Prêt à Parler – expert in online French courses

Prêt à Parler – expert in online French courses

What do you get when a French-Canadian opera singer lands in Geneva? (No, it’s not one of those jokes!) Quick answer: an expat-oriented, 100% online professional French language school. In other words: Prêt à Parler.

FYI: yes, your feeling is right – this is a sponsored article . But, as always, it is about a company/product I know, tested, and trust.

You know the story: you arrive as an expat in Geneva on a “short contract” only to realise 10 years later that you’re still here and still don’t really speak French well enough, especially when it comes to all those online forms, doing your taxes and even applying for a Swiss Passport. Add to that the stress of finding the time to get out of the house the same time each week to attend a French-language class, and of course getting through the notorious Geneva traffic, hunting for parking or navigating TPG. All while balancing the laundry, groceries, a job and a kid or kids at home. 

This is where Prêt à Parler comes in. My husband, P, has been using it and it has been brilliant. He can go about his day, work, child-care – you name it – and once a week he simply logs in for one-hour of French lessons. On the other side of the screen is one of the ‘Super Profs’ as they call them, waiting to start a lesson that will feel more like a conversation than schoolwork, where grammar finds its way in without you even realising it.

But hey, didn’t you say there was an opera singer? What’s that got to do with teaching French?

Ah, oui! The opera singer in question is Isabelle Nicolas-Johnson, the founder of Prêt à Parler. Her opera background has helped her become an expert in articulation and pronunciation, as she attended many diction classes (French, English, Italian, and German) as part of her studies. 

Over the years, she has developed special French pronunciation tips – and I don’t know about you, but this is where my husband and I struggle the most, especially with that French ‘r’.

About Prêt à Parler

Prêt à Parler brought digital education to Geneva way before COVID-19 forced everyone to move online. Isabelle launched her online programs back in 2017 when the word “corona” was only associated with a bottle of cold beer. (Don’t you miss those days?) Before she knew it, she was training a team of top bilingual teachers as well as her communication and IT support experts. 

Prêt à Parler is a local expert in online French courses. It offers one-on-one classes, webinars, and preparatory courses for the FIDE exam (soon-to-be obligatory for those applying for a Swiss C permit, or a Swiss passport). They also developed their own learning platform called French for Everyday Life and share a ton of tips and mini-lessons on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (handy for someone like me who spends a lot of time on those sites!), so you can give the idea of an online French class a try. 

Benefit 1: Personalisation

Isabelle always knew that a one-size-fits-all approach would not work in education. We all have different styles of learning, interests, and reasons to learn a new language. Each course is personalised and adapted to your needs (meaning no two classes are the same!) 

Need helping writing a formal letter? They will turn it into a class. Didn’t understand the programme you watched yesterday? They can turn it into a listening exercise. You basically get to turn REAL life into a useful learning exercise.

Benefit 2: The teachers

All Prêt à Parler teachers have been carefully selected for their professional, technological and personal skills. Plus, they know everything there is to know about that (in)famous FIDE exam.

After a trial lesson (super helpful), my husband was certain he had finally found a program matching his needs. He scheduled his lessons at 9 pm. Yes, you read that right, 9 in the evening. What!? How!? Well, it turns out his teacher, Sandra, is a native French-speaker who currently lives in New Zealand. 9 pm here – 9 am there. That is the beauty of online training programs – both the teacher and the student can be anywhere in the world.

Benefit 3: Comfort and flexibility

We are all different, with different lives, and different chaos (aka work-life balance), yet many language schools are set up as such so that you have to adapt to their schedule. Prêt à Parler offers a flexible solution (side note, it’s also great for introverts like me who don’t love the idea of group classes with strangers each week!)

My husband’s lessons each last 1 hour. Not 1 hour plus 40 minutes commute each way. Not 1 hour plus anything. There is no stress about traffic jams, the bus being late, or finding a parking spot. Not only does he have his lessons tailored to his specific needs, but improving his French doesn’t interfere with his work-life or his family life. 

When it comes to scheduling your lessons, it can be late at night, early in the morning, or even on a Sunday. Your private classes can be rescheduled if needed within 24h. It means that no last-minute business trip, your child getting sick or vacation will be an obstacle in boosting your French! That is, as long as you have an Internet connection, of course. 

And this is all possible thanks to an opera singer from Quebec who moved to Geneva. After all, who better to understand and cater to expats than a fellow expat? 

PRACTICAL INFO

Over 30 creative ways to keep kids occupied during Covid-19 crisis

Over 30 creative ways to keep kids occupied during Covid-19 crisis

How about some fun kids activities without shopping for new toys? How about using what we have to occupy kids and avoid turning the house into a hurricane disaster.

It’s the time to use the balloons from the last birthday party, to get the Christmas lights back from the basement, and use that adhesive tape that we bought in bulks who knows what for.

Let’s do it!

FYI: Prentville’s calendar is now devoted to online events only. It is filled with workshops and sports streaming classes for kids, new mamas, and parents-only support session. Be sure to check it regularly!

SPORTS

Kids don’t need an endless pile of worksheets and colouring pages. They need to move and it is doable in apartments of all sizes.

Obstacle course

One of the most beloved indoor kids activity of all ages! A forward roll on a bed, hopping on one leg, crwal through the hallway, balance on sofa coushins and a slalom between the shoes. Every item can be used in this indoor obstacle course, let kids help create it – they will come up with the best obstacles. This activity is great also because it can be adapted to every age! You can see how we did it here.

Golf

Well aka mini golf, or kind of mini-golf (if you have a better name, please let know!). Use balls of various sizes, same sizes, any sizes. Then use plastic/papaer cups, or party hats, or boxes as goals. As for the golf clubs, we used small tennis rackets, a friend used a towel rail from the bathroom. I can imagine kitchen utensils also useful.

Balloon tennis

It can be a tennis game if you use anything as rackets or volleyball if you play with your hands. Grab two chairs and a sheet or drape to for a net. Play, keep score. For the tennis you need some adpted rules (for example how many times the balloon can be touched by a player before moving to th other part of the net).

Ice-scating

This one comes with a bonus of clean floors! All you need are two damp cloths per kid. They step with each foot on on cloth and voila – ice skating ready. Turn the music on, make them think about choreography. The can prepare a show (make them busy: a show needs a poster, tickets, maybe snacks). Just keep the cloths damp and enjoy your clean floors. You’re welcome!

Hopscotch

A game so easy to organise outside, even on a balcony, but how to do it inside? Get that adhesive tape and stick to the floor in a shape of the hopscotch plan. Voila! It should keep them busy for a while and can stay on the floor for as long as you want, to be reused any time.

SCREEN TIME

How to turn the screen time into something more valuable? Use games, inspiring Youtube channels, and more!

COSMIC YOGA

This is so far the best yoga for kids YT channel I have ever seen. It’s especially great for all the kids (like mine) who consider yoga boring. Jaime turns stories, and well-known movies, or books into great yoga adventures! She is brilliant, we are hooked. It comes in a form of an app and as a Youtube channel.

NASA

Nasa is one of the institutions that quickly created online resources to help us stay at home in a good mood. NasaAtHome has a whole section devoted to families with games, videos, and propositions of scientific activities to try at home.

ART FOR KIDS HUB

At this hub the most important thing is to have FUN! This amazing family teaches kids (and their parents) how to draw in a fun way. The result is not so important, but every kid will learn some cool drawing tricks! Check them out at artforkidshub.com.

AR Animals by GOOGLE

Open a browser on your smartphone, go to google and type a name of an animal into the search bar. One of the first things to see in the results will be an option to see this animal in 3D/AR. Tap on it and voila! You can have a tiger on your sofa, or a panda in your bed, we opted for a penguin in our bathroom.

A STOP MOTION MOVIE

There are plenty of free apps you can use to create a stop-motion movie with a smartphone or a tablet! The movie can star toys, lego figurines, or drawings and paper cut-outs. The sky is the limit!

MINECRAFT

The creative mode of minecraft can be used even by young kids (5+). Some silly monstery-creatures will still appear but will not attack. The creative mode offers unlimited access to all of the resources and building materials, so kids can make whatever they wish – a farm (with animals of course), a tree house, a skyscraper… It’s like playing with unlimited lego bricks online!

Recently, I published a guest post by Techlabs with 5 more ideas of using screens/technology to have fun. You can read it here.

SCIENCE

Science experiments for kids are a bit like magic tricks. Don’t be surprised if your kids are not interested in the theory and explanations behind. The point is to wow them a bit, to spark an interest in a new field, and most importantly to occupy them. Some ingredients may not be easy to find during COVID-19 epidemic, but there are many you may already have.

An erupting Volcano

An old-time classic. An erupting volcano is very easy and always satisfying. The only danger is that some kids will ask to repeat it over and over again.

You’ll need a bottle (glass or plastic), warm water, few drops of red food colouring (or liquid watercolours), 1 tbsp dish soap, 2 tbsp baking soda (fr. bicarbonate de soude), and vinegar.

Fill the bottle up to 2/4 with warm water. Add food colouring and dish soap. Mix well. Put the baking soda inside. Ready? Pour your vinegar in and watch the volcano erupt! You can make it even more fun by building a volcano with salt dough (and a bottle in the middle).

A FOAM MACHINE

Pure fun! It’s not really a scientific experiment, it’s just fun. Take a plastic bottle, cut off its bottom (be careful). Now, cover this new hole with a sock. Dip the sock-end in a water-dish soap mix and blow through the end you would normally use for drinking. You can see how it works here.

Microbes on our hands

I recently performed two experiments with Z to show her how the microbes can be widely transmitted by our hands, and how washing our hands thouroughly helps.

The first one is simple and fast: all you need is some glitter, water, and a bowl. Ask your child to dip their palms in the water mixed with glitter, then shake hands, touch door handles etc and observe how glitters stays everywhere. Then, wash hands quickly with just water. Observe. Now, ask them to wash their hands thouroughly with soap. For a better effect dip their hands in glitter again before washing hands with soap. You can see us in action with this experiment here.

The second experiment takes a few days of observation – just until you’re all grossed out. You will need minimum 5 loves of bread, and 5 zip bags. The first slice of bread need to go to a zip bag straight from the packaging without being touched. Use the second slice to wipe the keyboard of your computer and put it in a separate zip bag. The other zip bags are for slices generously touched by dirty hands, hands washed with soap, and hands washed with a sanitizer. Can you guess which one will be the fastest to develop mold? Soon on IGTV.

A cloud in a jar

It’s simple and pretty, and has to do with density, but honestly just let them have fun and watch the rain. You will need: a jar, water, shaving foam, a dropper, and food coloring (or liquid watercolors). Fill the jar 4/5 with water, build a cupcake-like shape with foam on top. Now, drop some drops of food colouring (colour of your choice) on the shaving foam and wait them to drop in the water. As I said, pretty and simple. Z. will show you how to do it here.

EGGS Experiments

Do you know what will happen if you dip an egg in vinegar for 24-48 hours? It’s shell will dissolve, and the egg will become a lot like a rubber ball (but stil be careful). Don’t tell your kids what will happen, let them be wowed. I will be soon showing it on Instagram. You can also take a hard-boiled egg and a raw one, spin them both on the table and then suddenly tap them both with your fingers – gently but as you would like them to stop spinning. Move your finger away quickly. Which egg is still spinning? Do you know why? Also, were they spinning with the same speed?

We will be trying out and showing you more science fun on Instagram and Instagram TV. Follow us on Instagram to stay informed!

ARTS & CRAFTS

Collect boxes, yoghurt cups, plastic bottles, toilet paper rolls, all the crafts materials you have at home and use your kids’ imagination to create. You can make mini houses, barbie houses, garages, animals, and Easter decorations! Or… use the ideas below.

ANTI-STRESS BALLOON

Z was missing her anti-stress balloon she had made at school, so we made one at home. I had no idea how but she guided me perfectly! You need 2-3 balloons, a funnel, and flour. You can see here how to combine the 3.

A dollhouse

Grab a box adapted to your doll’s size, any accessories that come to your head and create a house. You can even have working lights in there by adding Christmas lights! Smaller boxes can be made into furniture. You can see ours here.

MAGAZINES

Any newspapers and old magazines lying around? Use them to create mosaics, mood boards, or your own books/comic books.

CARDBOARD BOX

Apart from turning it into a dolls house or a garage, what can we do with a box? This list is endless! It could become a:

We will surely create some things ourselves soon, as well as trying everything from the list above. Follow us on Instagram to stay informed!

GAMES

No need to look for an online shop and quick deliveries. You may already have what is needed to easily make new family games.

Twister

Any white sheet/drape/table cloth will do. We used a disposable tablecloth, on which we painted 24 circles (4 rows of 6 circles), with whatever colours we had. The spinner was a bit of a challenge but a paper plate, a straw, and few lego bricks later we had (an almost) perfect spinner. The internet is full of other ideas for spinners – check them out. We spent around 30 minutes doing the whole game and we play every day. You can see our twister here.

Hide’n’Seek

This is Z’s favourite activity for our days in. Every apartment has got god hiding places, especially for kids. It’s tricky to find adult-sized hideouts but also doable (in the bathtub, behind the shower curtain, behind the doors, in the closets, under the desk, behind the window curtain, under the bed, etc. Kids’ smiles guaranteed!

Lego hunt

You will need 4 pieces of coloured paper (or table cloth, etc.) in 4 different colours. Now, pick 10 lego bricks of each colour and hide them in one room/the whole place and lay out the coloured paper on the table/floor. Kids need to find all the bricks and bring them to the paper of matching colour. To motivate them – add a timer!

Scavenger hunt

Make a list of 10-15 objects kids cn find around the house. You can use pictures for smaller kids, and text for older ones. You can add specific things (“your favorite car”) or general categories like “something beige” or “something that begins with the letter D”.

Spider web darts

Get that sticky tape again and source some old newspapers. Use a door frame to create a spider web – tape’s sticky side facing one way. Roll up pieces of old newspapers into balls and throw at the web. Or use different light objects (socks, balloons, etc.) to check what sticks and what doesn’t (or how long t sticks).

Toilet seat dress up

Using two rolls of toilet paper create the eyes, an old paper roll can be used a tongue sticking out. Now – hats, necklaces, and other accessories are needed to make it fun. You can give this creature a name and dress him up for hours or once a day. Desperate times, desperate measures…

Charades

Make each family member come up with 5-10 different animals, characters, or family members and write their names on small pieces of paper. Fold them all, put them in a hat (or a bowl) and play charades. Most kids love it, most adults have fun playing it, so it’s a perfect game for family time!

ALPHABET PLATE

Now this one may seem easy but it was actually a school assignment for an 11 yo son of a friend of mine in London. But I think that with some adjustments (the size of the plate, that can become a tray or a box), and more help from an adult, it can be a game for everyone 4+.

The goal is simple: bring to the plate objects from around the house starting with each letter of the alphabet. They must all fit into the plate, so be careful with the size of the items. For older kids you can add complexity by asking them to also find, for each item, an adjective starting with the same letter. Good luck!

BOWLING

Plastic bottles can be used as bowling pins and any ball will do. No plastic bottles? Use toilet paper, plush toys, empty boxes. It should come with typical bowling snacks and drinks to feel more real 🙂

5 Creepy French Songs For Kids

5 Creepy French Songs For Kids

Do you know what your children sing in French? The tune is very joyful, the words sound sweet, but what are some of these songs really about? Read more about 5 creepy French songs for kids and find out.

Most of them are absolutely sweet and adorable. But there are some hidden gems in the French rhymes, that don’t bother to hide the cruelty of the world from the kids.

French songs for kids Parentville Geneva Children

Ready for 5 creepy French songs for kids? Let’s go from the least creepy down to the most terrifying one, so you can stop reading the moment you feel uncomfortable.

    • Une Souris Verte (lyrics to be found here). Ever thought of dipping a (green!) mouse in hot oil to transform it into a snail? Well, your child might 😉 Luckily, a chance for finding a green mouse is very limited.
    • Marlbrough S’En Va-T’En Guerre (lyrics here). An absolutely adorable song in terms of the melody, with a rhythm perfect for a long walk. But it’s a out a man who goes on a war, dies, is buried, and his wife must sleep all alone. Amazing how this sad text is sung to such tuneful sounds!
    • Allouette (for the lyrics click here). One of the most popular nursery rhymes about a little bird. If you don’t speak French, you probably thing it’s the cutest song ever. Nope. It’s about plucking feathers from each part of the poor skylark’s body. Have fun!
    • Ne Pleur Pas Jeanette (lyrics: here). If you’re a happy-end loving kind of person, it’s not a song for you. The song tells a story about Jeanette who’d rather choose death by hanging with her friend, than to mary a guy the family chose for her. They hung them on the highest branch, la la la la.
    • La Légende de Saint Nicolas (lyrics for courageous here). Oh la la. That is the most terrifying story ever. Kids get lost in a forest, a butcher offers them shelter, kills them, cuts them and puts them in the salting-tubs. Sigh. There is a sort-of-happy-ending to the story luckily.

The French have been singing these songs for generations. I hope you’ll agree there is no sign of these songs turning the French speakers into creepy adults. Thus, you don’t have to fear your child’s future. Better learn French and sing along with them!

Now, you can learn French with Parentville thanks to Frantastique – a super duper funny French teaching app, that will take just 10 minutes of your day. You can sign up for the first 30 days for free with no obligation to go further, you will not be asked for your credit card details. Intrigued? Read more about it and sign up here.

 

The point of this article is to shed some light, laugh a bit, and give you an insight into this so often forgot part of the culture children grow up in. Before you get scared, before the criticism starts itching your tongue, think hard about your own culture and the songs you sung. Here are some good example for native English speakers: It’s Raining, It’s Pouring, London Bridge, and more here.

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