Thoughts on Cooking & Culture

Katrina Billard


French Cafe

Would you like to come on a culinary retreat in France with me someday, but you’re worried about not knowing the language and not being able to get around?

I understand. It can be scary or intimidating to go to a country where you don’t speak the language, or where you only know a few words or phrases, but not enough to understand the response someone gives you.

I know how you feel, because I’ve totally been there. I remember arriving on my French college campus and staring like a deer in the headlights at the woman in the exchange student office who was speaking French to me…at what seemed like a mile a minute. I thought I knew some French, but that encounter was a very humbling moment after a long journey across the ocean and the start of a my full junior year of college abroad. It put be in the right frame of mind…to be ready to learn, make mistakes, sound a little stupid, and eventually get better.

Well, I have just the person for you, if you want to brush up on your French from high school, or start learning totally from scratch.

I met Llyane recently, and I already held a demo cooking class for her French conversation group.

Read her golden nugget below and let us know how it works for your French. The rest of this article was written by Llyane.


So, I like to think that I’m always in your corner.

And, even if you read every newsletter and blog post I write, and watch my free resources, some things are worth additional attention.

Here’s something to enjoy this weekend…

Today, a golden nugget from my Bilingual Extensif program.

There’s speaking taking place in conversation but there’s also listening.

A Cinderella skill, often taken for granted.

How can you improve your listening?

The technique is called Ear Gymnastics (or active listening).

Here’s where things get interesting:

The fastest way to improve your listening in French is to speak. 

Let me explain.

Our Brain doesn’t pay much attention to what it hears passively, it’s not enough for us to be able to pick up on each sound in a foreign language.

(Have you ever heard parents asking their children: “Why aren’t you listening to me?“)

But IT (the Brain) pays a lot of attention to what WE are saying, and we often remember every word that we say.

How to use this ‘bias’ to our advantage?

Try to speak out loud every time you read, write, listen or watch something in French.

I understand that it may not work every time, especially when you listen/watch. But try anyway, and say out loud the words that you can actually hear.

Because your brain hears them from you, IT will pay a lot of attention to the sounds and words.

Then, when you hear those words from someone else (podcasts, videos, movies), you’ll be able to decipher them much quicker.

Listening alone doesn’t work.

…it didn’t work for me, when I learned English, and it doesn’t work for most people I know, or it takes a long time.

And that is because it’s passive (remember the parents and children I mentioned above?).

Everyone who went through the Bilingual Extensif program had spectacular results with the Ear Gymnastics technique.

It always starts with us. 

Isn’t it so much simpler?

Just speak along every opportunity you get, and the conversation will take care of itself. 

Always in your corner,


Meet Llyane Stanfield

Llyane is a Parisian French language coach, and founder of the J’Ouellette® French Method – an organic method using performing arts techniques and neuroscience elements. She travels between Toronto, New York and Paris, while teaching French via Skype in more than 15 countries. She is a French language coach for business professionals who struggle with learning French on their own and with conversation anxiety, and she helps them to instead speak Parisian French confidently in their travels and in business. She has produced an unprecedented Extensive Program and French Pronunciation Cure Course, as well as other visual and teaching materials. Now in training for holding the Higher Education Teaching Certificate at Harvard University, she spends a large portion of her time in Paris, where she also organizes a unique annual Immersion Retreat 1:1. Her groundbreaking methods produce a quantum leap in conversational confidence, and a short session with her is the perfect start to brush up your French (whatever your level!) in preparation for your next trip to Paris.

Get her free French Crash Course for easy conversation here!


Photo credit: FrenchCafeChannel

Schedule a Session
Llyane Stanfield 1

Join our community of

sustainable home cooks!

You'll get recipes, food waste tips & exciting updates about new classes & culinary retreats in France!

Sign Me Up!
Book Now