Beth C., Santa Clara, CA (8/7/18)
Sophie was my daughter’s high school French tutor for French 3. Sophie took her from a frustrated student who had fallen behind to a motivated A-student. We are now done with French 3 and couldn’t be happier with the results.
Our daughter needed more help with French than she was getting from her school. We interviewed 3 possible tutors from 3 different sources. One of them was Sophie from Bay Area French Tutor.
Sophie stood out because she was confident, results-oriented and gave us a realistic estimate on what it would take to reach our goals. She clearly knew her stuff and was not a pushover. But she was also friendly and flexible in her approach. Still, we had moderate expectations given that we were starting from behind.
But we were delighted to find that Sophie and our daughter connected very well. Sophie was non-judgmental and patient when our daughter did not know something which meant she could ask questions freely and with confidence. Sophie also helped bring French to life by explaining things from her personal experience of living in France. I think that really helped take it from a just a mandatory course to an interesting opportunity to learn about another culture.
Sophie was always professional and always punctual. She kept our daughter motivated and on track. We didn’t consider this at the beginning but Sophie is also a family therapist and I think that gives her an advantage. This gives her the ability to adapt her approach based on the learning style and personality of the student she is tutoring and that helps contribute to a successful outcome. Of course our daughter had a huge role in all this as well. Once she had the help of Sophie, she was extremely responsible in preparing for her tutoring sessions and doing the pre-work.
Thank you Sophie for giving us a great result and also turning French into a positive and enjoyable subject!
Nanimoe H., Portland, OR (7/22/18)
My spouse and I took lessons from Christelle for 6 months in our home because scheduling was tight and inconsistent. We were also getting ready to move and our attention span was greatly impaired. Christelle was patient, funny and thorough. She brought focus when we had none. She put up with our variety in meeting times. She gave us a tremendous trajectory in learning. Her attention to detail and grammar, in our lessons, was absolutely top notch. The only complaint was on us. We wish we’d had more time, done more and most of all, taken her with us when we moved.
Christine H., Oakland, CA (7/11/18)
I have been working with Christelle for about 6 months now and take lessons with her once per week. I had no previous exposure to French before meeting her.
During our sessions, we review what she taught me last session or she teaches something new and we practice it through listening, speaking, or writing. She corrects my pronunciation, which I really appreciate, because it allows me to form good habits that don’t need to be fixed later on. In between sessions, she assigns homework which helps me make progress on my own. She’s super patient when I don’t know something and explains things very clearly. She’s intuitive and knows how to focus the session on what I’m struggling with the most. I feel safe to make mistakes or not know something but also challenged to learn and improve. I tend to be impatient with my own process and she’s been assuring, which helps me a lot too.
Having a strong grasp on the language still feels like a far away goal, but I certainly have learned A LOT in a short period of time. After my first 2 sessions, I was able to conjugate verbs and form basic sentences. Before our lessons, listening to French radio sounded like a blur of words that ran together and I understood almost none of it. My listening skills have improved tremendously and can get a general understanding of the news when I listen to French radio. Speaking and reading aloud feels a lot more comfortable too. When I tell French speakers I have studied the language for 6 months, they are super impressed, even if I’m nowhere near fluent.
Christelle has both the technical skills of a strong teacher as well as the intangible/soft skills of understanding students’ needs and making adjustments based on them. I’m very thankful to be working with her and higher recommend her.
Christine H., Berkeley, CA (6/1/18; updated review)
I just wanted to write an update on my review from over a year ago. I’ve now been Christelle Durandy’s student for 1.5 years, and we meet 3x a week for 1 hour each. I still have nothing but positive words for her teaching.
I have two relevant experiences to share:
1. After about a year of taking classes with her, I decided I wanted to enroll in classes at the Alliance Française at Berkeley so I could gain more exposure to the language and feel more comfortable speaking French in a group setting. With 1 year of her lessons, I was able to jump into classes at level B1/B2 and excel. I noticed that among my peers at the Alliance who started their training there or elsewhere, I had finer control over my grammar and syntax because Christelle and I had drilled grammar in conversation so much. I was making less basic mistakes than the other students because of the sheer amount of 1-on-1 time I had with my tutor and her excellent insight to spend time focusing and working on these points.
2. I still have that francophone boyfriend, except now he’s my fiancé! Last month, my French future mother-in-law told me that her brother and his wife were visiting SF and that they wanted to meet me since they wouldn’t be able to make my wedding the following year. I ended up spending over three hours with my French relatives-to-be, and we were able to hold a real conversation, discussing things like our plans for the future, the history of Chinatown, what dimsum is and how it’s consumed, etc. That’s been my greatest joy and success so far with these lessons — the ability to talk to real French people in their native language with ease.
I have one other experience with language tutoring, and that was when I tried to learn Chinese in a similar manner (with a private tutor, but only 1x per week). When I compare my experience with Christelle to that of my short-lived Chinese lessons, there is definitely a huge difference in quality. Whereas my previous tutor would just show up and put me through her standard program for students, Christelle is constantly crafting and adapting a pedagogical program for you that she thinks will best suit your needs in French. She puts so much of herself into her work, and she is clearly very passionate about it.
Of course, while it took me a lot of work to get to where I am now, I think it’s easy to work hard without getting as far as quickly — e.g., if you were to rely on DuoLingo or other free resources or group French classes. Therein lies the value, in my opinion, of tutoring sessions like those offered by Bay Area French Tutor. With someone as capable as Christelle and with the direct attention you get from having a 1-on-1 tutor, you can go much farther than you otherwise would have on your own. Highly recommend. I especially recommend Christelle. Any student that gets on her schedule should consider themselves extremely lucky; she is a true gem.
Archie I., Palm Springs, CA (3/28/18)
I have been receiving lessons from Christelle for nearly a year. She is a very competent, encouraging, and patient teacher. She understands her student’s skill levels and tailors the curriculum accordingly.
I highly recommend her.
Eimile B., Mill Valley, CA (3/2/2018)
Veronica has been tutoring my kids (9 and 13) for a few months now and she is fabulous. She customizes the lessons to their ages and temperaments. She is teaching them very practical vocabulary and concepts and my daughter (who has had previous French classes) says she is much better than her other two teachers. She really enjoys learning with Veronica. Neither of my kids ever complains about French class. We are very happy to have found her. There is nothing like a native speaker who is fun and personable to make a person enjoy learning a new language. Veronica has that ability in spades.
Susan B., Mill Valley, CA (2/25/2018)
My daughter (age 16) used Verónica to practice her conversation skills. I would use her again. She was very nice, and an excellent speaker. We only used her for a couple of sessions, but my daughter felt her help was invaluable. The only reason we stopped was due to scheduling issues on our part.
Hubert B., Sausalito, CA (2/23/2018)
Veronique is amazing. I grew up speaking french in Austria during the occupation, but it had gotten quite rusty. Veronique took off from the place I left off, by making relevant and thoughtful advances in my french learning, using real time periodicals, and working on pronunciation and tenses. I highly recommend her!
GC.C., Oakland, CA (2/23/2018)
Christelle has been working with my son since the beginning of the school year. While my son had significant exposure to the French language as a child, he needed to strengthen his grammar and vocabulary very quickly as he launched into a French II high school course last Fall. Not only has he been able to keep up, but he is thriving in the class. Most importantly, he really enjoys speaking French now! Christelle is attentive to the needs of her students and teaches with a warm, positive style that sparks a desire to learn and speak French.
Patrick R., Oakland, CA (12/18/2017)
I have been working with Christelle for about 4 months now and she has really been wonderful. My wife is French and I have been going to France with her for over 20 years. In that time I have learned a lot of vocabulary but have never really been able to converse in French. Being retired now I decided it was time to really see if I could develop my speaking skills. Also at my age it is really important to keep learning new things in order to keep the brain working.
Christelle is really a master teacher. She quickly figured where my strengths and weaknesses lie and has been helping me work on those weaknesses while still supporting my strengths. She wants to know what my interests are so that she can tailor our tutoring sessions to my interests. In this way she makes our time together fun. She challenges me when I need it and also praises my little accomplishments to keep me motivated when it gets difficult. It is a credit to her teaching ability that after this relatively short period of time we conduct almost our entire class in French.
On a more personal note, Christelle really seems to be interested in who I am as a person and there is a certain kindness and openness about her that I really appreciate.
If you want to learn French, I would highly recommend Christelle.
Meryl B. (12/17/2017)
Christelle has been working with my son on French conversation for about 6 months now. He really likes her. She has a warm, engaging personality and is great with kids. My son is a strong French speaker and really just needs opportunities to practice, but Christelle would also be great with kids who are at earlier stages of the learning process. She is also very accommodating about our schedule, and very responsive to emails. Highly recommended.
Kevin O. (12/13/2017)
Christelle is fabulous. Patient, engaging and did i mention patient. A true pleasure learning from her.
Ahrash B., Berkeley, CA (6/23/2017)
Our now-13-year-old son is headed to France this summer with one of his best friends, who is a native French speaker. We decided we’d better try to give our son as much French exposure as we can within the limits of his already-busy after-school schedule. He had studied some Spanish previously but no French.
We looked around at other possibilities, including group lessons in the Berkeley area, but we were discouraged from enrolling him in classes with mostly adults, and it was hard to find a class schedule that we could manage. We then stumbled across Bay Area French Tutor, and not only were the prices fairly comparable to what we would be paying for group lessons, but we would be able to have the instructor come to our house!
Our instructor was Christelle Durandy, and she was fantastic. She really engaged with our son and it was clear that she enjoys working with young teens. Our son looked forward to his lessons each week and has gotten much more comfortable negotiating the language and building a basic vocabulary. We only had several months of time available for these lessons, so we were not expecting too much, but we think he will be much more confident and capable of engaging with people when he leaves for France in a few weeks.
Christelle was flexible and gracious and an excellent representative for Bay Area French Tutor and a more global outlook generally. Thank you to Christelle for the time and enthusiasm, and if you have an interest in learning French, I highly recommend Bay Area French Tutor!
Paul F., Berkeley, CA (5/7/2017)
Pascale had to go back to France so suggested another member of her team, Christelle. What a pleasure it has been to meet weekly with her! I am 70 with an intermediate academic training in French almost fifty years ago. It has helped me read and write and to speak some but useless for oral comprehension. Christelle quickly recognized my reticence to converse and in just eight to ten weeks has given me much more confidence. I even went to France for a week and noticed myself much more engaged. Her warmth, sensitivity to my needs and her delight in exploring a variety of conversational topics made me study and prepare for each of our visits. For example, one day we met at a coffee shop in Berkeley near a gourmet grocery store. Because she knew I liked to cook, she had us go first to the produce section. Here she introduced me to the French words for many of the fruits and veges. She then asked me to say in French how I would prepare some of these items. We then went to the dairy section and then meats. I can’t wait to go to a Parisian open market now to practice my new vocabulary. It wasn’t all conversation. She noticed that I had trouble between C:est and Il est and made me practice. She also assigned youtube in French to help me with oral comprehension. I highly recommend Bay Area French Tutor for providing me with the excellent services of Christelle Durandy.
Michelle S., Berkeley, CA (3/8/2017)
Christelle was my tutor for four sessions. I wanted to work with a tutor to boost my confidence in my French skills (beginning intermediate) before a trip to France. She tailored my time with her to match (and stretch) my skills. She is an absolutely delightful person, and she met my needs perfectly. I feel more confident in speaking and I was able to understand and respond to her questions (designed for me to practice my skills). I highly recommend her as a tutor!
Denise JK, Oakland, CA (3/5/2017)
I have been working with Pascale for at least two years. Her dedication and masterful teaching ability has enabled me to become a more confident French speaker. She is wonderful teacher, who enables me to learn French in a caring and nonjudgemental way. She offers support and guidance in a thoughtful manner. I recommend her 100% if you want to learn to be a speaker of French!
Neill D. Orinda, CA (1/27/17)
Pascale has been a tutor to my son and my wife for over 3 years. It is really thanks to her that my son has kept his french up throughout the years. She is proactive and creative in getting him to speak in french. She covers the grammar and even gets him to write stories. My wife practices her spoken french each week and this helps her to return to Belgium twice a year for a conference completely in french. I would highly recommend her to anyone looking for french lessons.
Olga F., New York, NY (1/27/2017)
I’d like to commend Christelle on her diligence and passion. I’ve been taking private French lessons with Christelle for more than 5 years and I can truly see a tremendous improvement in my speaking skills. She tailors every lesson to areas where my language skills are weaker and creates precise exercises to strengthen those skills. At my current language level when most the grammar was already introduced, she finds ways to reintroduce specific grammar scenarios into our conversation so that they are not forgotten.
Erica M., Oakland, CA (12/15/2016)
Pascale is an excellent teacher. In the time she’s been working with me, I’ve gone from two or three words of poorly articulated French (and zero ability), to being able read, write, speak and comprehend at a level I previously thought impossible. She is organized, experienced, intelligent, encouraging, detail-oriented and highly efficient. She makes French fun (and non-threatening for us with no prior experience). Highly recommended!
Ivett M., Berkeley, CA (12/6/2016)
Pascale was my French teacher during this spring and I loved her very much.
She organized this amazing dinner/French conversation party, and she organized conversation meet-ups too, which were great for a beginner like me, because she always corrected our mistakes but kept the conversation flowing.
As my private tutor she was always super prepared, and at the same time also very flexible about what I wanted. She gave me lots of helpful links and ideas that made learning French more fun.
She is a super nice person! We still keep in touch although I had to move away. I can only say good things about her, I absolutely loved her and I highly recommend her as a tutor!
Claudia CG (11-21-2016)
I found Pascale when my daughter needed tutoring in French in high school. My daughter stopped taking French and I took over those sessions. That was two and a half years ago and I’ve met with Pascal once a week since then. She’s an excellent tutor. She is super smart, punctual and always prepared. She forgives me when I don’t do my work and encourages me when I need it. She varies the work so I am never bored. If it were any other tutor, I might have given up long ago but I love my weekly hour in French with Pascale.
Eve W., San Francisco, CA (11/18/2016)
I decided to get a french tutor last year because I had a trip planned to France and wanted to be as conversational as possible. I really wanted to find someone who was able to come to my house which was a bit hard to find, and then I found Veronique Besfamille!! I feel really lucky to have found her, not only was she able to come to my house, but she put me at ease immediately and made learning french fun! We play games, review french movies and french magazine articles as well as learn traditional verbs and grammar. After my trip to France last June, I decided to stay on with Veronique and learn more beyond just being tourist conversational. I’ve always wanted to become fluent in French, and this is my chance!! Veronique is kind, fun, flexible and very nurturing, I never feel uncomfortable. If it weren’t for her, I would have stopped taking lessons after my trip!!
Daniela K., Brooklyn, NY (11/7/2016)
Christelle has been my French tutor for five years and I don’t know what I would do without her! My husband is from France, and we both live in the US, but I desperately needed to learn French in order to communicate with his family as they don’t speak any English. I take class weekly with Christelle and it’s always a pleasure, never a chore. She is extremely patient and reinforces everything from grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, idioms, etc. She always keeps the class interactive and spices it up with new exercises. Christelle is not only formally trained as a teacher, but she also clearly has a passion for teaching French which comes through in her lessons. She takes note on basics that I’m forgetting and incorporates the simple stuff along with advanced level complexities, so I don’t keep making novice mistakes. I would highly recommend learning French with Christelle!
Christine H., Berkeley, CA (10/25/2016)
I decided to take French lessons in September since I’ve found myself in a relationship with a francophone. It’s been a little over a month since I started and I went from knowing no French at all to texting my francophone boyfriend mostly in French!
I have been working with one of the tutors on Pascale’s team, Christelle Durandy, and I highly, highly recommend her. As a person, she is patient, funny, and warm. As a teacher, she is extremely knowledgeable about both the French language and the language learning experience, as she herself is fluent in three–English, Spanish, and French, with French being her native language. She stays up-to-date with the Académie française and is knowledgeable about the culture and history underlying the French language. Basically, this isn’t just some random French native deciding to offer lessons in their free time. She’s the real deal.
During class, she provides useful tips and methods for building the skills required to listen, speak, and participate quickly in conversation. Her passion for teaching and her love of the French language makes each class fun…I always wish there were more time at the end of the hour because I could listen to her explain French forever!
I’m definitely nowhere near being able to converse in French yet because I’m only two months in, but I’ve managed to impress my sweetie with what I’ve learned in a few weeks. He thinks I’ve learned so much so quickly, especially now that we can text primarily in French now! Mon français améliore très vite! I’m still too shy to speak much to him, but I’ve been as happy as a clam unleashing my terrible American accent on Christelle in class. I feel comfortable around her—but my goodness, that lady’s got a lot of patience for bad French!!! Hehehe 😛
I have been really pleased with how effective these lessons have been for me! Merci beaucoup, Christelle!
Mary H., Berkeley, CA (8/13/2016)
I have been studying with Pascale since 2013. My focus is French Conversation, and I have been complimented by my native French speaking friends on how much I have improved. To me, I have improved grace à Pascale. She has hauled me through 3 traumatic years of having to get up and speak French in front of native French speakers every month. She is supportive, kind, knows her grammar up and down, and finally, she goes the extra mile for her students. After every class, she takes the time to email me a list of the vocabulary from our lesson. That is just one example of her dedication to her students. We laugh a lot together, too.
Tim S., Novato (8/10/2016)
Pascale and her team are patient, understanding, and adaptive to your learning style and needs. They focus on what motivates you, mixes what you do know with new material, and moves you systematically on a faster path to your goals than language books, other tutors, courses, or online tools do. (I’ve tried them all, trust me.)
They go beyond the textbooks regularly, and work for you beyond your tutoring session by providing extra materials, answering questions, researching, and sending you follow up materials that they feel will help you between your sessions.
She also hosts activities and groups that reinforce your French skills and provides that pay-off of being to actually communicate instead of just learning words and grammar. They make it fun while keeping you challenged.
Personally, Pascale is one of the most patient people I have ever met in my life. You will have no fear with Pascale or Verónica, very sweet people who actually care about you and your desire to learn the French language.
Susan Z., Piedmont, CA (8/9/2016)
Pascale is one of the best tutor we ever had. She is very responsible and know how to teach. I have full confidence when hire her to help my high school student. She is not only a nice and warm person but she is knowledgeable and reliable. My student improved a lot in French because of Pascale.
Clare T., San Rafael, CA (8/8/2016)
Pascale is a VERY RARE gem.
Having grown up in the UK where learning French is taken seriously, I was surprised by how hard it is here, in the supposedly Europhile Bay Area, to find a genuinely competent, straightforward, systematic and qualified teacher for my daughter.
At last, after several years of trying, we found Pascale. My daughter (age 8) has been working with her for a year and is already competent and able to write and speak well, with an almost flawless accent and enough confidence to hold her own in basic exchanges when we visit France. Pascale’s commitment is to TEACH. Not babysit, bribe or entertain. And my daughter LOVES her. She is respectful, joyful, and encouraging based on actual learning and progress rather than empty praise. A true Teacher.
Myra P., Berkeley, CA (8/8/2016)
My 13 an 1/2 year old daughter started taking French lessons this summer between her 7th and 8th Grades (in order to be able to jump into French 2 at her Middle School) with Christelle and absolutely loved it. Christelle is a joyful, warm, precise, patient, and encouraging teacher. I can’t recommend her more highly and I’m bilingual and have studied many languages myself over the years. Christelle is an exceptional teacher and made French language-learning easy and fun for my daughter. Plus my daughter learned to speak with an exquisite French accent. Splendide!!!
Kress J., Mill Valley, CA (8/8/2016)
I started working with Pascale about 7 months ago when I decided to refresh my French conversation. I was in advanced french classes in High School and College, but as you know – American schools don’t have you speaking much French, just understanding and writing the language. Pascale has helped me tremendously to work through my fear of speaking. We meet at a coffee shop and we mostly talk like girlfriends do, catching up on the week, telling stories from my past, etc. She also gives me homework which includes reading stories, grammar exercises, and writing. If I don’t have a chance to do the homework we just talk and sometimes read out loud.
Pascale is just the right amount of forceful yet forgiving – couldn’t recommend her more:)
Nique F., San Francisco (2/11/2016)
I started ambitiously learning French 4 years ago, when I met this charming Frenchman who later became my husband (the French lessons definitely helped me seal the deal 🙂
I started with beginner classes at the Alliance Francaise SF, then The French Class, then an intensive class in Paris. But NOTHING prepared me better for real-life French speaking than my private tutoring sessions with Pascale. I became so confident, quick on my toes, and was speaking fluidly in French on a variety of topics that Pascale and I would cover.
Private lessons with Pascale are great because you get 100% of her attention (vs a class, where you are only speaking for part of the time, when it’s your turn). She is a mobile tutor, so will meet you wherever is convenient. We met 1x per week for about 3 months, in preparation for my engagement party in France (where, I was able to give a speech in French, and mingle with all the French friends & family).
Our sessions were focused on conversation, and learning vocabulary and grammar that was most useful to me & the way I speak. No point in learning stock phrases you’ll never use! With Pascale, she took notes at each of our sessions, jotting down all the words I was learning, and sent me the vocabulary list after each session, so I could study further.
If you want to be conversational in REAL French, you need to invest in private lessons, which will force you to speak constantly, and have someone to correct your mistakes. Pascale is a real pro, and will whip you into shape! Her prices are VERY reasonable, too (I compared to many other tutors).
Bonne chance, mes amis!