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Going French in Mangawhai

Nathalie Branco-461Moving to a new country for love is a tale of romance and adventure, however imagine being surrounded by an alien culture whose language and idioms are completely foreign to you.

Talented French tri-linguist and qualified nurse, Nathalie Branco, found herself in just that situation nine years ago when she followed her partner David Bonometti, chef and co-owner of the Frog & Kiwi restaurant, out to Aotearoa.

At the time Branco could not speak a word of English but bravely immersed herself in the local lingo when she began her first New Zealand job at Warkworth’s Honey Centre.

“It was complicated,” she says in her enchanting Southern France accent. “No one spoke French at the shop so I had no choice, I just had to learn.”

Now fluent in French, Spanish and English, although admittedly she says her Spanish has slipped a little due to few chances to converse, Branco is offering locals a chance to learn her native tongue.

Inspiration to become a language tutor came after Branco joined the team at the Frog & Kiwi and noticed a number of the cafe clientele spoke a spattering of French.

“Two years ago I started teaching two ladies who are in France at the moment, and an American man,” she says. “His French became very good and we used to walk on local beaches and practice conversations.”

While students so far have been adults, she is available to teach younger French enthusiasts including college students who are studying the language. Even young children who may be travelling to France with their families may benefit from lessons she says, as having some understanding of the language may help make a trip to foreign land not so overwhelming.

“The lessons can be adapted for suit young children,” Branco says. “I use more imagery and cartoons to make learning easier for them.”

Total immersion may be one method to learn a foreign language, but Branco offers a less formidable and more supportive approach. Beginning with an assessment to ascertain how much or how little French the student knows, lessons proceed at a level and pace of the learner.

“French can be a difficult language to learn due to its complexities,” Branco says. “There are a lot of plural and single, feminine and masculine words to learn, it can be very complex.”

“For a learner, we start with basic, useful phrases such as ‘What is your name?’ and ‘Where do you live?’ and popular verbs like eat, drink,” she says. “And you can speak English with me, I’m not like one of those strict classes where no other language is allowed.” If interested contact Nathalie on 021 046 0574, nanou.ifsi@hotmail.fr or call in at the Frog & Kiwi, The Hub, Mangawhai.

TUTOR: Nathalie Branco is teaching French to a growing number of language enthusiasts.

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