Last summer, in early August, in a little French beach village called Beaulieu-sur-mer (which literally means “beautiful place on the beach”), I hosted my first Mindful French Retreat with my eager and curious participants. But what made 5 people cross the world to spend a week together?
“Transformative” “Life-changing” “An incredible week”.
This is what you could have overheard at the typical Southern French cuisine restaurant where we had our last meal together. We were all smiling, avoiding to tear up as we were saying goodbye. Five strangers, almost. Who became five friends, living an incredible adventure together.
As I’m preparing to launch registrations for the next Mindful French Retreat in 2020 in Québec, and after tons of requests on Instagram, today I’m telling you all about language retreats, and why you should join one too.
What a language retreat is not
- A language retreat is not a boring intensive course. You won’t be sitting in a classroom of 15 students learning about the language, drilling grammar and vocab exercises. Instead, you focus on communication first.
- A language retreat is not a touristic language trip. It is not a touristic holiday where you check off things from a “to-see” list, quickly running from one place to the next. Instead, you slow down, blend in and savour the new places you see, the new dishes you taste and the new smiles you meet.
- Finally, a language retreat is not a club med stay in which you can choose from a list of one-size fits all activities by the pool or at the tennis court. Instead, you’re in for an adventure that was designed for you by your dedicated and passionate teacher.
Language Retreats: a Definition
A language retreat is typically organised by passionate independent teachers who design a unique experience for an intimate group of learners. Together, they explore and live the language in an authentic way. Far from the textbooks, far from the language classroom setting, far from the anxiety or “performing” in the language…
Usually, this includes
- A complete immersion in the language you’re learning;
- Authentic and spontaneous conversations: you speak, eat, drink, walk, shop, read, think and dream in your target language;
- Specially designed discoveries about the culture of the place you’re visiting.
4 Reasons Language Retreats Are So Effective
- During a retreat, you “retreat”. It means you are outside of your daily life, in a relaxing little bubble far away from your usual responsibilities. and you experience a moment just for yourself. Nothing to worry about but yourself and your language practice.
- Being with a group of like-minded people and a teacher you trust and appreciate makes you want to communicate. This encourages you to leave your comfort zone and your inhibitions back home, and create a connection with your group, with the language, and ultimately, with yourself.
- As with any beautiful travelling experiences, you will live a lot of strong emotions. And emotions enhance memory. Therefore, the words, expressions structures you will hear and learn during your language retreat will stick!
- One week, 6 or 7 days, at least 72 hours of French. Need I say more?
How I had the Idea of a Mindful French Retreat
I had already organised a few language trips in the past, especially to the UK, but one of my most memorable experiences with languages and travels was in Rome back in 2014. After feeling somewhat disconnected from my Italian practice, during this trip, I completely fell in love with the language and the culture. This completely transformed me, as if I had connected to a new part of my soul, allowing me to rediscover the love for the language, the culture and the people.
In September 2018, I discovered a group of women in Vietnam, called “Chicks Club”, who would meet every other Sunday for a full 5 hours of wellness and conversation. That’s when I thought: “What if I could gather a group of French learners to spend a week together, speak French all the time, and take care of themselves through mindfulness”.
The Mindful French Retreat was born.