Montpellier Summer

Study and Volunteer Service in the South of France...mais oui!

Students will be immersed in French culture in Montpellier, a 1,000 year-old city located in the Languedoc region of temperate and friendly southern France that has long been a crossroads for European, Mediterranean and North African culture and civilizations. Students will spend a semester studying French language, culture, civilization, and social issues  at the Institut Méditerranéen de Langues/Services (IMLS).  Courses in French language are taught at five different levels, from beginning to advanced. Additonal cultural courses are available along with the  service-learning courses.

In addition to studies, students live with a French family, serve 10–12 hours per week in a local agency, and explore the region through excursions. The volunteer service immerses participants in the culture and deepens your understanding of French society and increases French language acquisition.

Bustling with French and international students, the university city of Montpellier has a historic inner medieval center, modern businesses and shopping, and a typical central plaza with theatres and sidewalk cafés where much of the life of the city takes place. In the area nearby are Neolithic sites, Roman settlements, walled medieval towns, the beaches of the Mediterranean, and the ecological and wildlife treasure known as the Camargue. Montpellier is a short trip to Barcelona and the gateway to Spain.

Where you'll stay in Montpellier

You live in a homestay with a French family, who provides your breakfast and dinner and introduces you to French family life. An integral part of the program, the homestay offers you the opportunity to make life-long friends, reinforce language skills, and experience the culture from "the inside." Host families are carefully selected and experienced with hosting students.

Program Director:  Ms. Veronique Martin


Applicants should have a minimum of 2 years of high school French or one year of college French. The program welcomes students of any nation.

Horse Statue


The program is based at the Institut Méditerranéen de Langues/Services (IMLS). You will take two required courses and cultural and/or additional language electives  for a total of 6 credits. Students advanced in French may also audit, with the permission of the resident Program Director, some courses at Université Paul Valéry.  A transcript for all courses is issued by the Institut Méditerranéen de Langues/Services (IMLS) and/or the U.S based academic school of record upon successful completion of the program. Unless otherwise noted, courses are at the 300 level except for any foreign language course which will vary.

French Language

Students are tested and placed in intensive language classes according to their ability. Levels range from elementary to advanced.
Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3

Level II - Elementary

This is the logical continuation of Level I and can be defined as a first intermediary level. It is designed for students who already attended at least 200 hours of French language courses or who have acquired a similar basic competence through immersion. The general objectives follow up on those of Level I. They aim at reinforcing acquired skills: verbal, fluency and grammatical writing are the main objectives of the teaching program based on a communicative approach adapted to everyday-life situations. The curriculum consists of:

  • Oral French: Comprehension, Expression, Phonetics
  • Written French: Grammar, Comprehension, Expression
  • Language laboratory work

Level III - Intermediate

This level is for students who have already attended more than 400 hours of French classes. The curriculum consists of:

  • Oral French: Comprehension, Phonetics, Expression, Speech
  • Written French: Comprehension and Expression, Spelling, Grammar

Level IV - Proficient

Level IV classes are based on the permanent interaction of communicative, linguistic and cultural objectives in order to promote the comprehension of the French socio-cultural environment. Various fields of competence are stressed. The curriculum consists of:

  • Oral French: Comprehension and Expression, Media Language, Phonetics, Specificity of Oral French
  • Written French: Comprehension, Expression, Grammar

Level V - Advanced

This level is intended for students who have already attended 750 to 800 hours of French classes. The curriculum consists of:

  • Grammar
  • Practice of Oral and Written Speech

Institutions in French Society

Examines the major issues confronting French society, and the way these issues are addressed by institutions, associations, and NGOs. Using your service agency as a case study, you will analyze the agency’s mission, history, and governance, the socio-economic background of the clientele, and its role in relation to the political, cultural, social, and economic conditions of the larger society.

Contact Hours: 45
Recommended U.S. Credits: 3 City-scape


You will serve 10–12 hours per week in one or two service agencies, encountering France’s particular system of social services and practicing your French in the community. You might:

  • serve as an aid or tutor for disabled persons
  • assist in education or recreation at a rehabilitation center for children
  • tutor in English at the Institut St Pierre and high schools as a placement service
  • assist in a center providing social services for the underprivileged
  • help with stocking, sorting, and redistribution of food at a food bank
  • work with specialists in psychiatry and social care in a social rehabilitation center
  • work with an occupational therapist at a retirement home

Volunteer Service Examples

Following are examples of agencies where students have served in the past or may be able to serve. Other service placements may be available. Your placement will be determined by community and agency needs, as well as your interests, goals, and skills.

ASSOCIATION DES PARALYSES DE France (Association for handicapped people)

The APF is a nationally recognized non-profit association for people crippled by motor deficiencies and other physical disabilities.

The role of the foreign students is to meet with handicapped people so as to break the solitude in which the handicapped often find themselves, which is due in many ways to their exclusion by society.

Among the requests we have received are some for tutoring in English, in computer programming, researching information inaccessible to the handicapped, as well as accompanying them on outings or even just making them feel their value as human beings.

Population Served: People with motor deficiencies and other physical disabilities
Areas of Service: Companionship / Disabilities / Recreation / Research


Students help with the stocking, sorting and redistribution of food.

Population Served: All
Areas of Service: Emergency Relief

INSTITUT SAINT PIERRE (Rehab center for children)

The Institute is a private non-profit hospital center.

The students work on two projects at the Institute: one is based on education (except in Summer) and the other on recreation. The students performing community service assist the teachers in charge of education and contribute to the tutoring of the students in English

Population Served: Children in rehabilitation
Areas of Service: Children & Youth / Education / ESL


The centers provide several services for the underprivileged such as meals, urgent medical care, distribution of clothes and shoes, as well as rehabilitation through professional training, etc.

Population Served: Underprivileged persons
Areas of Service: Food services/distribution / Healthcare / Social services

La PROVIDENCE (Retirement home)

Students work with an occupational therapist. And participate in recreation activities, games and spocialization and outings for the elderly.

Population Served: Older persons
Areas of Service: Elderly / Therapy

RECTORAT (Tutoring during the academic year)

The students participate in a tutoring program for children and high school students. They usually assist English teachers with conversation classes, tutoring and homework, proniunciation and introduction to their home country and culture.

Population Served: Underprivileged high school students
Areas of Service: ESL (English as a second language)


The association provides several services for the underprivileged such as a meal service, ermergency care and support. Students help with the tutoring of high school students, help in the community center and prepare and distribute food baskets.

Population Served: High school students
Areas of Service: Education

ARTISANS DU MONDE (Fair Trade Products)

This association imports arts and craft products from independent, ethically -minded producers from the developing world. The retail shop sells products such as jewelry, clothing, housewares and other fair-trade gifts.

Population Served: Independent artisans from developing nations in Peru, India, Laos, Vietnam and other countries
Areas of Service: Fair Trade artisan support


This association provides clothing, food and computer education. Students participarte in the preparation of food baskets and distribution of clothing as well as tehnology education workshops.

Population Served: People in need
Areas of Service: Emergency relief/education

IML (Language Education)

This language Institute offers multiple language instruction. Students participarte in conversation workshops for people of all ages to improve their language skills.

Population Served: People of all ages and all languages
Areas of Service: Education


Things to do

Excursions are an important supplement to the classes, introducing you to the region's architectural heritage, landscape, and cultural sites. A tour of Montpellier is arranged during the first week. Additional excursions to historic sites around Montpellier and the region are organized every month and may include visits to:

  • The nearby Roman cities of Nîmes and Arles
  • The medieval walled city of Avignon, home of the Palace of the Popes and the famous Pont d'Avignon
  • St Guilhem-Le- Désert et l'Ermitage, a legendary village at the heart of a preserved valley and the site of the Gellone Abbey, a jewel of Romanesque architecture
  • Carcassonne, one of the most extravagant fortresses in all of Europe
  • Sommières market and le Pont du Gard, a magnificent aqueduct, built towards the end of the first century B.C.
  • Les Baux de Provence, one of the most beautiful villages in France, and Cathédrale d'images, a unique art center in a limestone quarry
  • Les Baux de Provence, one of the most beautiful villages in France, and Cathédrale d'images, a unique art center in a limestone quarry Aigues-Mortes, the 13th-century city in the heart of the Camargue, from which Louis IX (St. Louis) set out on his first crusade in 1248
  • Château de Flaugergues, built in the 17th century and surrounded by magnificent gardens.
Notre Dame
AFSNext seal of approval

This program is implemented by a trusted organization within the AFSNext partnership community and has our full endorsement. While not managed or operated by AFS, it maintains the same exceptional quality standards, which are set by a network of experienced international non-profits operating within the international education field.