Over my time in Paris, I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some really exceptional people doing some really cool things. This article is the first of hopefully many interviews I’ll be doing with said people, telling you their stories so you can get to know a little bit about them.
One of the questions I get asked most frequently about living in France is “how did you become fluent in French?” It’s a difficult language to learn, and if you don’t have the benefit of an immersion experience like I did, it can seem like an insurmountable task. It’s really important to find a teacher who understands the trials and tribulations of learning a new language, which is where my lovely friend Carrie Anne James of French is Beautiful comes in.
Carrie Anne and I connected over Instagram awhile back (follow her here) and not only has it been wonderful getting to know her as a person (she really is as nice as she seems in her videos!), it’s been fascinating to see how she’s developed her business as a non-native French teacher. Because she’s American and had to learn French herself, she understands better than most teachers the various difficulties that come with learning French as a second language, a unique advantage that has allowed her to adapt her teaching methods to the needs of her students. She focuses on getting you to a place where you can feel comfortable speaking French, even if it’s not technically perfect- and isn’t that the goal when learning a new language anyways?
As someone who’s also learned French as a native English speaker, I can attest to just how great it is to find a teacher that understands you and will be compassionate about your learning process. I also really enjoy sharing people whose services could help you (in this case, if you want to learn/improve your French), so I’ve created this post in collaboration with Carrie Anne to, as her hashtag says, #speakfrenchspreadlove. Read my little Q&A with her below, and check out her courses here!
The Glittering Unknown: What were you doing before French is Beautiful?
Carrie Anne James: Before creating French is Beautiful, I was working as an actress and tutoring French and Spanish in Los Angeles.
TGU: What made you decide to start French is Beautiful?
CAJ: I knew that I wanted to inspire as many people as possible while doing something that I loved and that also allowed me to spend more time in Paris. I had no idea at the time that I would move here permanently shortly thereafter – that dream seemed too big too realize. Such a great lesson in the power of taking baby steps and how those seemingly small steps allow your dream to met you (more than) halfway.
TGU: At what point in that journey did you decide to move to Paris?
CAJ: About 6 months after starting French is Beautiful, while living my dream of spending a month in Paris, I realized that it was time to try to move here permanently.
TGU: You also speak fluent Spanish. Why did you decide to focus your business on French?
CAJ: I love the Spanish language and am fascinated by all of her many cultures, dishes, poets, artists and filmmakers, but I generally found that people came to me to learn Spanish out of a practical need (they were taking it for school or they needed it for work). With French, people want to learn it out of their passion for the culture, for Paris or simply for a je ne sais quoi. I love teaching people that are motivated by passion.
TGU: What can students get out of your courses that they couldn’t get elsewhere?
CAJ: The perspective of an American who became fluent (or ‘fluid’ as I prefer to say, as ‘fluency’ focuses on perfection, which is rarely an inspiring goal) in French through classroom studies and living and studying in Paris. My students love my empathy for the beautiful, complex journey of learning French.
TGU: What’s next for you and for French is Beautiful?
CAJ: I recently took up my Italian studies again at the Sorbonne. It’s been an amazing experience to dive back into life as a language student. Living in France has allowed me to travel to Italy more often and I am completely fascinated by her culture and in love with her language. Studying Italian, in French, is amazing. It’s so interesting how my perspective as a native English speaker actually helps me to see the similarities between the two languages more easily than the French students.
Carrie Anne offers a number of different classes, including a monthly membership program (for all levels besides beginners); Basics for Beginners; specialized classes like French Finances, Travel French and French Confidence; a book club; and even tons of free audio lessons on her Soundcloud! Find all of her classes HERE, and leave a comment to let me know if you decide to take one of her classes!
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This post was created in collaboration with French is Beautiful, but was not sponsored.