“I’ve come to see her as a trusted advisor, someone completely vested in my success”

Terry Young, Investment Banker
Chicago, USA

My story

I am a native French-speaking woman born to a Belgian Italian father, and a Congolese mother. Languages and living in multilingual environments have always been a part of my life since birth. Besides being surrounded by a family that speaks French, Italian and Swahili, growing up in Belgium also taught me a great deal about Dutch / Flemish, and language matters from a personal and cultural point of view. The same is true for English and my love for the United Kingdom, where I have been living most of the time since 2007.

It wasn’t until I nearly completed my Masters degrees in Journalism and Arts Management at Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB / Free Brussels University), that I realised how much I love helping others learn and understand complex new concepts. Indeed, back in 2005 while still a university student, I was given the opportunity to take part in an educational programme called “Schola ULB”, designed by my university and which aimed to provide teaching assistance to various secondary schools across Brussels. I chose to teach French, and it quickly became obvious to me that teaching was my real passion. I enjoy conveying new information, and I derive real, genuine satisfaction from seeing my students and clients understand it and grow like trees.

Between 2006 and 2012, while simultaneously working as a journalist for various French-speaking media, teaching English to migrants in the UK, running a few art venues such as the Barbican Centre in London where I worked for three years, and starting my career as an independent author writing in English under pen names, I taught French one-to-one in my London home and / or at my students’ places in the City. I quickly realised that what works for one student doesn’t necessarily work for others. I needed to personalise my lessons as much as possible in order the bring the very best out of my students’ potential.

In 2013, I launched a French Club in several nursery and primary schools in North London. This taught me a lot about foreign language acquisition through different stages of life. What they say is true: children really are sponges, but so are adults. It just takes (a little bit) more time for the fully developed brain to acquire a new language. However, the process is exactly the same.

In 2014, I obtained my certificate of Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL), in London.

In 2015, I started to teach one-to-one on a website that doesn’t even need introducing anymore in the foreign language community: ITalki. That is where I have learned so much more than just teaching a foreign language. Besides questions related to the French language itself (grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation, etc.), my students have often asked me about ways to keep their learning fun and entertaining, how to confidently move to the next level and how to overcome their fear of talking to native speakers, or even talking at all, as far as beginners are concerned. My job is to help them overcome any hurdles they may encounter in their language learning, and I am expert at that.

My clients and students often say to me that I am the best advisor and teacher they’ve ever had. I always reply to them that they have made me an excellent advisor and teacher, with their own challenges and unique personalities. Indeed, I use an endless number of methods to keep them motivated. My favourite one is intuitive teaching and coaching.

What do I mean by “intuitive teaching and coaching”? I mean that my method will vary based on what you enjoy in life in general, what makes you tick, what your goals are, and even the day of the week or the time of the day. My aim is to keep you at ease and relaxed at all time, and to help me do this I’ll focus on finding out about you. As a matter of fact, I am genuinely interested in people. I am voraciously curious about the world and others. As I get to know you, I’ll be better equipped to develop a language programme that perfectly matches your personality, and which will inevitably bring results. Regardless of your language goals, I will help you move in the right direction in order to achieve them.

Last but not least, I strongly believe in the concept of “matches made in heaven”, which I believe is a very important one when it comes to a one-to-one teacher / student relationship, as well as a coach / client one. As a rule of thumb, please always make sure that your teachers, coaches and advisors are compatible with you. I cannot emphasise this enough. This is absolutely vital for your success.

Some things about me

Here are a few more things about me, to help you be sure whether our personalities are a good match:

  • On top of being a teacher and language coach, I am also a self-published author who writes under pen names
  • I love drawing my own kind of surrealism, and I draw everything I can’t write. That’s my cure for writer’s block
  • I love taking long walks in the woods, on the beach, or in small and charming English villages, with my wonderful fiancé
  • I own hundreds of CDs
  • I have been a David Bowie fanatic since birth – literally – as all my friends and family can attest. I became aware of his genius at the age of 6 years old, back in the 1980s
  • I am a cat person, and I have given all the cats I’ve owned names related to space and / or people who intrigue me: Sputnik, Jupiter, Rasputin, etc.; Those little, mysterious creatures fascinate me and I secretly dream of them regaining the godly status that Ancient Egyptians gave them
  • Frank Zappa’s mind-blowing guitar solos make me cry
  • I love reading American crime fiction and utopian/dystopian Russian literature
  • My favourite Beatle is George Harrison
  • Some famous people I’d love to have dinner with, dead or alive, and in no particular order: Queen Elizabeth II, Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein, Steve Marriott, Tina Turner, Soeur Emmanuelle, Jean-Paul Gaultier, Winston Churchill, Frank Zappa, Margaret Thatcher, Stanley Kubrick, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Mobutu Sese Seko, Denis Mukwege, Cynthia Lennon, Michael Johnson, Joséphine Baker, Frank Sinatra, Sally Ride, Plato, and finally, George W Bush (politics aside, his “Bushisms” are hilarious, and I’m always up for a good laugh)
  • I love the rain and the smell of freshly cut grass
  • I’m still trying to get past level 14 at Tetris on the Game Boy
  • I love genuine American cowboy boots, handmade in the USA. I own a couple of pairs
  • I spent my early childhood in Africa, and one of my favourite snacks back then was honey-roasted crickets. Not any more. I see here a similarity with language learning. Some things become harder to do as you get older, especially if you stop doing them for a while. I guess I should try again, both eating crickets and learning Chinese
  • I could probably hang paintings by Salvador Dali, René Magritte and Jean-Michel Basquiat all over my house
  • I can’t handle very spicy food. I’d rather have some chicken korma or some flavour rich Mediterranean or Middle Eastern food instead
  • I pronounce “scone” the right way, unlike my British fiancé

Copyright Carine Lemaire – All rights reserved

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