Category Archives: ESL

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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Moving to France in 21 Days: The Why and How?


I was recently invited to write a guest post on a fellow blogger’s website, and as I was answering her questions I realized that I’d never shared much of this information on my own blog.  I’ve decided to post it here, exactly as it will appear on her blog, and I’ll share the link once she publishes it.

Question #1:  A little about yourself, where you are living now, what you do now, children etc..

Allow me to introduce myself.  My name is Jennifer, and I’m a mother of three and wife of one.  I’m originally from Louisiana, way down south in Cajun Country.  My whole family still lives there.  My parents have told me on numerous occasions that they don’t know how I turned out the way I did because I’m so different than my brother and sister.  So far I’m the only one to have been bitten by the travel bug, but that may change because we have decided to uproot the family and move to France one month from now.  My sister and cousin from Texas used to tell me I was adopted, and that was why there were no pictures of me as a baby at my Granny’s house, but I know they were teasing and I have my mom’s skinny legs and freckles to prove it.

Question #2:  Where are you from originally?

I’ve been living in St. Louis, Missouri ever since I came up here seventeen years ago for graduate school to study French literature.  It was only a year and a half later that I met my Parisian husband, François-René.  People love to ask me if we met while I was studying in Paris, but I never studied there!  We met by chance in a 1997-style Internet chat room, way before the days of Match.com.  I was there to practice my French, and he was there to practice his English.  One year, many transatlantic flights, and many dollars spent on long distance phone calls later, we were married and off to live in France for a year while waiting on his Green Card to come through.

At that time, back in 1998, we decided that even though he was from Paris we would settle down in the South of France.  We moved to Béziers in the Languedoc-Roussillon region where his sister and her family were living.  We stayed there for one year, and decided to move back to St. Louis so that I could finish up my MA in French.  We told ourselves that we would move back when I’d completed my degree.  Now here we are 14 years later, still in St. Louis.  I’ve been teaching high school French all this time, and to an amazing bunch of young men

François started out in the corporate world since he’d studied business administration, but after ten years of that he decided to make a career change.  He went to work as a teacher in a French immersion school in the city.  We have enjoyed every minute of living here, and it’s a wonderful place to raise a family, but that’s no reason for us to feel stuck.  And a year and a half ago we started to feel stuck.  That’s when we decided to sell the house and move back to France.

Question #3:  When are you moving to France and with whom?

Before we had come to a complete decision, we did ask our children how they would feel about it.  At this point it is important for me to say that being teachers, we’ve been able to spend two months in France every summer for the last 14 years.  Our children are all completely bilingual with no trace of an accent, because we’ve only spoken French with them since they were born.  Compared to our American friends, we lead a very “French” lifestyle already in terms of every day family life.  We have three children, but only two still at home.  Our eldest is now 22, and though he plans to eventually come to France to study the culinary arts, he will stay here for now.  We also have a 9-year-old son and a 6-year-old daughter.  They are very excited about moving to France, and naturally a bit sad to leave behind their school and little friends.  We will be moving back to Béziers, where François-René’s sister and her family still live.  The kids will go to the same school where our older son went when he was in first grade.  We will live fifteen minutes from the Mediterranean coast and one hour from the Spanish border and the Pyrenees.

Question #4:  Where are you going to move?  Why did you choose that area?

While considering where to move in France, at least for now, there are only two real options.  There’s Paris, where Grandma and Tante Guénaëlle still live, and then there’s Béziers.  We want to be near the family (a luxury we’ve never known), and honestly, choosing between hectic city life and the good weather and serenity of the South, it’s not a difficult decision to make.  All said and done, it took us a year to get our house on the market and sell it.  For now, we are planning to rent in Béziers.  I’m kind of hoping for an affordable little house, or “villa” as they call them, but we’ll see what we can find.  We won’t be in a huge rush to find something because it will take our container up to two months to arrive.  In the meantime we can stay with the family in July, and in August they’re going on vacation so we will house sit.  We usually stay with them for about six weeks every summer anyway.  Plus they live in a house surrounded by vineyards with horses and a swimming pool.  It’s a pretty sweet deal, and all the more so because they are 100% adorable and we don’t seem to get on their nerves too much.

Question #5:  Why are you moving to France?

We have not decided to move to France for an awesome job offer, nor have we decided to move there because we’re independently wealthy people.  Why have we decided to move to France?  We are schoolteachers.  We work hard and want to enjoy our lives as much as possible.  We want the very best for our children.  I’m sure that turning 40 had a lot to do with our decision to move to France, and why not?  I don’t want to wait until I’m retired to live the good life.  St. Louis has been great, and so will be France.  I’m looking forward to the temperate summers and winters.  I know it gets hot there in the summer, but you don’t know hot until you’ve lived in hot and humid Louisiana and St. Louis.  I’m also looking forward to learning how to slow down.  Relax.  Take a load off.  Enjoy life.

I’m looking forward to summers at the beach and winters in the mountains without having to spend an absolute fortune like we would have to here in the States.  I’m looking forward to not having to worry about the cost of health care.  And what about the food, the wine, and yes…the French people!  I’ve found the people we’ve met in the South of France to be very genuine and caring people.  I’m also very much looking forward to raising our children with a strong sense of “politesse” that is becoming harder and harder to find in the US.  We’re doing our best, and they’re very polite and sweet, but I can remember how much easier it was (when my eldest was a little boy in France) when it wasn’t considered an abnormality for children to be polite.  It was the norm.

Question #6:  What will you do when you arrive in France?

Upon arriving in France, I will be working for 5 weeks in Montpellier as Summer Program Dean for Oxbridge’s Académie de France.  It’s a summer French immersion program for teenagers from around the world.  Though I’ll be living on campus during that time, it’s only about a half an hour away from Béziers, and that’s where my husband and kids will be.  They can come to see me, and I also will have one day off every week.  I’m very excited about this position, as I usually spend a month every summer traveling around Europe with my students from St. Louis.  I am also hoping to make some good connections.

After that first month I will return to Béziers with my family, and we will await our container while searching for a house or apartment to rent.  From that point on, all we will need is a strong Internet connection, a willingness to work hard, and a bit of good luck to launch our online language academy.  I’ve been working very hard for the last nine months or so to get it up and going.  I will teach English and French via Skype  (I’ve already started), together we will create podcasts, videos, free French and English lessons, we’ll maintain several language related blogs, websites, and Facebook pages, and continue to expand my YouTube channel while attempting to make a living from it all.  Aside from that, we’ll be spending our time living out a dream.

Question #7:  Have you a blog?  Facebook “Like” pages?

I have a personal blog, C’est la Vie! and it’s all about our original plan to move to France and the steps we’ve been taking to get there.  Once we’re in France, I plan to blog about daily life in the Languedoc.  I also have a blog to help people learn to speak French, Learn French With Jennifer, and one to help French speakers learn to speak English, Apprendre l’Anglais Avec Jennifer.  In addition, I have a commercial website that I’m working on (it’s not 100% complete) to promote the Skype lessons that I mentioned, and it’s called Love Learning Languages.  Anyone who is interested can easily access my Facebook pages, Living in Languedoc , Love Learning French , and Love Learning English.  In case that’s not enough, I also have a YouTube channel to which I upload videos to learn French on a daily basis.

Thank you so much for inviting me to write a guest post on your blog.  I wish you all the best in your return to Ireland, and hope that you will keep nothing but fond memories of your 11 years spent in France.  I dream to one day go to Ireland, the homeland of my ancestors.

“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.