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After Brexit, why is it still crucial to learn foreign languages?

Read the personal testimonials from some of Karine’s clients below to find out…

Melissa McCloy

I learnt French at school but other than some basic grammar I had all but forgotten the language. Seventeen years ago my husband and I bought an apartment in the South of France. We try and go over to France once a month. There is not much incentive to speak French when we are there because all the French people we come across speak perfect English and indeed prefer to do so rather than listen to me struggling to construct the most basic of sentences.

A little while ago I decided that I should make an effort to speak French when we visit our apartment so I decided to take up the language again as I was rusty to say the least! Basically I had to start from scratch. I have found that learning a language has sharpened my mind and my powers of retention have improved. I am now very disciplined - I study French every day - this can be work set by Karine, listening to current news, vocabulary or working on an aspect of grammar. 

Thanks to Karine I am confident enough to speak French when we are over in France - I know that sometimes I do not get the grammar quite right but I am learning from my mistakes!

As for Karine, she is a brilliant teacher - she is very patient and nothing is too much trouble. She is an extremely busy person but she still finds time to visit my house and give me an invaluable French lesson which I really look forward to. Karine makes the language interesting whereas the French I learnt at school was just dull and boring. From time to time Karine arranges a lunch at her house when all her students are invited. Not only is this a fantastic get together but also the whole time we are there, French is the only spoken word! This is a wonderful way to improve speaking skills and gain confidence at the same time. I surprised myself with how long I could speak French without running out of conversation.

I would wholeheartedly recommend Karine - not only is she a brilliant teacher but she is also a good friend. My dogs absolutely adore her so she definitely has the seal of approval in our household!

Tim Unsworth

I retired from a career in Trading Standards in 2013 and I study French and Spanish, and very recently started on German, for two quite different reasons and, maybe unusually, neither is about their practical use. Principally, I study to keep my mind sharp. I’m fascinated by the way the brain works and I find it very interesting that I get the same feelings when I study grammar as when I study maths.

The other reason is the sheer joy of listening. I often say ‘le français, c’est la musique!’ Spanish similarly, though that is more a matter of the rhythms than the sounds. It’s like when you hear a tune and then there’s a repeat with just a little variation which then stands out.  So, in Spanish, generally, the accent is on the second last syllable and then they throw in an ess-DROO-hoo-lah. Magic.

I am an adult learner and have had classes with Karine most weeks for over a year, and I can’t see myself stopping anytime soon. Karine is very flexible and we have an arrangement that gives me just what I need. I am particularly keen on improving my hearing skills and Karine, a native speaker, has perfect diction and, a rare ability for a ‘français/e,’ she can speak slowly! Highly recommended.

Nicholas Tatham

Master of Wine & Wine Buyer

For my part, I learnt French to assist me in my job as French wine buyer when I was at Sainsbury’s…I had done it at school to A level but was not very good . I found it incredibly useful so that I could discuss business in the language of the country and both gain respect and have a better understanding of the culture . It also was immensely useful in negotiations , reading French language marketing material , understanding menus , going on holidays and feeling comfortable in a foreign country.

Richard Guy

Managing Director

Why learn a foreign language? They all speak English, don’t they?

Maybe. But to gain the most from visiting the country involved and, even more importantly to trade with them, it is essential to learn the language. And French and Spanish are spoken in so many places.

With some understanding of French and Spanish, you can communicate with nearly a quarter of the world’s population. The whole of Latin America except Brazil, Vietnam, Laos, Morocco, Quebec.

Don’t miss out. Learn the language!

Jon Moffatt

Site Continuous Improvement Leader at GKN Aerospace

I learned French for GCSE, later I was able to study abroad in France whilst studying engineering, and later work there. Learning a foreign language has meant a great deal to me, it has opened my eyes to other cultures in a way you just can't get as an English speaking tourist. I think it is important to remember you can combine language with other subjects, to keep learning fun and immersive (internet radio, movies etc helps) and make an effort to get experience in the culture as soon as possible. The best part of living abroad and speaking another language has been the amazing people you meet and the lifelong friendships you make.

Ben Bodman

Chef in French Restaurant

When I was in school, I didn’t take French lessons very seriously. I didn’t think I would need to learn French for my life outside of school. It was my lowest grade by two grades when I received my GCSE results and for a while I didn’t think much of it; that was until I decided I wanted to work in the French Alps doing a ski season. I found myself unable to hold a basic conversation with bar staff, shop assistants, pisteurs and a lot of people I met snow-boarding on the mountains. I ended up visiting friends in the South of France after the season and working for a client in mid-France during the summer and found my lack of French infuriating. I’ve just come back from a second winter season in Méribel and have started French lessons which I know are going to come in useful in the future.

Thomas Webber

Head of Purchasing at B&Q

I am Head of Purchasing at B&Q and languages have helped to get me where I am today. I studied a number of foreign languages at GCSE level and then continued with French and German (along with Business Studies) for my A Levels. For my degree I continued on the same path and studied Management and French. Being able to use languages has enabled me to spend time abroad, meeting lots of different people and gaining an appreciation for other cultures. As part of this I worked in France for a number of summers during my studies, a very enjoyable experience that helped me grow as an individual. Speaking the language was vital to living and working in France properly. More recently, languages have helped me to develop an interesting career working for large international companies.

Ben Slater

Development Manager - Bouygues UK

“I have been learning French with Karine for a year. I studied GCSE French some years ago but decided to learn the language again in order to hopefully live in France one day. I work for a French company and learning the language has been invaluable even though I'm now in my 30's. I also hope to own a vineyard in France in the future; and I have quickly learnt that being able to speak the language is essential.

I only wish I had spent more time learning the language when I left school!!”

John Edmunds

Retired Businessman

Why do I recommend that you learn a foreign language e.g French or Spanish or both

•      Secondary Education

–     When I was at Grammar School in Bristol it was compulsory to learn a foreign language. Indeed, I studied French and Latin until I was 16. I did not realise the future benefits of foreign languages when I was at school. If I knew what was going to happen for the next 50 years in my life I would have studied French or Spanish up to A level.

–     Benefits to the English Language – Understanding the English language is made easier as many English words are derived from French, Spanish and Latin

–     I did pass my examination in French and certainly felt that I obtained a basic understanding which was extremely valuable to myself in later life.

•      When I left school I studied further and took up a career in Food Product Development which was based on my science Degree. Why would I need French for this career?

–     I found myself making many visits to France and other European countries to further my knowledge of the Dairy Industry. It was essential at this stage to have a working knowledge of the French Language.

–      Importing French yogurt for the UK Market – my excursions into France intensified as I was given responsibility for importing yogurt into the UK. This involved close communications with Senior French speaking technologists. I would have been unable to achieve my objectives if I had no understanding of French.

•      Camping with the family – in order to provide my young family with adequate summer holidays we invested in a trailer tent. Every summer we travelled further into France and saw almost all regions from the North to South Coast. It made it much easier to enjoy the holiday on a daily basis being able to communicate with the locals.

•      2 French homes – After the camping finished we invested in 2 small properties in France. This involved meetings with French Estate Agents, Solicitors and builders and required a full understanding of French Property Law. Once again the foundations that had been laid in earlier lifer were extremely beneficial.

•      Other countries using French and Spanish as main language – we have family and friends who have worked in many other countries. One of our relatives works in Venezuela and uses his Spanish to good avail. Two close friends worked in Switzerland for 6 years and found their French knowledge extremely important in their daily life.

•      Current objectives – I am now keen to become fluent in French and now spend at least one hour per day listening to French on my I Pod.

CONCLUSION   -   You never know what the future holds. Broaden your opportunities by learning a foreign language. It will pay you a handsome reward in the long term.

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Reference from John Edmunds on 12.07.2022

Karine Chevalier-Watts

Karine has been my first class French teacher on a one-to-one basis over the last eight years. 

She is an excellent and professional teacher and we meet twice per month throughout the year for up to one and a half hours each time.

Each lesson is very well prepared by Karine and includes the following:-


The focus on improving my listening skills - Interesting and current French subjects are provided using a combination of oral and written word. As a result my ability to hear French conversations has improved immensely. I am also able to start conversations in a wide range of subjects.

The improvement of writing skills – new grammar and vocabulary are introduced at each lesson.

The translation of interesting relevant current-day French topics. These translations are complemented with numerous questions including grammatical changes to tenses. The translation of songs is also included.

Emphasis on reading and pronunciation


Karine regularly monitors my performance and the lessons are designed accordingly. Overall my satisfaction is first class.


In addition, I am made aware of other students in a similar stage of learning to myself. This is through a French Trowbridge Group which meets on Whats App.

Overall - Karine provides teaching of the French language at a very high level and I would strongly recommend her for the role as Academic Lead

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