I’m on a mission to perfect my French; I consider it ‘unfinished business’ until I do. I spend a lot of time in Paris and began lessons with Berlitz with the goal of communicating better with the locals.
I feel so much more comfortable, knowing the language better. As a photographer, when I am in France and approach someone about taking their photo, I’m able to converse and communicate well in their native language. They respect that and are also more willing to have their picture taken.
Now I can call Paris my adopted city and live there as a ‘temporary resident,’ instead of feeling like a tourist.
I studied French in high school and college, but in a large classroom setting there’s not much time for personalization and you don’t really get enough time to speak.
Berlitz offers one-on-one lessons where lessons are personalized to meet my needs. I also take lessons online with a Berlitz live instructor, which works really well. There is constant dialogue from the minute your lesson begins until it ends. There’s nothing else out there, like it.
When I’m in New York I learn at Rock Center; when I’m in Paris I study at the Paris Learning Center. The method of teaching is consistent, and I get the opportunity to work with more of their incredible instructors.
In between, I watch TV shows and old movies on TV 5 Monde. I’m also a wine maker and actually taught my native, French-speaking wine consultant, who is from Rhone, how to text in English.
Lisa Donneson, photographer and founder of Bouquet Wines, lives in Brooklyn Heights New York.