Stittsville’s retiree French classes flourish with a bon vivant group

(Group members of the conversational French language lessons met on GoogleMeet for their Wednesday sessions during Covid. Photo: Mairi Egan)

In 2013, the Stittsville Library introduced conversational French language lessons for retirees. With Anne-Marie Dallaire-Sarazin accepting the volunteer position of Co-Ordinator, classes began every Wednesday. Those who signed up became fast friends with the majority of original members continuing their lessons still. Sadly, in 2016, Anne-Marie passed away. What was this group to do?

The recruiting began again for the library to find someone who would be interested to become the new Co-Ordinator. Claudine Mcleod stepped in to become the perfect fit for the group. Since 2016, Claudine has been guiding the lessons. I can assure you that Claudine is special person who has brought together the many personalities and nationalities that exist in the group where all become close friends. I was one of those prior to working part-time, unfortunately for me on a Wednesday, but our friendships continue.

The française group is one full of positivity with everyone helping each other to write and tell their weekly stories. Never a class goes by without laughter, some good baking and kindness. Birthdays are specially celebrated with grand desserts.

When Covid took its place in our lives, the group could no longer meet in person at the library. The group got creative. A member had a backyard pool – summertime saw the classes taking place on lawn chairs socially distanced relaxing while learning around the pool. A manicured garden also played the part of backdrop for the lessons. When the colder weather arrived what could the group do? Why GoogleMeet of course! Nothing stopped these retirees who were eager to learn and speak French.

If you are a retiree, or just want to participate in the conversational French program at the Stittsville Library, speak to the staff at the library’s Reception desk. They will add your name to the contact list and Claudine will get in touch with you. The free lessons are open to all adults.

Below are just some of the sentiments expressed to Stittsville Central, in both English and French, from Claudine and group members of their wonderful learning experience over the years.

Claudine Mcleod, Co-ordinator I am Claudine McLeod living in Canada for 42 years. As my retirement approached, I was looking to do volunteer work. What a godsend, when in 2016 the Stittsville Library asked me to lead the French Conversation Group. With enthusiasm, I immediately accepted and since then the members of the group have not only improved steadily, but also we have formed a beautiful friendship. I am delighted to contribute to the improvement of French for English-speaking people. I hope this will continue for a long time.

Je suis Claudine Mcleod vivant au Canada depuis 42 ans. À l’approche de ma retraite, je cherchais à faire du bénévolat. Quelle aubaine, quand en 2016, la bibliothèque de Stittsville m’a demandé de mener le groupe de conversation française. Avec enthousiasme, j’ai tout de suite accepté et depuis, non seulement, les membres du groupe s’améliorent régulièrement mais également nous avons formé formé une belle amitié. Je suis ravie de contribuer au perfectionnement du français des personnes anglophones. J’espère que cela continuera pour longtemps.

Maïté Le Bolloch About half a dozen of us, mainly women, all retired from different careers but still very active, all Canadian citizens but most born outside Canada. We met in Stittsville, became friends and our pot-pourri group gradually developed. The Stittsville Library made our early weekly Wednesday meetings very easy; then COVID 19 made us move from garden to swimming pool. Recently, we have adopted GoogleMeet. We now see one another on video, with great pleasure. We come from Canada, England, Scotland, Germany and France and we converse – in French. For the love of the language. Our interests are varied and we each prepare a topic for each meeting: current events, literature, arts, shows, movies, politics, traditions, etc. Whenever possible, we also celebrate our birthdays with home-made pastries for which we share recipes. Our two French friends help us to perfect our conversation skills and to think faster in French, both leisurely and with no spirit of competition.

Nous sommes une demi-douzaine, femmes en majorité, tous retraités de différents  métiers mais encore très actifs, tous citoyens canadiens mais nés ailleurs qu’au Canada. Nous nous y sommes rencontrés, avons sympathisé – et le pot-pourri s’ est formé au gré de nos réunions. La bibliothèque de Stittsville a d’abord facilité nos réunions hebdomadaires du mercredi puis, COVID aidant, nous nous sommes déplacés d’un jardin à une piscine et enfin avons adopté Google Meet. Nous nous voyons donc maintenant en vidéo, avec beaucoup de plaisir. Nous venons du Canada, d’Angleterre, d’Ecosse, d’Allemagne et de France et nous conversons – en français, par amour de la langue. Nous abordons tous les sujets et préparons chaque semaine un sujet de conversation: faits divers d’actualité, littérature, arts,spectacles, traditions, politique, etc. Nous avons aussi célébré  nos anniversaires avec des pâtisseries-maison dont nous échangeons les recettes. Nos deux amies françaises nous aident à perfectionner notre conversation  et à penser plus rapidement en français, le tout dans une ambiance de non compétition.

Susan Thorne I joined the French Conversational Group at the Stittsville Library because I have bilingual grandchildren and I wanted to improve my French language skills. Our French language coordinators keep the conversations flowing so that we are able to enjoy interesting, informative and fun meetings.

Je me suis jointe au groupe de conversation en français à la bibliothèque de Stittsville parce que j’ai des petits-enfants bilingues et je voulais améliorer mes compétences linguistiques en français.  Nos coordinatrices françaises assurent la fluidité de nos coversations afin que nous puissions profiter de réunions intéressantes, informatives et amusantes.

Karin Dean We are very fortunate to have the Stittsville Library in our community. There are not only books but we also have courses to follow. One came across my path, the French program about three years ago. What a wonderful way to improve my French plus meeting a fine group of ladies. They recommend the excellent programs on the French channel TV5, history, photography, art, travel. I would like to thank Claudine and Maïté and the ladies for being so welcoming.

Nous sommes très chanceux d’avoir la bibliothèque de Stittsville dans notre communauté. Il n’y a pas que des livres mais nous avons aussi des cours à suivre. L’un d’entre eux est tombé sur mon chemin, le programme de français il y a environ trois ans. Quelle merveilleuse façon d’améliorer mon français et de rencontrer un bon groupe de femmes. Ils recommandent les excellents programmes de la chaîne française TV5, histoire, photographie, art, voyage. Je tiens à remercier Claudine et Maïté et les dames pour leur accueil.

Edna MarlowTogether the Groupe Française are having a wonderful experience of friendship and also learning the French language. As a young immigrant in school, French was difficult for me. Learned lots of verbs but never managed to speak the language. Took courses to no avail. Then one day in 2013 Stittsville Library offered a French Program. Anne-Marie Dallaire-Sarazin (1943-2016) became the co-ordinator and gave us much time and patience. Sadly she passed away in 2016 and we were distraught. Very soon thereafter we were blessed with Claudine Mcleod who took the reins. We meet in the garden, on the porch, around a pool. Now we congregate on Google Meet. Nothing stops these ladies! Thank you to these interesting ladies and Claudine for your help, good humour and tall tales.

Ensemble, le groupe français vit non seulement une expérience merveilleuse d’amitié mais perfectionne aussi la langue française. En tant que jeune immigrante à l’école, le français était difficile pour moi. J’y avais appris beaucoup de verbes mais je n’avais jamais réussi à parler la langue. J’ai suivi des cours mais sans réel succès non plus. Puis, une journée en 2013, la bibliothèque de Stittsville a offert un programme de conversation française. Anne-Marie Dallaire-Sarazin (1943-2016) est devenue la coordonnatrice et nous a donné beaucoup de temps et s’est montrée bien patiente. Malheureusement, elle est décédée en 2016 et nous avons été bouleversés. Très peu de temps après, nous avons été bénis avec Claudine Mcleod qui a repris les rênes. En été,  nous nous rencontrons dans le jardin, sur le patio, autour d’une piscine. Maintenant, nous nous réunissons sur Google Meet. Rien n’arrête ces dames! Merci à ces femmes intéressantes et à Claudine pour leur aide, leur bonne humeur et leurs histoires.


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5 thoughts on “Stittsville’s retiree French classes flourish with a bon vivant group”

  1. Superbe!! Félicitations!!

    J’ai beaucoup aimé cet article

    Bonne chance à vous et à vos consoeurs

    Marc B – Montréal

  2. I will look forward to joing the group when I retire. I am extremely shy to speak French, i have have had a lot of exposure in my lifetime and understand a lot of written and sometimes oral french but I have never been able to speak.

  3. For the love of language and friends, they thought of an article a little different from Hockey, Taxes and Covid. Thank you Stittsville Central.

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