All about conversation sessions

Article last updated 11/09/2023

On this page you will find information about the running of our group conversation club sessions for Franco-PHONE level members in order to help you get comfortable before joining your first one.

Table of Contents

How big are the groups?

At present the maximum group size is 8 people and the minimum number is 3 for a session to go ahead.

Where do we meet?

On Zoom. When you book your spot for a given call, a link to the meeting will be sent to via email as well as a reminder 1 hour before.

How do we book?

The week preceding a conversation club week, 2 emails will be sent inviting you to book a spot for the following week.

It is premier arrivé, premier servi (first come, first served), and spots tend to go fast.

You can also book a session from the bottom of your CFSC Dashboard.

How long is a session?

75 minutes. If you need to drop out after 60 minutes that’s fine. Or even before. Just let us know by chat or before the call!

We tried 60 minutes but we always had too much to say 😂.

How does a session go?

Each session has a general theme such as La Rentrée (Back to school/work) and Les cafés et les restaurants. It is general so that you can personalise your experience as much as possible to get as much out of it as possible.

We like to stay flexible with session structures but to give a general idea:

  1. At the start of the week we post the session programme in Discord inside the #club-de-conversation channel, but also 24 hours before your scheduled session you’ll receive it by email.
  2. Once the session begins, we start off with a little chit chat while we wait for everyone who has signed up for the meeting to join.
  3. We then have an initial warm-up exercise that may or may not be in line with the theme of the week.
    1. If you don’t understand something and that I will use the chat for comments and corrections.
  4. For 10-15 minutes: We put you into pairs or small groups and you enter into a breakout room to speak with your partner(s) on a specific theme that we have chosen for the exercise. For example: The theme On fait connaissance You ask each other questions and answer them to get a bit more comfortable. Try and stay in French as much as possible but don’t worry if you need to use English. We often share some questions or prompts to help you keep the conversation flowing. These are shared via a Google document that we put in the chat.
  5. I will spend a few minutes in each breakout room to listen and correct and ask questions.
  6. After 10-15 minutes we will meet back in the main room to report back on our experience, before we then send you back into a breakout room with either the same partner or a new one to complete a new exercise on the same theme.
  7. For the last few minutes everyone (if they want) shares something they’ve learned or a question they have that didn’t get answered.

We do our best to keep doing what’s working and what people enjoy, as well as adapting to what students tell us they want to see next time.

What happens afterwards?

We write up the notes taken in the chat and any others that we find relevant and we post them on the session summaries page (opens in a new tab) along with the video replay of the session.

They will be live the same day or the day after if the session is held in the evening time in Europe.

We will notify you by email when they are ready.

Note: only the rooms that the teacher is in will be recorded. So, when you are working with a partner in a breakout room, this will only be recorded when the teacher is in your room.

Who leads the session?

Depending on the time slot that you book, your session will either be run by Alex or Joania. The name of the teacher for each session will be written in the emails inviting you to book.

What if I'm introverted and/or shy?

We have been told that our sessions are very introvert friendly. By spending most of your time in pairs or small groups, our hope is that you will have conversations that stimulate you.

As an introvert himself, Alex doesn’t like conversations that remain superficial. However, when learning to speak a foreign language, we do need to be willing to have small talk in order to get plenty of repetition of daily topics.

I'm not sure my level is good enough for a session yet

Besides saying that if it wasn’t a little scary then you wouldn’t be in the right place, you may be right! We recommend you check out this replay (opens in a new tab) of a previous session and see how much you understand.

Understanding my instructions is the most important thing in order to be able to participate. Don’t hesitate to tell your teacher that you’d like them to parler un peu plus doucement.

It’s important that you get practice asking people to repeat, saying that you don’t understand, or that you are stuck. These skills are essential in life in France and this is a safe space to practise them.

What if I'm a higher or lower level than the others?

We do our best to pair people of similar levels during the sessions, and the more sessions you attend the better we will know your strengths and weaknesses.

Whilst it’s not good to be paired with someone who has a lot more speaking experience than you or vice versa, and we try to avoid that, this hour/hour 15 is for you to practise your speaking and so if you have to simplify your French for your partner, that’s great practice too.

What should I do to maximise my results?

  1. PrĂ©pare-toi. Have a personal set of words or expressions that are important to you on your quest for proficiency. Unless they are very context-specific this will help ensure they are top of mind during your interactions, increasing the chances that you’ll notice an opportunity to get them out.
  2. Avoir de quoi noter (Have something to take notes with). Not so many that you lose track of the conversation. But some questions that come up while you’re speaking that you may want to ask me or your partner.
  3. Pratiquer entre les séances. Use your journal, use the challenges in Discord, complete J.A.M. sessions, but in general use the the language you want to retain from the sessions in writing and speaking.
  4. RĂ©sumer la sĂ©ance toi-mĂȘme. Summarise the session yourself afterwards for 5 to 10 minutes. This will hugely increase vocabulary and grammar retention, not to mention help you hold on to memorable moments from the session and increase enjoyment.
  5. Sinon (other than that), just show up consistently and you will see results.

What's the cancellation policy?

We know that things come up that we didn’t expect, and so it is possible to cancel or reschedule.

All sessions are finalised and locked in the Saturday preceding the week of the sessions.

If you need to reschedule, you can do so any time before Saturday via the Reschedule button in either your confirmation or reminder emails (see the next section for an image).

Past this point, you may email to request a new session time. However, we cannot guarantee that you will be able to reschedule, as we must guarantee that a session has a minimum of 3 attendees in order for it to go ahead.

So, if your session has fewer than 3 people without you there, we will ask you to do your best to attend the original session to ensure the best experience for all.

Any session having fewer than 3 registered students on after Saturday is likely to be cancelled. However it is at the teacher’s discretion to decide.

We will do our best to reallocate the student or students who signed up for the cancelled session but of course this does depend on availability.

What if I need to reschedule?

If you book a spot on a conversation session and then find you’d prefer another, please use the Reschedule feature of Calendly (our booking service).

Tout en bas (At the very bottom) of your session booking confirmation email you’ll see options to Replanifier (Reschedule) and Annuler (Cancel). Click the one that makes the most sense. It’ll make the team’s life easier.

Note that you may not be able to reschedule this way if it’s past the deadline (see the cancellation policy above).

Here’s what those links look like in your email:

Merci beaucoup de ta compréhension !

N'ai-je pas répondu à ta question ?

Désolé !

You can head over to Discord and ask it in the #club-de-conversation channel. That link will take you straight there.

You said that a lot of people use a translation app, and I was wondering, is that recommended to do that so I can learn words or is it better to do as much as I can from the top of my head? (37:06)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (37:06) for the full answer.

Are your conversation sessions at set times every week or varied? (42:35)

  • Pretty consistent but subject to slight changes every time.

What's the best way to type accents on a Windows English keyboard? Best configuration? (43:40)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (43:40) for the full answer.

What do you think is the best translator? (50:53)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (50:53) for the full discussion.

Are you YouTube videos listed on your website? How can I see them all? (54:50)

  • At the moment the best way is to go to my channel’s home page, click on the Videos tab, and order by Most Popular or Most Recent.
  • New videos get added to Discord and are released early to the CFSC.

How do conversation classes work? (58:10)

  • Announcing them, reserving a spot, how many you get, reminders, notes, replay. Full answer at the timestamp above.

Do you have a recommendation on the amount of hours to spend on French and also what to focus on apart from the class you are getting? Because probably I could also work on vocabulary and maybe some other things. What do you recommend? (1:00:35)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (1:00:35) for the full answer.

Is there an age limit? How old is your youngest student on CFSC? (1:04:53)

  • I think the youngest person is around 30.

How are grammar and writing practice integrated into the program? Obviously it's firstly a speaking program. (1:05:45)

  • Watch the video at the timestamp (1:05:45) for the full answer.

How to get support. (1:15:51)

  • Leave a question in cfsc-feedback over in Discord.
  • If it’s personal do private message me but a lot of time answers are useful for the group.

Could there be a section in Discord on podcasts? (1:18:51)

  • Yes. I will create one!

Jim mentioned George. Who is George?. (1:21:55)

  • One of our amazing founding members.
  • Very active in Discord, always stretching himself to write and have fun sharing with others.

The thread icon against a text channel icon / What are threads? / How to create threads in a channel? (Video timestamp 41:53)

  • Threads are a way to continue a discussion in a text channel away from the main conversation.
  • Create one by hovering over a message and clicking the # icon.
  • Watch the replay from around 42:35.
  • Tutorial exists in the Discord Tutorials section.

What will the format be of the conversation classes during and after the 3 months? (47:39)

  • Conv classes won’t change format because they don’t correspond to specific parts of the course curriculum. They are every 2 weeks. and you should us them to build a routine involving speaking.
  • Discord will show different areas dedicated to the course material as access opens up.

How should I use DeepL/other translators in conjunction with Discord? (52:45)

  • Using a translator doesn’t mean copy/pasting the text into what you’re writing.
  • Use it to keep your mind thinking about French vocab and structure and then manually rewrite what you find into your message/post.
  • Heather gave tips 58:52 to 1:00:13 in the video.

How to get support? (1:06:47)

  • Primarily, create a pot in the #cfsc-feedback-channel
  • For the course modules there will be a dedicated questions channel.
  • My hours at 9am to 6pm CET. You’ll get a reply within 24 hours.

How big are the conversation class groups? What is recorded? (1:13:37)

  • Max 8 people.
  • New agenda for each class, sent 24 hours before a session.
  • Sessions have people split into groups of 2 or 3.
  • Only parts where I am present are recorded by Zoom.
  • Could potentially allow students to record too.

How to get to the class notes? (1:16:38)

  • An email is sent after your class when the notes are ready.
  • Or go to the bototm or your Dashboard and click the link RĂ©sumĂ©s des cours.

How to view the class replay? (1:21:37)

  • Click the link (now a more visible button) on the webpage containing the notes.

Discord can be overwhelming

  • There’s no rush to get used to it. Take your time. Watch the tutorials. Read as much as you like to get a feel for it.
  • Channels with new messages are highlighted in white.
  • A red badge is added when it needs more attention.