Alexa Polidoro is the internet’s favourite French teacher!
Here at The Good Life France we thought we’d put Alexa’s teaching skills to the test. Mark who provides our technical support, spends a lot of time in France but – he doesn’t speak French. We thought it would be a grand idea to have him learn French with Alexa with an online course – developing his language skills in four key areas: speaking, listening, reading and writing.
On Alexa’s Learn French with Alexa website there are several categories of lessons – video, audio, beginner through to advanced. Mark is starting with the French Adult Lessons – complete beginner. We’re going to follow his progress and he’ll be writing up his diary each week telling us how he’s getting on and sharing the experience with our readers.
We asked Alexa more about her and her French teaching programme….
TGLF: Tell us a bit about you – where you are from and where you live now…
Bonjour, I was born in the Burgundy region (la Bourgogne) famous for ‘les escargots de Bourgogne’ and some of the most succulent wine (such as ‘Mâcon village’ or ‘Chablis’). I moved to England over 20 years ago to improve my English – and I never looked back; I have been living in London for over 15 years.
TGLF: What got you into teaching French in the first place?
I have always been very keen to work with children ever since I was little, so I started teaching French to a small amount of children where I lived in Surrey 20 years ago. As my methodology became popular so did my business and I created a company called The French Ecole a long time ago. I have taught in hundreds of schools to thousands of children throughout my career but enjoy teaching adults just as much. Some of the people in my French conversation group classes have been coming religiously every week for over 10 years. I also prepare a lot of students for their exams (GCSE, A levels etc…).
TGLF: What is different about “learnfrenchwithalexa.com” that might help people like Mark who struggle to learn French?
Because I met some of the most enthusiastic learners over the years they helped me develop a certain way of teaching. I learnt what they wanted to learn most, the language problem they encountered and what was necessary for them to know in order to become a confident French speaker. I also realised that once you gave them the right tools to start with they became more confident. I suppose the more confident they became the less inhibitions they had. So many people stop learning a language quickly after starting and it is purely because of a drop in enthusiasm, however, if you manage to keep your enthusiasm up then you are more likely to succeed. The more you realise that your efforts are paying off, the more you improve. I suppose the Learn French with Alexa methodology shows that learning French can be fun and it is not as hard you might think. I make sure that each lesson is not too overwhelming and move on with the levels one step at a time. I also try to talk to my listeners as if I was in the room with them.
TGLF: Is the programme suitable for all ages?
Yes absolutely. I know of young students who use the lessons as reinforcement to what they learn at school. People who learn with Learn French with Alexa come from all over the world and learn French for different reasons but have chosen my methodology because I tend to explain (like a private tutor in the room with you) in a lot of details some of the major grammatical points. I also admit I am wrong sometimes and forget some of the French words which makes me look as vulnerable as my listeners I suppose. I admit that I am still learning English and that I am not a professor of linguistics of some fancy university, so I am pretty much your everyday teacher.
TGLF: Tell us a bit about your French podcasts…
The lessons were created at first for the podcasts but as they became popular (over 9 million downloads of the free learn French lessons) we decided to create a course for beginners. The rest is history as they say.
TGLF: For anyone new to learning French what is your recommendation for using the programme? E.g. how often should lessons be taken…
Please start with lesson 1, though you might find it super easy, you will see that there is a clear continuity between the lessons. I would listen to them at least twice before carrying on to the next lesson (it depends of course on how quickly you absorb the lessons as we all learn differently).
TGLF: For anyone wanting to brush up their French what is your recommendation for using the programme?
Start with lesson 20 onwards and practice your listening skills with my subjects of the week (level 3, 4). But most of all learn all the main grammatical points to start with. Learning how the language works and is built will help you spot the right tenses in a text or a conversation for example so you won’t feel lost when it comes to listening or reading French.You may prefer learning basic French in a very formulaic way, by this I mean learn full sentences without knowing how it is constructed: e.g. “Je voudrais 2 bières s’il vous plait”. This is fine in a short term or if you are only aiming to learn basic French or get by on holiday but if you want to discover the language I would suggest you need to know a little bit about its grammatical formulas/rules. Indeed it is a bit like when you apply a mathematical formula correctly, you will always obtain an accurate result, so knowing for example that you use the verb ending -ais- with the first person subject pronoun in the imperfect tense will help you spot any imperfect tense in the future. Might sound daunting but it is not as hard as it seems, it is all about learning one rule at a time.
I hope that Mark will become a confident learner using my methodology. I have created short video lessons for YouTube based on my original course and recommend Mark to follow them as well.
We leave the last word to Alexa:
I would love to create a language program which will take place in France; I would travel all around France and use the French people as my tool for teaching. Discover different idioms, dialects and accents. Ah accents! What a challenge! Did you know that I still watch Scottish films or Irish films with the subtitles even after 20 years of practicing English….?
The first 15 lessons of my popular French for Beginners course to learn French online are absolutely free. The total running time of this free course is over 6 and a half hours! I hope you enjoy them – click here
Also, we’ve added a selection of other lessons here from various lesson categories so that you have a flavour of the diversity in the lessons and what you can expect when you become a member. Enjoy!
Find out more on Alexa’s website: Learn French with Alexa