FRENCH lessons are no longer about the classroom for a group of people who are learning the language in cafes.

Coffee Time French is the brainchild of Chloe Wilson, who reasoned that people could be happier learning the language in informal settings.

She grew up in Bournemouth and lived in Provence for four years before returning home, where she set up the business with her own former French teacher, Marie Sorge.

Their first Coffee Time French drew only two people to Velo Domestique coffee shop in Southbourne . “Then we got the idea of six-week courses,” she said.

The sessions grew and there are now 50 students taking part in Coffee Time French and the business’s other courses.

Their aim is to cater for everyone from total beginners to those who can already jump into a conversation in French.

“My job is to make people feel at ease,” said Chloe.

“The first week, they won’t say anything, or they might say a few words. When they get to know each other, they find it easier.

“Everyone’s got a personal story about their school, the teacher. You can bring all that to the table. A huge part of the job is to make people feel good.”

As week as Coffee Time French, offering six-week courses in the daytime for £60, there is Apero Time French, consisting of six weeks in the evenings at £90 including drinks, and Wine Time French – tastings which are held three times a year and build on language skills and knowledge of wine.

The pair have also introduced Rambling French, which involves people walking from Bournemouth towards Boscombe while conducting conversations.

“You walk with one person and they might be better than you at French, but you can help them. Then you change partners and walk back,” said Chloe.

Marie Sorge is originally from Burgundy but has lived in the UK for 20 years. She worked as an information manager but tutored Chloe ahead of her GCSEs.

She said the cafe environment was all-important. “We’re at the same level as them around the table,” she said.

“The classes will all start with chit-chat. By the end, people are very relaxed. The surrounding sound can be negative but it can also be helpful when they make a mistake.”

As well as Velo Domestique, events take place at the Shelley Theatre and Cliff House Hotel. The success of the event has encouraged the pair to plan Coffee Time Spanish courses.