Lepetitjournal.com in Stockholm met this French teacher like no other, who makes you feel comfortable practicing your speaking skills. In particular, he creates French life experiences through play.
Fabienne Roy for lepetitjournal.com Stockholm: Tell us about your experience abroad .
Stéphane le Ruyet: I started my career in Venezuela at the Alliance Française in Caracas where I made my debut as a teacher. In particular I taught many adults, each with their own experience and learning profile. Apart from bimonthly intermediate objectives and a common learning path to guide us, we had total freedom of teaching techniques. Over there, I discovered a favorable ground to express my taste for innovation. I continued the experience intermittently between France and Latin America, especially in Mexico where I started as an independent French teacher - with all the challenges and joys of business freedom. I then branched off for a Spanish adventure in Murcia before joining my partner in Sweden. I have now worked in Stockholm for several years, through our company Tailored French AB, and year after year we have broadened our type of clientele. I teach students who range from pre-teenagers who have not yet studied French at school to young people in school; from professionals studying geopolitical issues for their missions in French-speaking Africa to adults focused on daily conversation, and companies who fear the pitfalls of interculturality.
How is your experience different? What are you most proud of?
I will start by specifying that, in my opinion, a language is first and foremost spoken. Language teaching in school is unfortunately centered on writing and the lack of oral practice is well known, but not solved. Teaching and assessment structures are often far too rigid and too hierarchical to allow teachers, particularly of languages, to carry out their innovative projects. By meeting many people all over the world who could manage - or even speak French very well - without having studied it, it was shocking to note on the other hand the frustrated silence of those who had learned this language in school. And this was the case in all the countries where I passed. I started from this sad observation to analyze what made “it work”. So I became an explorer and above all, an investigator: with my students, with specialists in cognitive disorders, psychologists, specialists in memory, in emotional intelligence ... Then starting from there, I moved on to a phase of setting up optimal conditions for learning, through experiences of all kinds, using staging techniques through simulation games and multi-sensory input, always with the joy of learning at the heart of the matter; being oneself, making the learner feel that yes, she / he too is ”gifted for languages”! It's a revenge on my own academic frustration and I'm relieved that I can avoid it for others today. It even happened to me several times that I receive a grateful hug from certain students; I think that says a lot about the despair, the fear of being “bad” which was theirs. We helped them to open an additional door to the world: that of the Francophonie. And what a joy to see them take pleasure in using a subjunctive that is no longer used in Swedish, for example.
What prompted you to apply for the French Expats Trophies?
I'm hardly into advertising and social media. But besides having the know-how, letting people know about it is necessary! Not that I don't like the idea of communicating, on the contrary, but I like having someone in front of me to talk to. If possible, in the flesh! I also think that many colleagues are working in the same direction and that synergies are always welcome - increased visibility is a very positive factor. The opportunity was tempting. And who knows, great encounters could ensue ...
What does winning an award in your category mean to you: What do you think you bring on an educational level?
As I explained above, I hope to make traditional language lessons more attractive and much more effective in oral practice. There are many tracks that are already experienced, but they need adjustment to work. If we take only the example of the published educational games (with the exception of those intended for 1-9 years of age), they reproduce all the choices that do not work in a traditional course: these games have nothing stimulating, nor fun, neither immersive in them. Usually, when these kinds of games aren't effective, the student is blamed for being “unreceptive”. There are some wonderful mechanics of learning by playing available today, but they are never present in games labeled "educational". It's such a waste! Being a teacher is terribly demanding and time consuming. Tools like these replicas of the real world that are board games and role-playing games are always more varied, inexpensive and innovative, and can be made available to students and make a fundamental difference to their learning.
What are your professional expectations for the coming year? What are your projects ?
We are actively preparing for the post-Covid with renewed face-to-face activities, as well as new solutions to offer a digitalization of our experience. We are working on prototype games that are truly educational and exciting outside of the classroom. Test sessions with many variations were conducted with young students and constitute a major source of information to ideally integrate knowledge and course support. It remains to test them on adults who want a conversation "all orally". Then to edit them, knowing that they are designed to be easily digitized later. We hope that 2021 will be the year of immersive learning, in particular surfing on this formidable demand from 20-40 year olds around the new generation of board games. More than ever, people are thirsty for experiences and exchanges.