How to Get a “P” in Paris

Abby Melton is a student at the University of Alabama and an ISA Featured Blogger. Abby is currently studying abroad with ISA in Paris, France.

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Studying session at a student-friendly café called, “Sugarplum”

So as I’m getting used to being a student at the Sorbonne in Paris, I’m also getting used to the French style of teaching.  To me, it’s generally quite different from how professors teach in the States, but there are still commonalities. For me, it’s been difficult to adjust to their specific style, but alas. Here are some things that I’ve recognized as “the French teaching style:”

1) French professors give grades on a scale of one to twenty. They very seldom give a full 20/20 on any assignment, regardless of its weight (even homework assignments). Don’t worry, though—generally speaking, a 15/20 is pretty good, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

2) If your grammar or pronunciation is slightly off, French teachers correct you. Sometimes, depending on the professor, this can be quite off-putting (especially if they interrupt you and say, “Oh la-la,” at your mistake, which isn’t uncommon in my case).

3) “Lecture courses” are just that—100% lecture, 100% in French. In our program, it’s two hours of listening and taking notes on the occasional slide—and some classes don’t have any visuals, which can be extremely difficult for beginners.

4) When handing back assignments, professors will hand out the highest grade first and end with the lowest one. Some don’t do this, but this is definitely true with my teacher.

5) They’re very offended if they see you doodling. So don’t doodle. Or you might get yelled at hardcore—not that it happened to me, or anything.

6) Lastly, I’ve found that a lot of the classes I’m taking are simply “Pass” or “Fail.” Which means I get to do the bare minimum to get by… Just kidding. The most successful students here do their homework and come to class. I can say that, so far, it’s been working pretty well for me.

Author: Abby Melton

Just a girl taking down Paris, one chocolate éclair at a time.

4 thoughts

  1. Reblogged this on privateeyess and commented:
    Always wanted to go to France to receive my Masters degree. Being a first year student, I wasn’t aware of the differences. That’s actually really interesting!

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