Cécile Renon a été interviewée en anglais par Guide2Paris le 30 août 2011Paris People - Interview with Cecile Renon, owner of Paris Quai No 1
Paris People - Interview with Cécile Renon, owner of Paris Quai No 1
Every week, Guide2Paris will be talking to some of the people living or working in Paris to find out their experiences of being in the City of Lights. Today, we speak to Cécile Renon, the owner of Paris Quai Numero 1 which specialises in tailor made French lessons and cultural vsits.
When did you move to Paris and what were your reasons for coming ?
Actually, I live and work in Paris where I graduated in the 70’s (Sorbonne University and high school). But to answer your question thoroughly, I moved from Provence to Paris in 1969, as a teen-ager, with my parents. Although not my choice at the beginning, I loved my new Parisian friends and going to school in Paris right away. My native Provence became a place for holidays and still is, which is not too hard to cope with...
What made you decide to start the business ?
Teaching French was my first job. Graduated in English (Paris 4) and French as a foreign language (Paris 3), I taught for a few years in American colleges and universities (as a visiting professor) both in the US and in France. Although I knew I would come back to teaching French later and in a different context, I then worked full time in advertising for French media companies, major record companies, cultural and communication businesses, which I did enjoy thoroughly for over 20 years. But competition became harder than I expected.
I therefore decided to go for a more humane and international oriented activity and launched PARIS QUAI N°1 dedicated to visitors and expatriates based in Paris who want to start or improve their French (knowledge and practice) efficiently and according to their specific and unique needs : instead of a 10 to 20 people classroom system I could offer “a private French language and French culture tuition”. To start my own business, I had to register a business name, “Paris Quai N°1”, and made up a bilingual website to explain what to expect from an experienced professional language teacher. It all started in January 2009 with www.parisquainumero1.com .
Where is your business located ?
Located on the left bank, in the 14th arrondissement (Alesia and Denfert-Rochereau metro stations), I also teach private French (small groups on request) at other convenient places (home, office), Mondays to Saturdays from 8:00am until 8:00pm.
What services do you provide for people wanting to learn French ?
I provide beginners, intermediate or advanced learners with intensive or extensive private and individual French lessons in Paris. Language and culture are definitely intertwined in my indoors or outdoors lessons which are always adapted to the unique profile and personality of my clients.
* However, and this is quite unique, my clients decide what they prefer to work on more specifically, according to their personal priority at a given time, which means that they can change their orientations weekly or monthly : understanding and speaking (generally called conversation), phonetics and pronunciation, oral or written presentations, debate, interacting, writing, reading, everyday French, business French or specialized French.
* I also take my clients to exclusive cultural outings in Paris according to their wishes, their tastes and center of interest : fine arts, sciences, crafts, exhibitions, history, theater, music, lectures, fashion, shopping, specific areas in Paris… depending on the weather forecast and the available programs.
As a long time Parisian, I can provide a comprehensive and more clued-in approach to the city.
What is your “teaching method” ?
I prefer “approach”, “pedagogy” or “language didactics” to “method”. As a matter of fact my language teaching is based on a project oriented approach also called “action oriented approach” (“approche actionnelle” in French) where the learner is considered as the user of a language. Learning activities can therefore be seen as social and cultural actions carried out through various tasks meant to enhance the acquisition of language by competences such as : oral understanding, oral expression, written understanding, written expression plus cultural interaction and mediation.
These notions have been underlined and published in 2001 by the CECRL (Cadre Européen Commun de Référence pour l’apprentissage des Langues) in order to facilitate all language learnings, teachings and evaluations both by skill (“compétences”) and by level (niveaux A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2). I took a Master’s course on the subject last year at the Sorbonne-Paris 3 with the enhancers of the project and I find their approach quite efficient and sensible. My students like it too.
Have you had any difficulties with the French administrative system ?
Being French and running a rather light business I must say that I basically understand the French administrative system and I know how to follow its rules and regulations.
Would you do anything differently in hindsight ?
I knowingly chose “profession libérale en entreprise individuelle” (freelance status) which is perfectly convenient to my project, so far.
What advice would you give others wanting to start a business in Paris ?
Although I know the basics, I tell my clients to choose their personal status very carefully and knowingly. I also tell them that they should be ready to pay a bilingual or bicultural professional to advice them in French tax and social matters. According to the size of their project, I have some to recommend.
What advice would you give others thinking of moving to Paris ?
Expose yourself to as much oral and written French language as possible before moving over : classes, magazines, internet or/and TV broadcasts are easily accessible. Don’t forget that working on a foreign language is like practicing a music instrument or physical exercise : 15 minutes a day is much more useful than just a one-and-a-half-hour’s class per week. So, practice, practice and practice…every single day of the week !
What do you like most about living in Paris ?
Its history, its geography and its people, plus the fact that the entire world has come and still comes to Paris. There must be plenty of reasons why…
What do you least like about living in Paris ?
Mass tourism and overexposed touristic spots which erase the genuine aspect of the city. This is why I live in the quiet 14th arrondissement, away from the herds !
Describe your experience of living in Paris in 3 words.
Look, listen, feel… (and let me add “share”) !
Any other comments / advice ?
If you know somebody who wants to learn fast the language of the country he is meant to work in, definitely recommend intensive private lessons with a professional native teacher i.e. an expert in teaching the language to “grasp”, native or not native. It will save time and time means lots of money these days.
A second advice to language learners is : be as demanding of yourself as you are of your language teacher and don’t forget that “if you give peanuts, you’ll get peanuts” !
Check my website at www.parisquainumero1.com
You can drop me a line in the "Any questions ?" section or separately at : email@example.com