What makes us who we are

- about Prêt à Parler

Prêt à Parler means ”Ready To Talk”. Our mission is to give you the right tools to boost your confidence and get you speaking French from the very first class! Oui, oui!

Isabelle Nicolas, Founder of Prêt à Parler

Can you tell us more about yourself ?

I am a trained opera singer originally from Montreal, Canada. During the completion of my Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in Opera and Languages at McGill University (Montreal, Canada), I became a real language aficionado. I then moved to Germany in the hope of finding work as a professional opera singer. I fulfilled several exciting contracts and improved my German considerably in the process, but also felt there were other ways I could share my love of languages with people.

I have always loved the comprehension of languages, learning new vocabulary and expressions, any culture-related facts, and even grammar, for some reason! I am passionnate about understanding the culture, musicality, poetry, and beauty inherent to the languages in which I perform. Like many Québécoises, I speak French and English fluently. Through opera, I learned German, in the context of Mozart, Strauss, and Wagner as well as Italian with Rossini, Puccini, and Verdi.

In combination with my opera contracts, I started working for several language companies based in Germany, meeting clients on site and teaching online. I rapidly became one of their most sought-after language trainers, responsible for many of their VIP clients (Allianz, Caceis Bank, IBM, Munich RE, Philip Morris, Estée Lauder Group, and Bertelsmann). Working as an independent language trainer gave me the flexibility to teach according to my own style and schedule, allowing me to continue to sing and travel. According to my clients, my approach to teaching languages was significantly more enjoyable and efficient, as they felt I instilled my joy of language comprehension in them.

Why did you create Prêt à Parler?

After spending almost four years in Munich, love brought me to Switzerland. A few months later, I started giving private French coaching sessions to international expats based in Geneva. My clients were using words like greatunique, and fantastic to describe my bilingual approach to teaching. I realised the difference a committed multilingual teacher can have on a student. I personally had had great teachers in the past and my clients were telling me that I was fulfilling that role for them. My human and artistic approach to learning languages were at the core of this experience.

In January 2015, I launched Prêt à Parler.

Our mission is to help English-speaking expats make French part of their business and everyday life. Our clients are busy professionals and parents who must use their time efficiently. 

As the mother of two adorably tiring children, I totally understand the challenges faced by busy working parents when it comes to finding time for language training. Online learning allows them to enjoy their French lessons whenever and wherever it is most convenient for them so they can finally speak French with confidence. This is why we, at Prêt à Parler, offer 60 minute-sessions of focused, undisturbed work which makes a huge difference in their everyday and business life in French.

For more information about why our methodology really works for English-speaking expats, I invite you to read the great articles the founders of Things To Do In GenevaThe Lausanne Guide, and Parentville wrote about Prêt à Parler.

The teacher must be an actor, an artist, passionately in love with his work.

Why is your classical singer background such an advantage?

Not only do our clients learn the language, they also learn to pronounce it well, thanks to the many diction classes I attended during my opera studies, which I later shared with Prêt à Parler’s Super Profs. We have many tips up our sleeves which we are always happy to share with our clients. We even created a YouTube channel dedicated to it!

In addition, we put emphasis on the discovery and appreciation of the francophone culture by providing our clients with interesting and insightful material from recent newspapers, magazines, blogs, YouTube, and much more. Most importantly, they get to have fun in the process, which helps them connecting the dots much faster!

To learn more about how my background as a classical singer led me to found Prêt à Parler, I invite you to read the article Happy Monday wrote about me and to listen to the interview I gave to Swisspats.

What kind of clients do you work best with?

We love to work with knowledge-hungry professionals who have a specific goal in mind and need some help to successfully reach it. If you are looking for very organised language coaches, with a traditional as well as a more intuitive and interactive approach to learning French, Prêt à Parler’s Super Profs are the right teachers for you!

We make sure that we have done some progress at the end of every single lesson we do together. We like to see the effort made while trying to understand a new concept and more importantly, the light in your eyes once you realise that you just connected one piece of information to another. We love to share our knowledge and passion for our mother tongue so that you can share it later on with others.

Most of our clients had learned French before studying with us. They had either learned it in high school, in traditional group settings once they arrived in their new French speaking country or with a private teacher.  Most of them experienced frustration as they had previously worked with teachers who were too focused on grammar rather than the whole picture. They felt that before working with us, they had never been given the tools to be able to speak French in a confident way.

All Prêt à Parler’s Super Profs are very positive, encouraging, and nurturing teachers. We provide a lot of tips and use different methods to better adapt to our clients’ various needs and learning styles. There is nothing more satisfactory for us than to see how much progress our clients make with a bit of positive reinforcement from our part and a lot of motivation from theirs.

If you really want it, we can make giant steps together.

Which qualities should the ideal French learner try to develop?

Motivated, enthusiastic and cooperative

You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. Even the best qualified teachers will have a hard time transferring their French skills if you are unwilling to absorb any of it. Motivation is vital to doing well when learning a language.

Hard-working and disciplined

Learning a language involves some efforts. In order to better your skills, you will have to be persevering and determined. Your active language skills will not improve just by listening to your teacher. The trainer can teach, guide and assist you in your learning process, but can’t do the actual learning and practising for you.

Inquisitive, realistic and patient

Do not be afraid to ask questions if you don’t understand something (a word, expression, idiom, grammar point, etc.). This not only shows your interest but also gives your teacher valuable feedback. Learning a language takes time, but if you practise often outside the classroom, your French skills will pick up quickly. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but one day at a time!

Open-minded, sociable and unafraid to make mistakes

It is a joy to work with people who aren’t afraid to share their opinions and experiences! It is however important to come to the lesson with an open mind to new concepts which might not exist in your mother tongue. It is equally important to put into practice what you learn during a lesson. Controlled practice and free conversation are essential to internalise structure and vocabulary as well as improve pronunciation. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes: this is the best way to learn a new language! Finally, if you enjoy meeting new people and willingly dare to use French during your everyday life, you will definitely make much faster progress.

What does learning with Prêt à Parler feel like?

Learning a second language is a big challenge which most people will have to face in this day and age to stay competitive on the professional market. It is a wonderful, mind-opening experience when done with the right teacher.

Imagine learning a new language with a highly trained, dynamic, bilingual coach who understands the challenge you are facing when learning a new language for the first time. They have been there before and they can speak your language so there are no more ‘‘lost in translation’’ moments.

What do you get? Faster progress, more fun in the process!

No more teacher looking at you as if you were from another planet, unable to understand what you are feeling; but an understanding bilingual coach who anticipates what you are trying to express and gives you the right tools to get you speaking from the very first class.

No more blasé teacher who leaves you alone with a boring, complicated text while browsing through their FB; but a dynamic coach who has building your confidence and improving your communication skills at heart.

No more pre-made programs, but a flexible one-to-one coaching which can be adapted to fit your busy work schedule and your various family commitments.

Our outstanding language coaches are here to help you unlock your potential with solutions adapted to your learning style and priorities.

Interested in our services?

Contact us to schedule your free trial lesson today and see for yourself! Come for the French lessons, stay for the most engaging learning experience of your life! If you’re not ready yet to commit to a learning program, feel free to explore our daily free content on our Instagram & Facebook and if you have any other questions or ideas, add me on LinkedIn and ask away!