Category Archives: english as a foreign language

Visiting the Médiathèque (MAM) in Béziers


This is a new blog about the Languedoc, and about Béziers in particular! It’s written by my teenage ESL students in Béziers. Their goal is to share everything they love to do around the region with English speaking tourists. What a neat idea! I’m so proud of them. Check it out, and if you have a minute, let them know what you think of what they’re doing. It’s a challenge to do it in English, but they’re motivated!

B- ezier(s)

Practical Information about the Médiathèque:

On Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, the Médiathèque opens at 10:00 a.m. and closes at 6:00 p.m.  On Sundays, it is open from 2-6.  On Mondays and Thursdays, the Médiathèque is closed.  It has ten sections on three floors.  The inscription fee is 18€ for a year, but free if you’re under 25, and you need a card if you want to borrow.   Since it’s a public library, you can always go there to read or watch movies, etc. for free.  There are computers and activities for children and teenagers.  The address is 1, Place du 14 juillet 34500 Béziers.  The phone number is 04 99 41 05 50, and you can access their website by clicking here.

MISS J, 12 years old

Would you like to improve your French at the mediatheque ?

Like lots of different languages such as German, Spanish…

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“Why are you moving to France? Is it for a job? Do you have a place picked out?”


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As we started to tell friends and family that we are moving to France this summer (granted, it’s been a year and a half in the making), one of the very first questions people ask is:

“Why?”

This question is asked in various tones.

“Why would you ever want to leave the US?”

“Why would you want to go so far away?”  

“Why raise your children anywhere but in America?”

But I have to say, overall, the most frequently asked questions are:

“Where are you going?  Do you already have a place picked out?”

“Why are you moving to France?  Is it for a job?”

Both of the latter questions are 100% viable (and I’ll just pretend that the top three were never asked).  I understand why people would ask them.  I probably would ask the same question if someone told me they were moving to a “foreign” country.

Gotta love the word “foreign”.  Honestly, I think in our day and time, it’s a very dated word.  What’s foreign anymore?  We don’t even call our languages department “Foreign Languages” anymore.  We are now called “World Languages“.  The only reason we can call something or someone “foreign” is because we haven’t taken the time to learn anything about them.  With the world being as small as it is these days, I think that’s a darn shame.

But to get back to the point, I think it’s high time I answered the question of whether we “have a place” already.  The answer is “no”.  We don’t have a “place”.

We sold our house here in St. Louis, we are going to move to France this summer, and when we get there we will have a “place” rented before the container with all of our household goods arrives 2-ish months later.  No stress.  We’re going to rent an apartment, and hopefully a really cute one with a guest room and an office (am I dreaming?).  We do happen to be in the fortunate situation of having family in the area, so we won’t have to worry about where we will stay in the meantime.

As for the second question:

“Why are you moving to France?  Is it for a job?”

People are always completely astonished when I answer, very simply, “No.  It’s not for a job.  It’s for a change, and one we’ve been dreaming of making for the last 14 years.”

That said, we are not independently wealthy, so we will certainly be working in France!  About a year ago I started thinking that rather than looking for a job to work for somebody else, I’d rather create something of my own.  What have I come up with?

Teaching English and French via Skype:  I got hired on by a France based company to teach English and French with them, and I already have five (sometimes six) students.  It’s so much fun!  I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about it, and in the beginning I was really nervous.  As it turns out, I love it!  My husband has a business background as well as teaching in a French immersion school.  I have lots of teaching experience.  The plan is to start up our own Internet-based language school, and I am very optimistic.  I recently started a new blog to that effect:  learnfrenchwithjennifer.com   It’s only the beginning, but I know it will be something wonderful.

Oxbridge Académie de France:  A year and a half ago, this was a longshot.  I applied for the position of Dean at this French immersion school in Montpellier in February of 2012, but I was too late for the summer of 2012.  I wrote it down in my calendar to not forget about applying in 2013.  The job description seemed to fit me like a glove.  On January 4 of this year, I sent my CV and cover letter off to Oxbridge and hoped for the best.  It wasn’t until March 1 that I heard from the Executive Director of the school.  A month and a half and two Skype interviews later, I’ve just been offered the job.  I’m clearly on cloud nine!  It will be a summer of joy, I know it, because I love working with young people who have a passion for France (and French!).  It will be exhausting, but so rewarding.  My family will be just a few kilometers down the autoroute, so we will get to see each other often.  And how about that updated CV?  Sounds like a good plan to me.

What has being 40 (alright, 41) taught me about self confidence?

At this particular point in time, I honestly feel that the world is my (our) oyster, and why shouldn’t it be?  I’ll be the first to admit that I see the jar half full.  What’s the harm in that?  In the last six months I have come to believe that sometimes you just have to give yourself a chance.  Why wouldn’t something good happen for me if I’ve worked hard for the last fifteen years to try and fulfill my dreams?  (Side note:  It’s actually been 22 years, ever since I became a single mom at age 19 and decided I didn’t want to be a statistic).  I’ve often had the opinion that I’m not quite good enough at what I do for my dreams to come true.  I know, I can hear the violins.  But honestly, if we can’t believe in ourselves, who else would have a reason to?

Teaching English and French Classes Online


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As many readers will know from my previous posts, I’m a high school French teacher.  I’ve been doing this for fifteen years, and teaching is my calling.  I love it.  I work at an awesome high school where all of the students are amazingly motivated and the parents are supportive, my colleagues are my friends.  So as I quit my job to move on to the next stage in life, which is making a permanent move to France this coming summer, I have mixed emotions.

For the last year or so I have been thinking very hard about what I’d like to do for work once we’re in Béziers.  One thing I know, at forty years old and with two kids under the age of ten, is that I want to plan my own schedule.  I want to work on my own terms.  I know, after having lived in France before, how wonderful it is to be able to pick up the kids from school and bring them home for lunch between 12 and 2.  Also, as I look at the schedule of school holidays in France, I know my family would benefit greatly by my being able to be off with the kids during those times.  Who am I kidding?  I’ve been a teacher for fifteen years, and I enjoy life with school holidays (coming from someone who has the whole next week off for Spring Break).

Sometime last fall I got the idea of teaching English online.  I have a colleague who taught Chinese online for a while, and she talked to me about doing the same.  I investigated many online language schools, and some are certainly more reputable than others.  I sent my CV off to several of the more established schools, and waited to see what would happen.  It wasn’t long before I started receiving email responses from several of them.

One of them is actually a French online school, but they’re looking to expand to teach English classes as well.  They are based in Montpellier, which is very close to where we will be living in France. That’s where they’re based, but given the nature of the business, one can live anywhere in the world.  The French owner, who is about my age, is in Thailand for the time being.  Another has recently relocated to Tahiti.  They all have children, and they all home school them.  I’m not looking to home school my children, but I love the idea of the freedom we will have.

I actually feel much more comfortable teaching French as a foreign language than English, but that’s just because I have a lot more experience doing that.  I have a BA in English as well though, and I think that’s what gives me an edge in the business even though I’ve spent my whole professional life teaching French.  I went through several Skype interviews over the months of December and January, and finally I was hired!  I’ve given a total of 8 classes via Skype so far.  These classes have actually been in French rather than English, even though I’m not a native speaker.  At first, I was very nervous about it.  Fear of the unknown!  After the first fifteen minutes, I was once again at ease.  It’s so much fun.  You just use the chat box like you would a white board.

I’ve also started creating free French lessons on YouTube.  This is just for fun, and there are only three lessons on my channel so far.  I put a link to my YouTube channel at the top of my blog page. I’m going to try to put up at least one lesson per week and we’ll see how that goes.

I wanted to get started with this new method of teaching right away, so that I could become familiar with it and hopefully get established before moving (and before my teaching paychecks stop this summer).  Looks like I’m on the right track.  I’m also getting a website, business cards, and flyers ready for one-on-one English (or French) classes in Béziers.  Wouldn’t it be great if this took off?  Call me an eternal optimist, but I really think I will find success in this venture.  I always see the glass as half full, and so far that’s worked out very nicely.