As a busy small business owner I wear many hats, as you know.
A favorite: adult educator and French language instructor.
Not all those who can do, can teach.
One of the perks of being a few decades older is to have the luxury of looking back at life and work experiences and (if you’re lucky) to identify a lifeline, the main theme connecting the chapters in the book of your life.
For me, it’s always been teaching, training or mentoring.
A professional student (or so a family legend claims) I spent beaucoup de years in school preparing to become an English teacher, but a corporate career born serendipitously in Paris out of a student job led me away from teaching, at least for a while.
In the corporate world, there were new hires or junior employees to train and coach.
Once Stateside permanently in the late 1990s, I launched a small business, “Learn French in Seattle.” Cross-cultural and language training seemed like a good fit.
I started teaching French as an adult educator, tutoring students at local coffee shops (I knew the best ones in the Seattle area,) or leading small group French classes at a teaching studio set up… chez moi. There were also cross-cultural programs for companies doing business in France and travel workshops that often sold out at local community colleges.
The business proved profitable in just a few months. I ran it for over 15 years, taking only a brief break when Junior, my son, was born. During that time, I got certified as a Training Specialist at the University of Washington.
Teaching, training, teaching, training… There clearly was a trajectory.
After “Le divorce”, it was time to return to the corporate world in 2015. Global education was an appealing choice as the school director of one, then two ESL schools in the Seattle area.
When the shoe fits…
In 2019, I relocated to France.
Being an itinerant tour guide for Rick Steves Europe had been a long-standing dream. Rick, after all, is notorious for hiring guides who are teachers first. I trained long and hard that year, teaching about la Belle France as I became reacquainted with my homeland after more than two decades away. The enthusiasm was real, and tour members picked up on it.
In the spring of 2020, after the “Big C” hit and so many jobs in the tourist industry vanished (mine included) I pivoted and identified two ways of paying bills. I approached the Facebook community that knew me as “French Girl in Seattle” with two offers: joining a Patreon program that promised rewards and exclusive content to stuck-at-home travelers or online French conversation classes.
I was lucky. Both found an audience quickly. They still pay the bills today. Even more importantly, they have brought together a special community of francophiles and francophones around the world.
2023 French language bootcamps: Registration is open!
France with Véro’s French Bootcamps are not traditional classes. They focus on conversation and communication instead of grammar. Because the number of participants is limited to 8 per group and because I can only run so many online groups each week, classes sold out consistently through 2020 and part of 2021. Students learned, had fun and stayed. The waiting list grew.
Were the programs successful because of the companionship and friendships born out of lockdowns and frustration? Was it because as a tour guide, I was able to find original topics and materials to discuss French culture, history and current events?
“Qui sait?” Who knows?
In 2022, after a 6-month hiatus when the tour guide finally returned to itinerant guiding, French Bootcamps resumed this fall with an Advanced and an Intermediate group. Most participants are, once again, returning students.
It’s time to think about the 2023 class line-up.
Registration opens on Saturday December 3 for January classes. All details about the Bootcamps and the registration process are available here.
Questions? Reach out.
International travel may have resumed with a vengeance, and everyone’s busy packing and unpacking. Still, Bootcamps will sell out once again. After all, what francophile would pass up a chance to understand la Belle France more deeply and to interact and connect successfully as a temporary local on their next trip?
By the way, even if you aren’t interested in speaking fluent French, there’s still time to join “la Bande de Véro” (Véro’s posse) on Patreon. The Holidays are here: Treat yourself to an unlimited stream of insights, live events, virtual tours I continue to create monthly for the 500 members of this very special Club. Check us out!
Vive la France!
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