Hugo老师，Hugo法语培训中心创始人 —— Hugo Coffart, Founder of Hugo French School, Guangzhou
DB: 请问是什么促使了您在中国华南地区建立法语培训中心？ What motivated you to set up a French school in South China?
I arrived in Guangzhou in 2005 to do an internship and study Chinese ; I started then to teach during my free time, for fun… and I wasn’t doing things the way other French teachers were working. I graduated from a Business School in France, so I do not have the same habits than teachers who studied literature or language sciences at university ! I was much more putting the emphasize on practice & efficiency, and I was having fun with my students… and they really liked it !
So there was a lot of buzz about « Hugo老师 » online & offline, and more and more students were reaching us.
Besides this, I have always liked doing things « in my way » ; I do not like having someone telling me the way I should teach or what textbook I should use. I wanted to experience things and go further : that’s why I founded our school.
DB: 我们注意到有不少学生是从外省来上您的法语课。请问是什么让Hugo French School比其他法语培训机构更具有吸引力？
We notice that some of your students have come from other provinces to take your class. What are the features that make your school more attractive than other French teaching centers?
I believe the main reason is that we deliver results ! We help students reaching their goals : reaching an advanced B2 or C1 French level, pursuing their studies in France, immigrating to Quebec… we are not professional at marketing, but our students are satisfied with our courses, our services and the results they obtain, and talk to their friends. That’s traditional word of mouth… and I would like to thank all the students who come to our school, who trust us and recommend us. Things that happens everyday at school is mainly thanks to them!
Moreover, we do not run the school as a traditional business, and I think most of our students like this. We want students, teachers and employees to feel « at home » when they are at school, much more like in a coffee shop than in a traditional school. It’s a place where students wants to be and stay. And for us, that is not a sales argument : this is the way we want to work and feel everyday at work too.
DB: 您能向我们分享更多关于你们自主编写的“ Réussir”系列教材吗？ Can you share more information with us about the textbook series “Réussir” designed by your team?
We started developing our own textbook about 5 years ago… and last year, I realized something : I unconsciously designed the book with a similar structure than the textbook I used when I was learning Chinese ! And that is quite important to understand the main power of « Réussir » : it is designed in a way Chinese students are more likely to understand and learn a foreign language, unlike textbooks that are designed in France and that would fit better european students.
What makes these textbooks so special ? First of all, they focus on students needs : the topics we talk about are related to their life (in Guangzhou, in China) and their projects (studying in France, traveling…), and many students takes these textbooks when they go to France as they know they will still need them !
« Réussir » is continuously enhanced : we print a new version of the books every two months and make modification according to students and teachers feedbacks.
We also try to anticipate students needs : we open more than 30 beginners class every year, so we get a lot of experience and exactly know when students will meet what kind of difficulty, and how to solve it. So we put everything in the textbook and whenever a student ask a question, we are able to tell him when the answer is. This gives students confidence during their studies.
One more thing : the textbooks are connected to our online platform. There is a QR Code on every page ; students use WeChat to scan the code and get access to online content that enable them to prepare and review their courses : phonetics, records, exercises, grammar explanations, additional dialogues… there is almost as much content online than offline, and both are different and complimentary !
So learning French at our school is not only about using our textbooks : it’s much more like entering in a well-oiled system that makes learning French fun and easy !
DB: 为什么您会觉得法语文化课堂很重要？请问你们有定期的法语文化兴趣课吗？这个课是否受学生欢迎？ Why do you think it is important to have French culture class? Do you have regular French culture class and are they popular among students?
That’s a good question because frankly speaking, when we launched the school, we didn’t intend to promote culture or organize events ! That wasn’t a priority and I considered culture promotion as a waste of (my) time !
But things has changed, for one reason : we decided to take French out of the classroom ! We are very good at teaching French, there is no doubt about this. But this is not the point. We do not only want our teachers to be « very good », we also want to make sure our students perform well and are able to use French !
So, since last year, we have been organizing much more cultural activities at school ; it’s not about inviting a French singer or watching a movie : we do not want students to passively « listen » or « watch » French culture. We want them to live it. So we invite French professionals (cooks, theater teachers, wine professionals) to organize workshops during which they use French to teach students professional skills ! This is an opportunity for students to use their French in a different context than during a language class, and that’s extra fun for everyone. And yes, this enables them to learn about French culture, life and traditions !
DB: 根据您的经验，学习法语的中国学生最常遇到怎样的问题或者挑战？对此您有什么建议可以给他们？ Based on your experience, what common problems or challenges do Chinese students tend to encounter during their French study? Any suggestions for them?
I would notice two main things :
First of all, I feel that some students (especially high-schoolers and university students) see their French class in the same way than maths or History class : they are here to listen to the teacher that will explain them rules. And they believe this process has to be difficult (because « they are at school »). When they think in that way, they are missing the 2 most interesting things about learning a foreign language : communicating & having fun ! They shouldn’t be too anxious about exams and relax when listening to grammar rules because these are not goals : it’s just part of the process to learn a language ! I advise students to relax and focus on communicating with teachers and their classmates ! I tell them to stop reciting words (some students set goals and want to learn 7 000 words in 4 months : this is useless as long as they do not know how to make a proper sentence) or reading all exception about grammar rules : these things come step by step ! Try to communicate in French first !
The second thing may be students’ lack of learning methods. But this does not only apply to Chinese students, I guess a large part of adults students, wherever in the world, may not have good habits when learning a new language. So this is something we work a lot on : we try to understand students’ habits and problems and show them how they should review their lessons, how they should do their homeworks, how they should prepare class. This is all about methodology for foreign languages ! And it’s very helpful when it’s personalized !
DB: 您能分享关于Hugo法语培训中心未来的一些计划吗？ Would you mind sharing your future plans for Hugo French School with us?
We are currently working on a joint program with the China French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCIFC) to train Chinese students to Business French. We initiated this program that will enable Chinese students who graduate in French major to be ready to work in French companies in China, or to prepare to pursue their business studies in France !
We also have had several propositions to expand our activities in other Chinese cities, but we are not in a rush to make a decision on expansion ! We would rather focus our energy on developing a larger range of services to our students in our beautiful city of Guangzhou!