Story by Li Daniels
I love being able to share the beauty of the French language with people who are as lured by it as I am. Sometimes students come to me because they’re seduced by the sound of French, sometimes lessons are prompted by an upcoming trip abroad.
I am Paris-born, educated in the U.S. and have taught French in high school in New Jersey and at the Language Academy in Fort Lauderdale. Now I teach French at LILIANE de PARIS. My goal is to have my students be able to really converse.
I go at the speed and learning style of the particular student or group – some people are very auditory, others need to see or write in order to retain information. My technique is my own – from the very first day, even with a complete beginner, I teach in French as much as possible.
Along with basic grammar to help them build the necessary structure, I have students invent their own sentences as they absorb each lesson. Translating and filling in blanks, as in school, are fine for instilling a lesson. But they obviously aren’t sufficient on their own if a student wants to actually speak. It’s only when I “force” my people to invent their own sentences that it all jells and leads to speaking and then even thinking in French. The ultimate “ah-hah” moment is when they start dreaming in French.
I wish I could change the way in which languages are taught in our schools. Many of my students had years and years of high school and even college French, and still can’t speak a word. What a waste. We should start in kindergarden, instead of in high school, when self-consciousness makes them the least receptive. Bi-lingualism comes naturally to little kids and causes no confusion at all. I was tri-lingual at six and it was no big deal.
Liliane and her students at a party in her jungle garden.