Tres bon – Jill marks 20 years of classes

Jill Simpson, right, celebrates 20 years of her French classes
Jill Simpson, right, celebrates 20 years of her French classes

Birthday celebrations have taken place in Inverbervie to mark the 20th anniversary of classes taught by a local French teacher.

Jill Simpson teaches the award-winning La Jolie Ronde French programme to primary children in the area and took her first class in 1999.

Jill Simpson celebrates 20 years of teaching her French classes

Jill Simpson celebrates 20 years of teaching her French classes

Pupils from 14 of her weekly classes, which are held in the village’s former Clydesdale Bank building, joined in the celebrations, which included a lively party session with singing and games and birthday cakes.

The birthday occasion brought back fond memories for Jill.

She recalled: “After a few years at home looking after my daughter Rachel, the idea of running my own language school and teaching French to local children, planted itself in my head.

“My passion for languages as well as needing a career that fitted around family life was my motivation.

“I’d graduated in French and Sociology and wanted to use my skill and passion for all things French. Memories of my time spent living in France drove me to definitely look for something that ticked all these boxes.”

By chance Jill was recommended to La Jolie Ronde Languages for Children and started off with just five classes over two afternoons.

She began to build them up slowly and gradually over the years and two decades later French for Children Inverbervie Language School is a successful business teaching between 60-70 local children a week.

Jill now has the support of Andrea Watt, a French tutor.

They are both aware that the landscape for learning languages has been changing.

Jill said: “The recent and much publicised lower take up of languages in secondary schools has made us even more determined to continue to offer an opportunity for young local children to learn languages.

“We feel it’s even more important than ever for children to enjoy a fun and positive approach to language learning, which will in turn give them confidence when they approach languages in secondary school.

“The French for classes in Inverbervie have been designed to take that transition into consideration.”

A parent of three children attending the classes said: “’My children started Jill’s classes from the age of three.

“I’m constantly impressed by their vocabulary and the confidence they have in speaking French.

“Jill is an excellent teacher and makes learning fun.”