Meet Chris, your teacher!

Hi, I’m Chris – we already met on the Home page. I’m the creator of this website as well as of OuiCommunicate LLC and all the learning contents in this French course.
I once read that big companies are going out of their way to appear “human” and that small ones are desperately trying to look corporate! Well, as a small company, this is the page on which I will reveal to you my human side and how I came to teach French. 
We will go through my cultural origins, my linguistic background, and the reason I built OuiCommunicate. You can also learn more about me in the blog section of this website.

Step 1: It all started in England!

The little boy in this photo is my good self along with my English grandfather. He was a farmer in a tiny village in Nottinghamshire from a family line going back to the 1700s. His name was Tom Marsh.
Summer holls were truly something special in England in that time and we used to cross the Channel from mainland Europe to go over every time we could. This is when England stole my heart!
In this photo, I didn’t yet speak French: it was all English at home until my brother and I were old enough to go to school at 5 years old. Only then did we become bilingual.

Step 2: A family of expats !

These two kids are my brother and I at the Belgian coast. It seems funny to imagine that we only spoke English to each other despite being surrounded by French and Dutch.
My mum was determined that we would know English as natives. During this time, we were exposed to all the traditional English songs like Little Jack Horner, Humpty Dumpty, but also the 1980s English cooking like steamed leaks, boiled potatoes and lamb with mint sauce!
This part of our family history is central to my becoming a linguist and language teacher. Without knowing it, I became deeply attached to the English language and started to experience bi-culturalism.

Step 3: The school years

This photo symbolizes our emerging bilingualism. On the one hand we celebrated Santa Claus on the 25th, but then we learned that He had a French-speaking counterpart under the name of Saint Nicholas on the 6th December!
Utterly confusing perhaps, but being kids we fast understood the advantages: twice the presents ! Oui, oui merci!
At this stage, we were both perfectly fluent in French. After an initial scare around 7 years old in school, I quickly caught up with my classmates and used French as a true native from then on.

Step 4: The American youth culture years

At age 14 I discovered a new facet of English-speaking culture that came all the way from America: skateboarding, rock music, urban wear, hip hop and all the rest.
I read the skate magazines religiously and collected clippings of anything American. This passion exposed me to a slightly different version of English and added depth to my understanding as a future linguisist.
That year, my father went on a trip to America. He saw New York, Utah, the Grand Canyon… He brought us back USA license plates and flags that we put up on our wall. I started to read National Geographic to discover anything I could about this mysterious land where everything seemed so modern!

Step 5: A Bilingual family

This is our family in England at my cousin Chloe’s wedding in Norfolk. We are a well-seasoned bilingual family: exchanges were always in French and English at home, school was in French, I had been to the British scouts, TV was in two languages…
While my mum represented the English side, my father was the pillar of all things francophone. The name Reuland can be traced back to the town of the same name. He is a Belgian and Luxembourger which explains my 3 citizenships.
My brother is married to a Peruvian and speaks Spanish fluently on top of his knowledge of Dutch which he shares with myself and my father. Perhaps it runs in the family!

Step 6: The linguist years

These could be called my college years. At age 34, I had the opportunity to embark on a Master’s degree in English and German. My impulse for doing so were a desire to better myself and to claim knowledge of a more literary side of my heritage.
It was a rough 6 years but in the end, I graduated with distinction. After my Masters, I completed a PGCE to be a qualified teacher. I also started to collect all the TEFL certificates I could find!
I completed my Bachelors at a French-speaking university, my Masters at a Dutch-speaking one, and then back again to French for my Diploma in Education.

Step 7: Back to England !

We have come full circle. It was time for me to renew ties with my origins and go back to whence we came! For the following 5 years, I got to see my family everyday, and of course enjoy the simple fact of being in England.
I stayed between Derbyshire and Leicestershire and worked for several language schools. It was during this time that I started to build OuiCommunicate teaching both English and French.
This period was marked by a high musical activity as well as analog photography. It also allowed me to perfect my skill as a Master mince pie maker!

Step 8: Off to America!

Just when I thought I had settled for good, I was blessed with true love in the person of a wonderful young lady from Connecticut whom I married.
I re-opened OuiCommunicate LLC in the US and after a year of back and forth between CT and Europe, I might be settled in one spot for a while.
As a linguist, it is a bonus opportunity to experience the English language under a new angle by analyzing the differences with British.  When I am not teaching, I am enjoying family life and making music.

To conclude...

As I look back on these photos and the various stages of my life, it almost seems like I was predestined to work in languages. From being born into a family with 2 cultures and 2 languages, living in an area surrounded by Dutch, being exposed to Belgium, France, the UK and now the USA, earning my degree in German…Even my parents gave a lot of importance in our childhood to literacy and to “proper” speaking. 
My ambition with OuiCommunicate is certainly to share this gift of nature with the English-speaking world. Nothing would make me happier than making your journey easier.
Despite it sounding like an easy road for me, it really wasn’t and I particularly mean my own experience with German in college. I was actually so awful at it that I almost gave up entirely. The teachers certainly didn’t think I was much of a learner!
When I faced the urgent necessity of learning German all alone for my exam (lest I fail my year) I had to develop a very clear understanding of how German worked. I just had 2 months to learn it for my oral and my written exam. I had to move fast!
It’s this experience that most shaped my approach to teaching languages. When a learner understands what they are doing and knows the “mechanical” side of a language, they will not fail. For me, it was a matter of finding a no-nonsense system to know German quickly. 
One last thing I should share, is that I love to see students “achieve”. I enjoy being the person who enables others to achieve, simply because I think it is a beautiful thing. When you sign up with OuiCommunicate, it’s with the purpose of achieving French. I will do all I can to make it happen. Thanks for stopping by.