French Flows Like a Dance- Interview with Oceane- French Teacher

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Which part of France are you from?

I am from a small city in the North of France called Saint Amand les Eaux, close to Lille.

Did you always know that you wanted to be a French teacher?

It’s funny actually how teaching became my life purpose without me even noticing. My mom was a teacher, and I originally never wanted to become one, as I was seeing all the drawbacks of the job. But when I was 16, I became a French and Mathematics tutor for the younger kids of my neighborhood.

Then, when I was 20, I became a diving instructor as I was completely in love with scuba diving (and still am).  I wanted to transmit my love for this amazing activity to the greatest number of people I could. And teaching was a great way to do so.

After that, when I arrived in Vancouver in 2016, I started my business of teaching French classes online and on-site. I could see there was a big love for the French culture on the West Coast, and it was quite inspiring to help lead and support that.

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Do you teach students of all ages?

Yes, I do teach to students of all ages. I usually like working with students who are over 11 years old, and I especially like working with adults. I find that by those ages, learning French is a real choice made by the student, and not an obligation forced by parents or a school.

I love your video on your website. I can already feel your passion for teaching through that, and have witnessed your charisma in person. I can just imagine how fun and interactive your lessons are. What do you think makes your classes more appealing than other language classes?

I think the major plus of my classes is how much I really do care. I do care that my students get what is being taught, and that they improve and succeed. I make this commitment to them and to myself, because I know how vulnerable it can feel to learn a language. And I want to provide a safe learning environment and a comfortable space in which my students can develop their skills and feel supported.

As a language coach, my aim is to have people feeling great when they learn with me. That’s why the name of my program is “Have Fun Learning French,” because it should be fun. I believe you remember things better if you have fun and if you work on things that truly interest you. Sometimes, you have to learn some things by heart, but even then, you can still turn it into a game.

I like that you do this with adults as well. Sometimes, I think people forget that adults needs play and fun to learn better too.

Yes, and this is particulary important when learning a language. Because at school, you learn French by the book- the conventional French. But most French people use slang ninety percent of the time. So after learning French in a regular school, people are able to express themselves in well-put together sentences.

But when those same people arrive in France for holidays or business, they are completely lost because the French people around them speak with words they have never heard of. They wouldn’t learn this in a regular school. So I do teach slang in my class and a lot of cultural facts. Understanding how a culture works is already half of the lesson learned and makes a big difference.

I am really impressed by your confidence and wide range of interests at such a young age. Where do you think this confidence comes from?

As an extrovert, I have always been used to speaking in public and communicating with others. It gives you confidence when you do it a greater number of times.

So do you think you have always been this way?

I think it developed even more from my experience on the road. I did travel a lot and lived in different countries since I was a little kid. Problem solving when you travel is part of your daily routine. After solving a lot of different problems, you gain confidence in your ability to face the unknown and adapt. Sometimes you even feel invincible as you get out of complicated and tough situations. I’m young, but I am already counting a lot of amazing experiences that have been put in my “life bag”, and this has humbled me. I feel a deep joy from this because I believe these experiences make me a better teacher too.

That’s a great answer!  I think you can inspire others to feel invincible too. I like how you can see the connections between your life experience and your teaching ability.

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Speaking of connections, I was curious if you think your dancing experience has influenced your teaching in any ways. Do you see any connections between the two?

I see both dancing and the French language as a continuous flow. I usually say the French language is a little stream that runs down the valley. It’s all round and every word is linked to the other. It’s a beautiful flow of words that make sense only because they are all together, like the water drops that create the stream.

It’s the same with dancing. When you dance, your movements make sense because they are flowing. Everything moves together: you and your partner, your hand with your arms, your arms with your chest, your chest with your legs, and so on. You have a notion of continuity and fluidity.

Wow! Now you can add poet to your list of skills. That is beautifully put.

Well, once I understood this, it made it easier to explain to my students why some things they are learning will make sense and come together eventually, even though at first, it may all seem hard to get. We need to see the bigger picture and realize every small detail contributes to the beautiful whole canvas of life- like when we dance. It is the same when learning a new language.

It’s funny how we often hear dance being described as a language spoken through the body and movement. But this is so insightful to see a language like dance. Now I am going to be looking at languages and dance with a whole new depth thanks to you.

What do you think makes French in particular a unique language to learn?

This is a hard question to answer because in my opinion, every language is worth learning. But I’d say that French is a culture based on accuracy and reflection. As the comedian Steve Martin once said: “Boy, those French: they have a different word for everything!” It’s so true.

So I’d say what I love the most about this language is all the nuances it has. I guess this is part of what makes it unique, topped with its very funny and weird expressions sometimes. You can check out my Facebook page to get to know some of these French expressions and fun facts.

French is a very special language. And I can definitely say that I am proud to represent part of the French language and culture abroad.

To find out more about Oceane, or to register for her French classes,

click on the link below:

Have Fun Learning French

 

The Power of the Voice- Interview with Spencer Welch- Master Vocal Instructor

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Where were you born and brought up?

I was born in Ferney, in the Kootenays, BC. A year later, we moved to Calgary. And when I was five, we moved to Mexico.

Oh, that’s how you know Spanish.

Yeah. I grew up in Mexico in a small little city of two million people called Puebla. It’s about two hours outside of Mexico City. I lived there from age five to sixteen.

Did you grow up in a musical family?

Well, sort of. My grandpa and grandma on my dad’s side both played instruments and sang. And my dad sings beautifully and plays the piano and guitar all by ear. He has no idea which notes he is playing. He can only play the piano in about four or five keys. And they’re actually the really difficult keys. From very early on, my dad would bring a bunch of vinyl records home and would play all this music for me. He had a stereo with huge speakers and he would crank it as loud as he could. The windows would start shaking from the trumpets and the canons going off.

Haha! That is awesome.

Yeah, so it wasn’t like there were highly trained musicians in the family surrounding me. But there was all of this music in the house. Also, my friends that I was surrounded by were very good musicians. I remember being in bands from when I was 9 or 10 years old.

What instrument did you first start playing?

My first instrument was actually the accordion. We didn’t have a piano. We just couldn’t afford one. I took some accordion lessons but I wasn’t that into it. Then I got into guitar and I learned that by ear. I started teaching myself piano by ear after that. I got so deep into piano that I basically begged my parents for lessons. That started in Mexico.

And you started training your voice more in Canada?

When I came to Canada, I continued taking more theory and piano. And it wasn’t until I got into college that I started taking voice lessons. I always sang, and I started to perform professionally by the time I was about sixteen. I was getting hired by bands to play keyboard and sing back-up vocals. But at that time, I was just all self-taught. I had no vocal training. But I had lots of instinct built up. The majority of my formal training was when I went to college in Canada and studied jazz theory and composition, as well as piano and voice lessons. I did a little bit of Royal Conservatory before then too.

Spencer20I was introduced to the book The Talent Code through you and one of the other instructors at the Spencer Welch Vocal Studio– Rebecca Lam. What are your thoughts about the premise behind it- that talent is not born but learned?

I was afforded the opportunity from a very young age to be musical and to explore music. It was modelled for me in my dad and in my friends around me. And I didn’t have parents that looked down on music or singing as if it was somehow unimportant to explore that.

When I was five years old, I’d get pushed on stage at church and I’d be playing my ukulele and singing. I also went to a really small international school in Mexico where there were always big roles in every musical, and I very often got to be the lead. I think I was no more talented than the next person. It was just that I had lots of opportunities to express my musicality.

So I can relate to the premise behind the Talent Code in that way. The combination of all that was around me made singing, being on stage, and playing music seem natural. It was made to feel like a normal part of my life from a very early age. The talent was grown and nurtured, not necessarily something that I was just born with. Continue reading

What Dance Teaches Me

live to danceI have been so lucky to have some of the most inspiring teachers  come into my life.  Little did I know that Dance would be one of them.

Dance has influenced the decisions I make, the places I go, the people I meet, the perceptions I have about life, the values I cherish the most, my awareness of myself as a body and a soul, as well as how I interact with others and the world around me.

Someone recently asked me why I dance, and the first thought that came to my mind was, ironically, NOT thinking.  Dance, as I explained to this person, is one of the first places I learned not to lead (or follow) with thinking, but to feel.  With Dance, I shut off my brain, and engage, or turn on, my senses.  This is huge for someone who is constantly thinking and processing and analyzing like myself.  And wow, what it has done for my writing.  As a writer, I need to be much more in touch with my senses, and to be able to capture moments when my senses are really heightened. Dance makes me much more aware of those moments and plants the images of them deep within my memory.

Continue reading