We caught up with Grisel Damgaard to discuss “Real Life” individual language courses offered at Carfax in Monaco
Last issue we looked at Carfax Educational Consultants (carfax-education.com), now well-known on the Riviera for their academic top-up tuition for international school students, exam preparation services and university selection and application guidance. Yet there’s another side to their business, to help both adults and children either improve a language they already speak, or learn a new one.
“Many expats living here do not yet speak French,” Grisel explains, “and it’s something which can really contribute to their feeling of isolation. What we find is that many clients have tried various methods and then just given up – which further reinforces the idea that ‘I can’t learn French’.”
Practice language in real-life situations
“Our tutors are well-versed in several methodologies and are able to discern the best method for each client. The challenge with group lessons is that it is almost impossible for the organisers to find participants who all have the same schedule, goals, starting point and language learning style. That’s why so many people start group lessons and then give up after a while – they feel frustrated that their individual needs are not being met or else they cannot move their busy schedules around to comply with a school’s timetable. Add to that people’s goals vary: some just moved here and want to learn French, others have children about to integrate into an English-language school and want to ensure that the transition goes smoothly, some wish to brush up on a language for professional reasons, and others wish to learn vocabulary which is specific to a certain industry, such as banking or yachting. For these reasons, we only offer individual tuition.”
Grisel Damgaard, Director of Carfax Education MonacoThis past January, Carfax Education Monaco launched their new “Real Life” lessons, whereby clients, in addition or instead of learning in a classroom setting, can practice the language in real-life situations. “Many clients can actually speak French quite well,” Grisel explains, “but then they get in front of their bank teller, or the auto mechanic – and they freeze! Cultural differences add further stress to the mix; so before you know it you have someone who just gives up and only speaks with fellow anglophones, which is a shame, because they are missing out on such a wide variety of amazing experiences, not to mention the pleasure of communicating in what I think is one of the most beautiful languages in the world, la langue de Molière.”
Carfax Education Monaco works closely with clients to monitor their progress, and provides them with detailed monthly reports, with the Academic Director, Jeanne Spoeri, overseeing the entire process, whether lessons take place at the client’s home or at the Carfax offices next to the Monaco Yacht Club. Most clients request tuition in English, French, Italian, Russian and Mandarin, but requests for more unusual languages, such as Portuguese or Japanese, can also be fulfilled.
Grisel adds: “I like to say that it’s quite the opposite from ‘getting someone who can teach your child a bit of English’, or ‘hiring someone who does a bit of tutoring here and there’. All of our tutors are professional, reliable, experienced university graduates who are passionate about their work, who teach with enthusiasm and who are good at motivating the client to put in their best effort. We’re really – really! – picky about who works for us.”