Learning another language can be daunting, and learning French is certainly no exception. However, the lessons with French Coffee Break are nothing like those French classes you endured at school. Instead, Manon Dewitte, a native French speaker and teacher, has created a unique system, tailoring classes to suit your needs. It’s like doing an immersion course – but online! Most importantly, though, it’s not her belief in you and your French-speaking abilities that motivates you, although that is encouraging to say the least. It’s the fact she gives you permission to make mistakes, learn the correct way and move on.
Practice makes almost perfect!
In my first lesson, Manon agrees that I need to expand my vocabulary, and that tidying my grammar is a priority. But she quickly reassures me with, “But, you know, you don’t have to be perfect.” And with that, you are given a free pass. In classes with Manon, it is perfectly ok to lose your words, to stumble over your liaison, or to tie your tongue in a knot. You are already succeeding because you are trying. As Manon insists, the practice goes a long way.
Whether you are learning French to apply for a job or for French citizenship, if you’re taking an exam – Manon covers the DELF, DALF and TEF – or if you simply want to communicate more easily, Manon will take your requirements into account. She is perfectly aware that everyone learns at different speeds, that some people have a natural flair for languages, while others, quite frankly, do not. No matter where you fall on that scale, she will nurture your abilities.
Everyone can speak French
“Everyone can speak French, it’s absolutely possible!” says Manon, and just like that, be prepared for your confidence to suddenly soar in the first class alone.
It begins with a 15-minute call with Manon so she can assess your level; starting at A1 (Introduction), there are 9 levels in total, so you have plenty of room to grow. During your chat, she aims to understand exactly what you hope to achieve. She recalls helping a woman from Brazil needing to pass the French citizenship test. “She was preparing to marry a Frenchman and her French skills were minimal – she was desperate to get to the B2 level but only had a few months! It was intense, but we did it! And on the big day, she shone with her French language skills! Of course, normally people have longer to prepare but I’m convinced that everyone can learn French!”
Encouragement and motivation
Every class takes place online and can be taken individually or in a group of 4 to 6 people. As the lessons progress, Manon will adapt, modify and change material to suit everyone. Students prepare for the classes in advance, whether there is writing, listening or something to watch. Then the class starts with a French-speaking ice breaker as everyone discusses their opinions on the material. Manon helps throughout with vocabulary and grammar.
“Sometimes people are quite shy to talk out loud in French, especially when they’re new to it,” says Manon, “but then they realize that everyone is in the same boat, all wanting to learn. And they begin to help, encourage and motivate each other and to realise it’s ok to make mistakes. That’s how you learn – and you can learn, it just takes time and regular lessons.”
Learn about French culture, traditions and cuisine
Practicing with others is the secret to accustoming yourself with another language, and while that can be intimidating at first, just appreciating the camaraderie is enough to get the conversation flowing. Manon is patient and helps to create a perfectly relaxed atmosphere, and her advice about releasing the need for perfection is unbelievably helpful.
Each course includes 20 lessons, and before the classes begin, you are given access to a Google Drive file full of course content and homework documents. According to Manon, a strong basis in grammar is “essential” for good French, yet that is where the similarities with your school French lessons end. Instead, Manon focuses on real French – the words spoken in day-to-day life, not the phrases you’ll read in textbooks. Depending on your overall goal, you can learn both the formal and informal versions of the language, the phrases that you’ll use in an interview or useful terms to say with friends. Best of all, the subjects are interesting – with Manon, you will tackle French culture, traditions, stereotypes, and cuisine.
Every lesson counts
With this refreshing outlook on language learning, it doesn’t take long to improve! After only my first lesson, I was shocked to realise I already sounded more fluent! Manon agrees, “It really doesn’t take long to get better. When students join for their very first lesson with no French language skills at all, they are always amazed that within a few hours they’re chatting away in French!”
She doesn’t just offer classes – sign up to her newsletter for regular French content (a perfect excuse to practice your reading) and her Instagram is full of fun and intriguing tips and infographics. She likes to keep your French brain ticking over by feeding you bite-size portions of language. As she says to me during the class, “You’re going to get better and better at this with practice and then you will be nearly perfect!” If that isn’t motivation, then I don’t know what is.
There is also a weekly podcast for you to listen to and practice French with transcripts for study/reading (free to all) via the website below.
Find out more, book a free chat with Manon and learn French at: frenchcoffeebreak.com