From LPP Student to Teacher!

Photo of author

By Mary Clements

Raynham when they were a petite pomme (third on the right) to now where they are an awesome teacher with us!

Juana’s Interview With Our Awesome Teacher, Raynham! 

How did you get started in french?

My parents decided to put me in French Immersion ever since I was a kid, basically since kindergarten, but I’ve always loved being able to know and speak another language. When I was little I lived in Sweden for a while and was fluent in Swedish for a time too!

How old were you when you moved to Sweden?

I went there when I was 7 to 8 years old. There was no English program at my school so I actually had to go full immersion and became fluent in the language pretty quickly.

Would you say that you have had a talent for learning languages since you were young?

Maybe? I would say that I’ve always loved to learn new languages. I also wanted to pick up French when I came back to Canada because I enjoyed learning the language at my school. I’ve always loved it even though it was definitely challenging to pick it up after we came back.

Do your parents have a Francophone background?

My mom speaks a little bit of French but that’s all. Overall, I just think that they really wanted me to learn both languages because we live in a bilingual country and knowing both languages opens many doors.

Was there ever a time when you struggled learning French? Did you ever want to change from French Immersion to an anglophone school?

I definitely struggled when I came back from Sweden. I find that Swedish can be opposite to French in many ways and the whole process of coming back and picking up a new first language was very demanding. There were many moments where I thought certain tasks or subjects would have been easier if they were taught in English rather than French. This was the main reason why I started taking tutoring with Les Petites Pommes. That really helped me get back on track with my French. However, since most of my classes were in French, with time I just got used to using it again.

How was your experience being a student at Les Petites Pommes?

When I started tutoring with them, Les Petites Pommes was fairly new. It was basically just Mary and John doing the classes. I really loved all of the camps. Doing lots of activities in nature, going to the splash pad or the park, they were all some of my favorite things to do at the time. I do feel that Mary and John, but also all of our tutors here at Les Petites Pommes are such warm people. I really liked having a teacher that I didn’t feel intimidated by. They felt more like a friend who was there to help me out with my schoolwork.

And you are now a tutor with Les Petites Pommes! What made you take the step from being a student to being a tutor?

Well firstly I had been in tutoring at Les Petites Pommes on and off for many years so I felt comfortable that I already knew Mary and John from before. But then last year I worked as a camp counselor over the summer and realized that I really enjoy working with children. I ran into Mary shortly after that and decided that I could try tutoring. I thought that it would be really fun to hang out with so many students and to be able to do fun activities with them, but also it was a great opportunity for me to use French on a day to day basis, because I don’t have that many opportunities to do so besides school.

How has it been to get to work with Mary and John after being their student for so long?

It’s been a good thing, actually. Since they were tutoring me for so many years we know each other and have a very comfortable relationship and so that has allowed me to feel like the work is very easy going as well. They are great tutors and mentors.

You are one of the youngest teachers on our team. Do you think you have developed a sense of your teaching style?

I definitely feel that I have gotten to a good groove now. It took me a good month or two to feel more confident and comfortable. At first I felt a bit overwhelmed because teaching is fairly new to me, and it was hard to find that balance between being friendly with your student but also really getting into that teaching role. But now I know when to be firm with my students to help them get stuff done but also how to incorporate fun into all of my lessons. I have found that balance where I want to make sure they are learning but also in a fun way because that is what I experienced being a student here at Les Petites Pommes.

What is some advice you would give your colleagues as a younger tutor?

Don’t be afraid to try new things, even if they seem weird. Every student is different and sometimes you cannot predict which activities will work best with each. Some ideas may seem like a waste of time because they are not traditional, like playing a video game or watching their favourite series in French, but you’d be surprised at what a difference these can make in a session, how much more engaged they may become. And also, don’t be afraid to be silly, because that is also part of what makes our sessions fun!

Finally, what is some advice you would like to give to French learners?

Don’t skip the hard work. I know that sometimes these activities can be boring, like doing conjugations for example. I remember I used to avoid those all the time, but really, it is little things like that that really build up the foundation of your French. When I started reviewing those “boring” or more serious parts of the language, I noticed that my confidence and skills really improved! And so I do advise that you persevere because that hard work pays off.