11 Questions For Camille Chevalier-Karfis : Language Learning Gets Personal #4


language-learning-gets-personal_0A student of mine had missed his class. I wanted to say: “would you like to make up for the lesson”. Instead I said: “would you like to make out for the lesson”. He answered with a smile: “Camille, you should charge much more”… I understood my mistake and we both burst out in laughing.

Time for another edition of Language Learning Gets Personal!

camille-chevalier-karfisThis time we want to find out more about the impact learning another language has had on the life of Camille Chevalier-Karfis!

Camille is a respected French teacher, she has been teaching French for 20 years, and runs the website French Today, where she offers several French audiobooks and audio lessons that help you learn French. She also teaches French via Skype.

Camille and her husband Oliver developed these products and services to fill the gap left by then current learning materials that were mainly teaching a formal and more traditional French. French Today aims to teach you a modern 21st century version.

If you want to learn French, make sure you pay Camille a visit at:


Okay, time for the interview. Let’s go!

1. What languages do you speak?

French – English (bilingual), Spanish (used to be fluent… 20 years ago).

2. Why did you choose to learn those language(s)?

I was born and raised in France, then studied English and Spanish in school. My other choice was German, and I didn’t care for it.

3. What sacrifices have you made to learn them?

“Sacrifice” sounds like a very big word to me. No sacrifice. But learning languages has shaped all my life (see the next answer…)

4. What’s the biggest positive consequence that learning a foreign language(s) has had on your life?

I moved to the US because I wanted to better my English, and later became a Citizen. After living there 18 years, I moved back to France with my (also French) husband and our bilingual daughter. My love for Languages has guided my life, and made me who I am today.

5. Would you say that you have a passion for learning languages?

In my case, I would say I have a passion for teaching languages, since I teach French 🙂

6. What’s the most beautiful language in the world and why?

I should answer French of course. But I like the sound of Brazilian Portuguese myself.

7. What language would you absolutely not want to learn and why not?

Dutch. I really don’t like how it sounds.

8. What’s the most amazing intercultural experience you’ve had because of speaking another language?

There were so many, it’s hard to decide… But I’d say discussing God with a merchant in a souk (market) in Marrakech while drinking mint tea (mostly in French), helping a woman and her mother choose her wedding dress in the States (in Spanish), and talking about women’s rights (in particular voting rights) with a group of young women from all over the world – including a woman from North Korea (in English).

But the closest to my heart is hearing my daughter introduce me to her friends in preschool in the US, when she was 3, and say “and this is my mother Camille” with a super strong American accent. I didn’t know she knew how to say my name in English. This was an out of this world experience.

9. What’s the most embarrassing mistake in another language you’ve ever made?

A student of mine had missed his class. I wanted to say: “would you like to make up for the lesson”. Instead I said: “would you like to make out for the lesson”. He answered with a smile: “Camille, you should charge much more”… I understood my mistake and we both burst out in laughing.

10. Do you dream in a foreign language?

In English all the time – I even speak in my dreams in English. In Spanish I did when I lived in Spain, but rarely since

11. Do you have plans to learn more languages? I.e., what are your language goals for the coming years?

I would love to learn Chinese and Arabic. Both quite complicated for me. Being extremely busy right now, I don’t think I could find the time, but it’s definitely something I’ll pursue when I am a bit older.

Some Great Stories

Thanks for sharing them with us, Camille!

Be sure to visit French Today if you’re interested in learning French. You can also visit French Today on Facebook and Twitter where you can find French mini lessons and daily tips.

So that concludes Language Learning Gets Personal number 4. If you sign up for the Smart Language Learner email updates, I’ll let you know as soon as the next one is published.

Also, don’t forget to check out the second Smart Language Learner case study on the audio course Learn German Easily. It’s starting today!

All the best, cheers!


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  1. I love the “making out” story 🙂 Embarrassing mistakes are a part of learning a foreign language. I teach Brazilian Portuguese, and often tell my college students and private clients to embrace these stories and be proud of them. YouTube subscriber once asked me to do a video on similar Portuguese words that meant very different things. He had just asked his girlfriend if she was done cleaning her behind. He meant her kitchen 🙂

    Camille, I was happy to hear you like the sound of Brazilian Portuguese!

    1. Great story, Luciana! Thanks for sharing!

      I agree, Camille’s anecdote was definitely one of the best we’ve had so far in Language Learning Gets Personal.

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