The clink of glasses and the smell of garlic fill the senses as you walk into this house during the lunch hour. In the dining room, students and community members are sharing a meal with a twist: no one in the room is speaking a word of English.
La Maison Française, or the French House, is home to twenty students, both those studying French and native speakers. Julissa Oquendo x’13 lived there for a semester before she studied abroad in Paris. “I didn’t know I was so fluent until I came [to French House],” she says. “Mixing native speakers and interaction with French culture makes this a really special community.”
Andrew Irving MA’91, PhD’97, French House director, oversees French 301/302, a one-credit class for which students go to the house weekly for lunch. Colin Delannoy x’14 of Marseille, France, chose to live in the house to speak French and learn more about American culture, and he says that he loves the time he spends with fellow francophones and exploring the city.
Irving says that participating in lunches and conversation at the house is an effective complement to what’s taught in French classrooms. “I really enjoy seeing my students communicate in real-life situations,” he says. “Students have the unique opportunity to talk genuinely and follow where conversation takes them. It’s physically tiring at first, but seeing the students’ confidence in natural and spontaneous conversation by the end of the semester makes it all worth it.”