Molly and her delicious French Learning Journey
The one year learning French in Paris with Novexpat integrated Molly and her family into the true French culture of la joie de vivre.
Molly moved to Saint-Cloud Paris with her family in 2019 from Washington D.C - a true foodista, a well-loved food blogger of Vanilla Bean Cuisine. She was also a successful marketing executive of Apple in the US a few years back.
The French Learning Journey of Molly in Paris begins…
with her delicious dream to expand her book of exquisite gourmets, and be inspired by the true French culture - a culture that takes every meal times as miracle moments of life. As we all know, the French focus on quality over quantity ;)
The one year learning French in Paris with Novexpat integrated Molly and her family into the true French culture of la joie de vivre. More importantly, it opened up her palette of richness to truly taste what it is like to be a real local parisienne..
Here is an interview she had with Carrie So, our storyteller of the Novexpat community:
Q: What do you do in life, Molly?
In life, my biggest passion is food. I am a happy recipe blogger. I come up with my own delicious and healthy recipes! And then I take mouth-watering food pictures and write about them for my website.
Q: What motivated you to learn French in Paris?
France has always been a country that I wanted to live in. For me, French is a beautiful language. I've always loved it. There was no doubt in my mind since I was 12 that I will one day speak French. Having the opportunity to move here in Paris with my husband motivated me to take up the challenge once again.
But what I have discovered about the language was far beyond what I could have imagined. I discovered the exquisite food culture through learning the beautiful language. For example, back home in the US, there is nothing sacred about meals: everyone eats at their own speed, depending on their appetite. Here in France, food is about sharing collective values and moments. Being in France was home-coming for me!
“Being in France was home-coming for me!”
Living in France for Molly...
Q: What do you love the most about living in France?
I would say the international community that I got to meet here. It has been a really enriching experience to get to know people from all over the world like me trying to learn French, and who have had similar experiences in this very particular foreign land. We were able to share different perspectives from our origins and culture. It challenges all of us, the way life has to be.
Q: Did the experience of Paris change for you once you have mastered your French?
Yes, certainly. My experience in Paris has changed when I started to be treated NOT like a tourist. The more that I was at ease with the language, the more I felt that I belonged in the city! Finally, I could call it my home. I love the moments when I was finally able to comment about something that's happening in the news, or the bad weather and, most importantly, asking questions about where the food comes from in the market!
“My experience in Paris has changed when I started to be treated NOT like a tourist.”
Molly's Challenges Faced in Learning French
Q:What challenges have you faced in learning French?
It has been a struggle to be honest! In the beginning, due to my confidence level, when I tried to speak in French, everyone answered me back in English. The situation was absolutely disheartening! In fact, I was so uncomfortable with daily interactions in French that I could not even bring my dog to the dog groomer. I felt that I needed to chit-chat with the woman who works there in French, and I couldn't. Most of all, I was not able to ask questions about the vegetables in the market for my latest recipe!
The problem was that I could make sense of verb tenses, vocabulary and how different phrases could be put together in a sentence. But everything stayed in my head, and nothing came out from my month. I was blocked. I was so afraid to make mistakes. I always second guess myself in front of people. I tried some language programmes that allow you to listen to a certain phrase and then repeat it back out loud. It helped a little bit, but it was just unnatural and felt totally forced.
Q: What are some tools or programs that you used?
I used pimsleur, an online language learning programme. It was helpful in the beginning. However, I realised it's limitations when it comes to real life scenarios. I also took several classes with Alliance Française, which is a more traditional French language class. I did enjoy it but there were too many people in one single class to practice speaking. The experience overall did not integrate my learning to my everyday life in Paris unfortunately. I remained at the level of just understanding the language - in my head only.
“It seemed that I could make sense of verb tenses, vocabulary and how different phases could be put together in a sentence. But everything stayed in my head!”
Molly's Unique Experiences with novexpat
Q: Which program did you join at Novexpat?
I started off joining their 8-weeks FrenchBooster program in the fall of 2020. Afterward, I continued with their weekly online conversation classes to dive deep into specific topics and interesting life scenarios in France. What I enjoyed the most out of the full experience of FrenchBooster for example, was being coached by my professor one-to-one. She followed my progress and aspirations during the 8 weeks. My goal at the time was to sound natural in French! She put together a bunch of vocabulary expressions, articles about different concepts around healthy eating. It was so much fun to discover together with her!
Q: Great. Give us One Word to describe your experience with Novexpat?
I would say SUPPORTIVE. The professors in the school recognise every effort that you make in your learning journey. I found that it is such an encouraging environment to always try harder in French, and to get past fear of saying something wrong. Because no matter what I said during the class - right or wrong, local-sounding or not – the professor in the class was able to use what I said to give me timely, relevant and useful feedback to help me progress. For me, this is special.
“The professor in the class was able to use what I said to give me timely, relevant and useful feedback to help me progress. For me, this is special.”
Molly's Secret Recipe (tips) in learning French
Q: What advice can you give to our French learning community at Novexpat?
My advice would be to just speak with any native around you, and not be afraid to make mistakes. French people are actually very welcoming if you make an effort to interact with them. And if you're living in the city, it's pretty easy to find places to practice. For example, in your own quartier, begin by getting familiar with the same bakery and shops. Again, I would say: Start Small. If you can open up a tiny conversation on easy topics, such as weather or ask about how they're doing, you begin to develop relationships with the locals! Once the relationships are established, you feel more confident to express yourself naturally.
Bonus sharing from Molly 🙌
Q: Share with us two French phrases that you have adopted and started to use in your everyday life?
As a food blogger, I ask what it means to buy organic food and eat healthy. In order to enrich my professional life in France, I dedicated my learning with my professor to discover different vocabulary around foods. This way, I can source all ingredients that I need. One word that I have learned is Manger Sain. It simply means to eat healthy. It helps me to advocate healthy eating, which is a must for me! Before, I didn't even know how to convey a simple concept as such.
Another French word that I have learned that has to do with food is the concept of Le terroir. In France, there are various regions where food or wine comes from, and the nature of the soil where things are grown actually makes the products different from one another. France really values the history and the different characters in their foods. Each part of France has certain properties that make their food or the wine interesting. Le terroir is a concept that inspired me hugely in the understanding of French's cuisines and its culture of quality living.