6 months ago, Camille joined iAdvize as our official in-house English teacher. Her role is to help us improve our level of English so that we can all communicate properly within the company but also with prospects and customers. All those who want and need to improve their language skills, whether English and French now have access to weekly workshops and one-to-one sessions, live translations of the masterclasses, monthly demos and the 60 minutes with the boss.
Camille, how did you end up here?
I moved to Nantes 2 years ago. Before that I used to be a conference interpreter and language trainer in Brussels where I lived for 12 years. I’m originally from France and spent a year in Canada, British Columbia, when I was 15. That’s when I decided I wanted to work with languages.
Had you worked for a company before? What do you like about it?
No, I had never worked for a company before! I had never even had a job interview or signed a contract before I stepped in iAdvize offices. It’s the first time I’ve had this opportunity, to help people with their professional challenges on the long run. I’ve helped a lot of individual employees but never an entire company to face a global language challenge, strategic for the company’s growth. It’s great to have colleagues I can really develop a relationship with and see their progress. I’m also part of team and I get to work with all departments. It’s a great feeling to belong to a group and benefit from its energy.
Can you tell us about the different classes you give within iAdvize?
There are two kinds of workshops, the themed workshops and the business workshops. The first focuses on building up vocabulary and expressions with exercices such as negotiating, picking up the phone, describing market trends, etc. The business workshops are tailored to the specific needs of a specific team. For example, I ran an intensive workshop with the Channel Sales team. We talked about their processes in English so that when someone who doesn’t speak French joins the team, they are able to welcome them properly. I help the R&D team with their speaking skills as once a month they introduce the new product releases to the entire company. The idea is that one day, they can all do this in English! The ‘one-to-one’ classes are for those who are very motivated or who really need to improve their level of English. On top of that, for anyone who wants to, there are regular opportunities to grab a cup of coffee with me, take part in games and contests, have an English lunch!
Can you give an example of a workshop/game you recently organised?
Regularly, I like to organize a ‘Time’s Up’ with different groups. I ask them to write the name of 5 things or people at iAdvize, and then by teams, they have to describe them to the others on their team. Over the summer, we are working on specific team needs, for example, we spend time practising calling each other for the CS people. They have to answer the phone, and more often than not, it might be in English ! My job is to make sure they feel comfortable doing it and stop sweating when they see a +44 pop up on their screen!
When Camille is not teaching, she moves around the company to spend time with each team. She takes the Queen with her, obviously.
But you’re also an interpreter, can you tell us a bit more about that?
Yes! I interpreted in Brussels as a freelancer working for the EU institutions, for large companies, focusing mostly on environmental matters, EWCs. At iAdvize, it’s extremely different but my role is to make sure the people who don’t speak French, who are sometimes based abroad, can understand and don’t feel left out. For example, at the Summer seminar in July 2016, I simultaneously translated Julien’s keynote into English. I translate masterclasses, presentations given here in Nantes, I record the translation in English, then it’s added to the video link so that our colleagues can watch it and understand it whenever they want!
You’ve also become a French teacher, how is that coming along?
Indeed! The idea with these French lessons is to give the non-French speakers the opportunity to acquire the basics. Although iAdvize is now a European company, the headquarters are in Nantes and for the majority, French is their mother tongue. I focus on survival French, how to greet people, how to find your way, where to see the Nantes elephant or what is Curé Nantais.
Are iAdvize employees good students? :)
I am lucky to work in a company that gives their employees enough time to improve their languages. Some of them really seize that opportunity and come to as many workshops as possible. For others, it is not easy to find the time! Overall, I can already see some improvement. I love it when after a workshop, I hear the group that just left speaking in English in the hallways!
What are greatest difficulties for a French person learning English? Any tips to make things easier?
French speakers have been traumatised by long lists of irregular verbs, endless grammar exercices, a tough pronunciation. The challenge for me is to make English fun. To show people that it’s not about making me happy, but about them opening up to a whole new world of culture, communication, people, and trips!
I try to use plenty of visual content, I’m a big fan of pictures, videos and gifs to illustrate my points. It helps memorizing. I’m also working on content based on our company. I want to put iAdvize at the heart of my language teaching method. But most importantly, I want to make them feel comfortable about the way they speak.
What’s your favourite idiomatic expression in English and why? How do you translate it in French?
I love “When hell freezes over” – Quand les poules auront des dents. I don’t use it everyday though!