PacoElDelMolino
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example: 4 yr french degree with a year abroad in France. Would that be better than moving to france at 18 after completing french A level and just working, whether it be teaching english or something else? Your views?
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russellsteapot
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It depends what you mean by better, and what you hope to achieve.

You'd end up speaking better French if you moved there.

You'd have better qualifications and probably more options if you did a degree.
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xmarilynx
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I moved to France straight after my A Levels and think it really depends on your commitment and the amount of work you put in. There seems to be a common misconception that you can "pick a language up" just by living there, which is in my opinion only true if you are very young and still at school.

In my opinion if you move to the country it's really important to follow a language course, at least at first, so that you learn the language correctly. I know one person who moved to France after their A Levels and worked as a waitress. She understands extremely well but can only really do "conversational" French and makes a lot of mistakes. Her written French is now IMO below A Level standard because she's not written anything longer than a text message in France since her A Levels 5 years ago.

Whereas another friend of mine who studied French and Spanish at UCL was excellent at French even right at the beginning of her year abroad. She had learnt the theory in class at uni, and practised in with Frenchies she had met in London. After one week in Paris she spoke better French than most of the ex-pats I knew who had been there for years.

I think without studying it at university you have no structure, so if you do go to France you need to structure your own learning and keep yourself motivated.
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superwolf
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Totally agree with Marilyn. I did a gap year in Chile, and came out with amazing spoken Spanish, but I was semi-illiterate because my job hadn't involved more than basic reading and writing. It's great living abroad, and you can get a lot out of it, but don't expect it to work by magic!

Also, remember that a language degree isn't just about learning the language itself. You've got history, culture, politics, translation etc. that you can learn about and specialise in, and the degree itself shows that you're capable of higher study, commitment to your studies, and ability to write a dissertation (although that's not always compulsory).

So yeah, decide what you want: spoken/written skills, interesting experiences, learning about culture etc... and go from there.
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buttoned.up
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It's also worth noting that often a French degree doesn't quite match the standard/prestige of a British degree. From my experience living in France, it seems that most jobs in France that we'd consider graduate jobs in the UK require a masters. Studying in France, I found (and so did all my friends) that the courses didn't come anywhere near the level of courses we were studying in England; it was much more like being at school. At one point in my year abroad I studied final year Italian at the University of Bordeaux: I definitely found the level of Italian being taught lower than that being taught in my first year at UCL. Also, it's worth noting that there's less of a culture of going away from home to study at university: most of my classmates when studying abroad were local, many still living at home. There are halls, but there's not necessarily the same student lifestyle and independence that you might get in the UK. Also, French universities don't necessarily do clubs and societies in the same way as British universities.

Mind you, it is worth serious consideration I think, especially financially. Also, it's worth thinking about how you'd find moving abroad aged 18 - while France isn't very far, the distance can feel difficult if you get homesick/have a family emergency etc.

Get in touch if you want any further advice - I studied French & Italian at UCL, spent my summers working in France, and then spent my year abroad studying in Bordeaux and then Bologna, so have a reasonably amount of expertise about living in France and studying languages!
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