2018 Summer Internship Series: Greg Fischer, Elly Reserva, and Amr Ali’s French Language Immersion

IPED Arrupe Fellow Greg Fischer and Language Immersion Study Award Recipients Elly Reserva and Amr Ali all spent their Summer 2018 in different parts of France for an intensive study of the French language and culture. The three IPED students studied through Alliance Française, an international organization that aims to promote French language and culture around the world. The institution offers daily three-hour intensive language courses, complemented with various cultural activities and immersive experiences.

Greg Fischer in Grenoble

Greg’s class in Grenoble consisted of 7 to 10 students from all over the world (US, Brazil, Australia, Switzerland, Colombia, Hong Kong, South Korea, Venezuela). The instructor brought years of experience from teaching French in East Asia through Alliance Française. Greg arranged a long-term stay through AirBnB which allowed him to use his host to practice his French and continue his immersive experience away from the classroom.

Greg with his classmates


Greg said “A long term immersive experience such as studying French requires you to recreate your daily routine in a different language. That’s invaluable. Having to rely on the language you’re learning enables a greater internalization of the material being used in class.” The diversity of France was on full display in the neighborhood where he stayed; he lived in a neighborhood with a high population of West Africa immigrants and passed through the Tunisia and Algerian stores in order to get to class every day.

Greg and Amr in France

The timing of studying French was also ideal for Greg who was able to watch much of the 2018 World Cup outside of the classroom. It was always easy to find a large public place with a large crowd to watch a French National team game en route to their World Cup victory (unfortunately Greg left France before the final). As an avid fan, coach, and player, the World Cup served as an easy way to bond with other French fans.

Learning French with IPED was a worthwhile experience for Greg. The summer immersion experience with Alliance Française offers a wealth of learning experiences for all beginners, intermediate, and advanced students. The courses are intensive and the opportunities for immersion are boundless. While learning a new language is not a simple or easy process, Greg feels that he got the strong foundation he needed to build upon his language skills.

Elly Reserva in Lyon

Elly’s choice to study French in Lyon was influenced in part by its identity of being France’s gastronomy capital and its reputation of being a student-friendly city. The size of the city itself was perfect for her too, saying that “it was not too huge that it overwhelmed someone like me who’s a first-timer in France, and not too small that I always had something to do after class to continue the French immersion—most of which involved exploring the different Bouchon Lyonnais (restaurants that serve the traditional Lyon cuisine).”

At a bouchon lyonnais, about to feast on Andouillettes de Lyon

Like Greg, Elly’s class was small, composed of students from different parts of the world with different backgrounds and motivations for studying French. The fact that the classes are small allowed them to have enough time to actively participate in class. Alliance Française conducts a placement test before courses start to match and group students at the right level. However, the school organizes various activities so that students from various levels get to interact with one another.

On their last day, the French professor brought cheese to class, while each student brought little somethings from their country for a mini feast!

Elly stayed with a host family throughout her stay in Lyon. Her host family complemented her learning in school by including her in the day-to-day family activities, giving her a closer look to the French traditions and customs. “I couldn’t have asked for a better host family. They made my study of French successful, and my stay in Lyon truly memorable. I still exchange e-mails with them regularly, and I hope I can keep it up.”

Elly’s farewell dinner prepared by her host family. Au revoir!

After the summer language immersion, Elly intends to continue learning French to prepare her for a career in International Development.

At the Ancient Roman Theatres with an overlooking view of Lyon

Amr Ali in Toulouse

Amr’s decision for applying to LISA was influenced by his passion to learn new languages, in addition to the importance of speaking French in pursuing a career in International Development. Located at the south of France, Toulouse, was a perfect choice for Amr. The city is one of France’s most historic cities counts two of UNESCO World Heritage Sites. It’s a very small and walkable city with elegant buildings and unique architecture. Most of the buildings are made of pinkish bricks, which earned it the name “La Ville Rose” (The Pink City). Amr said, “Toulouse offered a very friendly atmosphere to learn a new language. Although it was a small city, I was able to do different activities which helped me to practice French. Also, the location was great and enabled me to explore different parts of France.”

Amr with his classmates

Like Greg and Elly, the class size was small (10-12 students) which ensured the interaction and participation in class. In addition, Alliance Francaise offered lots of activities such as cooking, singing, and visiting Toulouse’s landmarks such as the headquarter of Airbus. These activities ensured the continuance of the immersion nature and acquiring varied range of vocabularies in different aspects of life. Unlike Greg, Amr was lucky to celebrate France’s World Cup victory and to witness the country’s celebrations.

At the Airbus headquarter during Alliance Francaise trip

Alliance Francaise helped Amr to stay with a host family which helped him to practice French and continue the immersion nature. The LISA experience was remarkable for Amr; “I couldn’t ask for a better summer and learning experience,” he said.

At the Calanque de Marseille while exploring France with Greg