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

 

Interview with Yesenia Peralta- Part 2

Part 2: “Learning about the history of salsa- how can you not be moved?  I mean, it’s like yesenia1planting a seed in your soul!”  – Yesenia Peralta

(To begin at Part 1 – “Dancing has really taken me to a place of healing that I never imagined“- click here)

What has stood out to me about your dancing is that it is much deeper than just steps. You have that heart and passion for it….

SOUL! It’s called SOUL, baby! (smiles).

Yes, exactly (laughs)!  So did you grow up with lots of music and dancing in your family? Where did that SOUL (smiles) come from?

Well, yes, we did listen to A LOT of music.  And my sister –Irene Otero- and my brother – Ismael Otero – are six and seven years older than me.  So imagine, when I was seven, they were in their teens.  What do you think they were blasting? – Music EVERYWHERE.  They were really into breakdancing and all that crazy stuff.  And with the dancing, well, my brother and sister used to battle- in breakdancing battles, on the street.  And THEY WERE BAD ASS!  My sister was a beast!  Don’t mess with her.  Don’t even try (laughs).  The way she is now in salsa is the way she was then in breakdancing, and of course, my brother too.  They were the best.  And I was the little sister.  And so for me, oh my God, that was all normal to me (smiles).  It was what I grew up with.

So at a certain point, did you start taking formal classes in any type of dance at all?

I’ve never taken formal dance classes except for learning salsa from my brother. My yesenia2brother learned from Luis Zegarra, ‘cause Luis lived upstairs from us and we grew up with him.  And then my brother decided to start doing his own thing.  And I would just go hang out, ‘cause salsa was not my thing, in the beginning.   But I learned the basics, and I caught on very quickly.  Within the first three months, I was winning competitions with my brother.  It was unbelievable- me and my brother were on a rampage, taking over the WORLD, just winning competitions, street-style.  No rehearsals. None of that stuff.  It felt like it was in us already.

But it’s not until NOW that I notice that I had a talent.  The way I look at my videos now, I never looked at them like that before.  So I’m kind of looking at them with different eyes now.

Wow. That must be interesting for you.

It is. It is. And I’m in awe, because I never realized I had talent then.  I was grateful that people enjoyed watching me. But I never understood why.   I just enjoyed dancing.  You know, I never did it for attention.  I’m gonna be honest, my intentions were NEVER to be in the public eye because I AM a private person.  And I am a little shy, believe it or not (smiles).

And I’m learning about myself through all this stuff that I’m going through now with the MS.   I didn’t really know that I had impacted so many people.  And it makes me feel good right now.  It makes me feel amazing to see so many people write me- oh my God- so many emails!  And it’s too much for me to even respond to. That’s why I like that I’m even doing this interview, because people will also get to know me a little better through this. Up until now, they know me for my name, but they don’t know my story or who I really am.

Continue reading

To be a Bboy…

Quote

“You don’t need to be able to do a backflip or head-spin to be a Bboy or a Bbgirl.  When I teach, I tell my kids, “If you just wanna be an ‘ill top rocker, you go and do that.” Just make sure you have the understanding of the freshness aspect, the cultural aspect, of how to share your dance and your passion with other people, because that’s what it’s truly meant for.  Dance is just to express and to share and to inspire, to bring a balance to yourself and to the community.  So if you just want footwork, do footwork!  It’s all good with me.”

– Bboy Savage Rock

(Note: This quote came from an interview with Bboy Savage and the rest of the guys in the Now or Never Crew. To read the full interview, go to Industry Dance Magazine’s website by clicking here.)

Interview With Cesar Coelho- “Tango is more than a dance…”

It was a pleasure to be able to talk to Cesar Coelho after his tango workshops. Despite having given an intense set of classes during the day, and needing to rest for a photo shoot early the next morning, Cesar gave up his time to share his insights and thoughts. The passion and openness with which he spoke was much appreciated. Cesar has an extensive background in tango, ballet and jazz. He is well known for his precision and energy on stage particularly as the lead in the Broadway show “Forever Tango”. Cesar proves to be a talented dance teacher at such a young age, driving his students to understand more than just the steps to the dance. “He is amazing,” commented one of his students, “I take his classes every time he is in town, and each time I work with him, my dancing progresses so much further.” Continue reading