
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1st lesson free!
Sylvie
Sylvie
$60
/h
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1st lesson free!
Marianne
Marianne
$30
/h
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1st lesson free!
Karine
Karine
$35
/h
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1st lesson free!
Jovan
Jovan
$19
/h
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1st lesson free!
Anneka
Anneka
$30
/h
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1st lesson free!
Bianciardi
Bianciardi
$30
/h
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1st lesson free!
Marine
5
5 (5 reviews)
Marine
$38
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Catherine
Catherine
$49
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sylvie
Sylvie
$60
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Marianne
Marianne
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Karine
Karine
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Jovan
Jovan
$19
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Anneka
Anneka
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Bianciardi
Bianciardi
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Let's go

Worldwide French classes with Alliance Française in Canterbury

When an organisation declares that its mission is to spread the French language and French culture far and wide, you should believe them. This is the lofty mission of Alliance Française, and the Christchurch branch carries this mission successfully with a variety of classes that range from French for beginners to scientific workshops for advanced speakers.

If you have children you would like exposed to the French language, or are raising bilingual, then AF has Les Boutchoux. These are weekly groups for primary school children to be immersed in the French language and French culture. While an hour a week will not make anyone bilingual, when combined with your own French learning and practice at home, French television, attending cultural events with AF, and learning French online with apps like DuoLingo for kids, there are endless opportunities to build a Francophile home.

You don’t need to take a French class with Alliance Française to become a member. However, becoming a member is an inexpensive way to create an immersive environment for yourself and your family, particuarly if you are in regional Canterbury. Membership provides plenty of opportunities to practice your newly developing French skills. With a great range of books for adults, children’s and teens, as well as board game nights where you can play games that are popular in France, and games that are popular in New Zealand, like Scrabble, but with a French twist.

Colourful French writing from kids
Lots ot places for Kids to learn French writing throughout Canterbury - EikoTsuttiy from Getty Images

Immersive French Lessons For Children

The number of options for children to learn French might prove how strong the French influence is in Canterbury. While in other cities in New Zealand, finding a French tutor who can work with anyone under the age of 14, throughout Canterbury, there are many levels to give kids exposure to the language and culture - and don't forget the Akaroa French Festival!

La Découverte The English-French Class at Burnside Primary School

In 20106, FRENZ School Inc and Ao Tawhiti Unlimited Discovery set up the South Islands first French-English bilingual class. In 2019 the class moved to Burnside Primary School, where it provides full French immersion classes that follow the New Zealand Curriculum. The class is set up, so that part of the week is spent learning 100% in French, and part of the week is spent in a mixed English class that comprises the main student body at Burnside Primary.

French Lessons For Beginners at Hagley College

As part of the “After 3” courses run at Hagley College, the “French for Beginners” class has the requirements that learners come with an:

  • Enthusiasm and interest in French language and culture

The After 3 program offers a range of different classes on a huge number of topics, all designed to help adults follow their special interests and keep developing new skills. Continuing to learn, particularly learning a language, has been shown to keep us young, alert, and hold off many degenerative brain diseases that plague us as we get older.

Taking a class that provides French lessons for beginners will mean that you can make introductions, share some of your likes and dislikes, and improve your understanding of French culture. But French lessons will help you learn the pronunciation and help you hear the individual words when you are listening to someone speak French, even if you can’t yet understand what those words mean.

High school girl learning french
High school students in Canturbury can also learn French - michaeligung from Getty Images
The best French tutors available
Marine
5
5 (5 reviews)
Marine
$38
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Catherine
Catherine
$49
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sylvie
Sylvie
$60
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Marianne
Marianne
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Karine
Karine
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Jovan
Jovan
$19
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Anneka
Anneka
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Bianciardi
Bianciardi
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Marine
5
5 (5 reviews)
Marine
$38
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Catherine
Catherine
$49
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Sylvie
Sylvie
$60
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Marianne
Marianne
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Karine
Karine
$35
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Jovan
Jovan
$19
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Anneka
Anneka
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Bianciardi
Bianciardi
$30
/h
Gift icon
1st lesson free!
Let's go

Finding Canterbury based French Teachers at Language Trainers

Starting a French lesson for beginners with Language Trainers will usually start with a free French lesson online using Skype. This will give you an idea of if the French tutor assigned to you will be teaching what you want to know and in a way that works for your learning style. Although they are based in central Christchurch, learners in other parts of Canterbury can learn French in person or via skype.

Canterbury Support For French Courses Online

Canterbury is more than just Christchurch! and not everyone can attend a regular French class in a physical Christchurch location. Whether this is because your schedule is changeable, you have other commitments, a classroom environment simply doesn’t suit, you don't actually live in Christchurch, or you prefer to do your learning as a hyper fixation.

The flexibility of studying languages online has a strong appeal, and many of the apps and online French courses are cheap or free. However, while these are really good for helping you practice your vocabulary in a fun way, they don’t really do much to help improve your pronunciation. Additionally, suppose you don’t understand the grammar rules, or have difficulty hearing the difference between certain sounds (e.g. Elle and il). In that case, the French courses you find online are unlikely to help.

If you want to learn French online, one of the best ways to do this with maximum efficiency is to engage a Canterbury-based French teacher. Search through the qualified and experienced tutors you will find on Superprof, and match yourself to a French teacher who can help you learn French fluently.

While you may have started your French learning mission by using an online French course, when you talk to a French tutor, they may be able to suggest better methods and options. You can then use your preferred app as a basis for practice and your Superprof French tutor as the guide to ensure that you are pronouncing French like a native and learning the areas you wanted to focus on.

French at Christs College in Canterbury
French is everywhere in Canterbury - Image by Makalu from Pixabay

Understanding the Francophone culture with the University of Canterbury

As Christchurch is a university town, you can take advantage of this by enrolling in a French programme at UC. They have the expected range of papers that prove your ability and knowledge to speak, read, write and listen in French. But additional papers also Francophone culture, French society, French literature and French films; better yet, not all of these papers are in French, so you can enrol and have a gentle introduction while you improve your language skills.

If you have never studied at university, the thought may be intimidating. However, you can start with just one paper. If that works for you, you can complete a second paper in the next semester. Before you know it, you’ll be looking at getting your PhD in French studies and wondering why you didn’t do this years ago. If you hit difficulties, talk to your lecturer, or engage a tutor from Superprof or the university to help you get over the hurdle.

As an extra bonus, students enrolled at the University of Canterbury can participate in a student exchange program and study either one semester or a full year in France and have this count towards your UC degree.

Prove Your Excellent Understanding of French

If you’ve been looking at learning French, particularly online, for a while, you will have encountered mention of DELF and DALF.

These are formal qualifications that verify your abilities with French. If you want to work in a French-speaking country or attend a French university, these are generally the minimum requirement to prove your language skills.

Both are awarded by the French Ministry of Education (Le ministre de l’Éducation nationale). While you can study independently, with a tutor, or in a French class, the exams are held twice a year and must be held sat in person.

Writing French in Canterbury
Learn to read and write French in Canterbury - Eikotsuttiy from Getty Images

The difference between DELF and DALF

You will generally see DELF/DALF together because they are both Diploma’s in French, with the difference being the level.

  • DELF = Diplôme d’études en langue française (Beginner and intermediate levels). The equivalent of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) A1, A2, B1 and B2 levels
  • DALF = Diplôme approfondi de langue française (Advanced level). Equivalent to the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL) C1 and C2 levels.

With some language certification, you need to re-certify every few years to prove your continued proficiency. With the DELF/DALF diploma’s the certification lasts a lifetime.

No matter your reason for learning French, if you live in Christchurch, Timaru, Waimate, or Woodend, you have many supportive options to become a true Francophile.

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Alison