CIEF stands for: Centre Internationale d'Études Français
It's a program specifically designed for international people (students or not) who want to learn the French language. There are differing levels, differing intensities and a variety of classes to compliment the basics.
It's a great way to get a student visa, a great way to enter into France (without having to really know French). I can speak very well, I know a lot of vocabulary and I can live here without a hitch.. but they offer all levels for different types of people.
If you were looking for a way to enter into France to study.. or maybe even prepare to go to university here (it's free) following completion of the CIEF.. it's a wonderful thing. I inscribed in January, got an acceptance by February... and was able to get my student visa that way, through this program.
You start with a big round of testing, the first is a written test (they give two subjects, you write on it), the second is an oral test (you sit with a professor for about 10 minutes and describe a random subject) and the final a computer test (which is a combination hearing/reading understanding test). This takes about a week.
I took the tests and got into a B1- which means I rocked something, then screwed up something else. I find it to be my writing capabilities as well as my grammar... I speak very well, understand great.. but damn those French grammatical rules. I was aiming for a B2, but I knew that I had weak points in my writing.
The levels of the CIEF look like this:
A1 - You know not one word of french or french structure, you usually say, "bonjour"... that's all.
A2 - You can make simple phrases, maybe use the present tense of verbs, get around France
B1 - You are able to speak to people and be understood, but you mess up in structure or rules
B2 - You are able to speak, understand and maybe your structure rocks- but you need to know some more complicated French verbs
C1 - You can live in France no problem, it's simply a class to improve your linguistic abilities and expand on your current knowledge.
C2 - You probably are looking to become a teacher in French.
After you get your level, you get a schedule.. mine looks like this:
So I have about 3-6 hours total of grammaire/written lessons, about 1.5 hours of oral practice, 1.5 hours of 'familiar french' which is slang, 1.5 hours of business French...
It's about 17 hours a week.. which is pretty intense.. but it's definitely worth it to sit and hear French continuously throughout the day.
I am doing the semi-intensif program, which is about €1020, and 210 hours a term. The other option is €1300 or so a term and it's about 20 more hours.
My classes are going well so far.. I find them a bit easy- but there are some classes that are very beneficial in this level.. like the slang class or the business class... plus tons and tons of grammar.
I'd recommend it!
Here's the website for more information: CIEF Website