Free French Class Program

The registration period is from August 1st to August 31st 2018. Please come back within this time frame to apply.

From September to the end of June, Saint-Esprit offers free French lessons on Sunday mornings from 9am to 10am and 10 am to 11 am in classrooms at 109 East 60th Street, next door to the church.

Yes, these French classes really are free! We have offered this as a service to our fellow New Yorkers since 1884. If you are accepted in our classes, we only ask that you purchase your textbook (click here to access the Amazon page of the book we currently use). The session of French Classes this year is held from Sunday September 16th 2018 to June 23rd 2019.

An introduction by the Rev. Nigel Massey


[Please, note that the levels have changed (updated 07/18/2018]

Common questions and answers:

  • Can I just register? There is an application process. You will be registered only if your application is accepted. The acceptance rate is 20% or less every year.
  • Which class should I apply for? Please, read through each class description, the requirements are clearly stated and you should be able to know if you qualify.
  • What if I apply to the wrong class? You cannot change level once you applied. This is unfortunately due to some students trying in previous years to apply to classes in lesser-demand level only to not meet the requirements and ask to be put in the beginner level. In our best effort to keep the application process fair for everyone, we ask you to take your time and make sure you meet the requirements before you apply. You have the whole month of August to figure it out. Take your time. Applications are not time sensitive.
  • How do you select students? The test for each level is designed to make sure you will be able to follow through our lesson plan and are motivated enough to take the time to study on your own and commit to attending. However, there is still a chance factor because of the great number of applications we receive every year. To put it in perspective, we receive on average 1,500 applications every year. We try to accommodate about 300 students while our classes are best fitted to teach about 200 students. This is only a 20% acceptance rate. So even if 50% of the applicants get a perfect score, we will still have to draw the amount of students we can accommodate.
  • I applied for several years and never got in, can I get a special pass? Unfortunately, this is the case of many prospective students and we cannot make any exception. Even if we were to accept every student who applied for 3 years in a row without getting in, we would not have enough room for everyone. If you don't get in this year, please, try again next year.


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Beginner Level

Who should apply?

People who have no knowledge of French grammar. But also people who refer to their French knowledge this way: "I took some French in...", "I know some French..." If these are sentences you would have used to decide which level you should apply for, the Beginner level is most likely for you. The reason is that it is very important to perfectly know the basics. Without a safe grammar and spelling foundation, you will most likely stall and feel frustrated. Every year we see students who think they should apply for the Intermediate level or even conversation, but they do not have the qualifications. Please, refer to the "Who should apply?" section of other levels and make sure you KNOW the requirements.


Frédéric: I was born and raised in Paris, France. I graduated in Applied Foreign Languages from the university of Paris West University Nanterre while completing my last year at San José State University (CA). I am the Parish Administrator at Saint-Esprit and therefore you will hear mostly from me on administrative matters.

Philippe: Philippe is a native French speaker and French citizen. He was a business manager working in the cosmetic ingredient business until he retired a couple of years ago to explore new career opportunities. He was born in the United Kingdom to French speaking parents and educated at the French Lycée in London. As a child, he would spend the long summer breaks in France, either in Burgundy, Poitou-Charentes or Aquitaine with his relatives, exploring the landscape and culinary culture!

About the class

The Beginner level is following a steady fast pace. This means that you are expected to spend time on your homework during the week. It is our experience that 1h a week of French in class is only enough if you spend at least 2h a week at home working on your homework. Please, be aware of this before applying. There will be competitive tests throughout the year. Passing grades are expected to continue the course.

What is expected of students

To attend class, be on time, and participate. You are expected to know the previous week's lesson when you come to class (study) and have done your homework.

Intermediate and Intermediate+ with introduction to conversation

Who should apply?

People who KNOW how to conjugate and spell all most common verbs using these tenses in the indicative and imperative modes: passé-composé, imparfait, recent past (venir de + infinitive), present, near future (aller + infinitive). A good knowledge of French basic vocabulary is expected, along with correct spelling.


Nigel: I'm the Rector (Priest) of St. Esprit, where I have been working for almost twenty years.  Before coming to America I lived and worked in Paris and London after graduating from Birmingham University (UK) and Oxford University (UK) in Ancient Egyptian, Theology, Ministry and Islamic Studies.

About the classes

10am only (Intermediate): Our basic text will the same book as Léon's class (Ultimate French, Random House). We will quickly start by reviewing the passé composé and the imperfect, and move on to study the compound tenses, the future and the subjunctive. Grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary and conversation exercises will often be taught through supplementary handouts and audio-visual materials.

9am only (Intermediate+ with introduction to conversation): This class will be the intermediate class with some emphasis on beginning to converse in French.

What he expects of his students

Consistency in attending the classes, as we frequently build on materials from previous weeks to speed up conversation proficiency.  Complete sentences in replying to questions (not just "Oui" or "Non" !) And not to forget to bring previous weeks' handouts to the class!Conversation - Immersion

Conversation (10am only)

Who should apply?

Ceux qui parlent français courrament. (Knowledge of French will be tested before the classes start. You will not be able to go to another class if you are not accepted.)


TBD: Il y aura plusieurs professeurs qui feront des discussion thématiques. Un agenda des classes et professeurs sera préparé avant le début des classes.

About the class

Cette classe est pour ceux qui parlent français courrament, mais il est possible d'expliquer quelque chose en anglais si cela est nécessaire. L'anglais doit être un dernier recours et évité le plus possible. Les sujets changeront selon les professeurs au cours de l'année.

What is expected of students

Ponctualité et participation. Tout le monde doit parler et participer.

Conversation Immersion (10am only)

Who should apply?

Ceux qui parlent français courrament. (Knowledge of French will be tested before the classes start. You will not be able to go to another class if you are not accepted.)


Kathleen: Paroissienne de Saint-Esprit avant l'arrivée du Rev. Nigel Massey. J'apprécie d'avoir l'occasion de fournir l'ooportunité à mes étudiants d'améliorer leurs compétences en français. Je travaille actuellement en conformité juridique, où j'uttilise mes compétences en français, italien, et espagnol.

About her class

Nous ne parlons QUE LE FRANÇAIS. Nous discutons de sujets choisis par les étudiants allant de la musique pop francophone aux expériences de la vie actuelle de nos étudiants.

What she expects of her students

J'attend de mes étudiants qu'ils soient investis (participent en classe, aident à ranger avant et après la classe, ...), et qu'ils participent au choix des sujets discutés.