Meet The Team
Well Hello there! If you haven't already done so, go and read the about page to learn a little about what this site is about and how we ended up in France. I promise it's not what you think.
In the mean time, here is a little bit about our brood of 5.
Annie & Blake
My name is Annie and my husband's name is Blake. We met while working for the same company in silicon valley California.
Blake was the director of software QA in the engineering department and I worked as a database marketing analyst and web traffic optimizer in the business-Development department.
Blake is American born and attended UVM (university of Vermont in Burlington). Aside from doing a year abroad at Heidelberg University in Germany, he has always lived in the US but has travelled quite a bit. I think he was actually a Francophile before I ever met him.
As for me, I was born in Thailand to a Thai mother and French Canadian father. We moved to the US when I was about four or five years old and lived in Santa Clara and San Jose. I then went to Montreal to live with my aunt where I attended a Francophone High school so I actually spoke French before I even came to France. I attended UC Santa Cruz but started a little late because I took a gap year to live in Japan and travel which actually ended up lasting almost 3 1/2 years.
We have a blended family. I have two boys from a previous marriage who Blake has helped raise since they were ages 5 & 7 years old. Blake and I also have a daughter together
I kept my maiden name and my boys have their biological father's name so between the five of us, we have three different last names. To make matters even more confusing, one of my son's first name is my maiden name which makes some customs officers at airports scratch their head.
We originally moved to France for what was supposed to be a one-year sabbatical because we thought it would not only be a fantastic for our family to experience together, but also to recharge our batteries after a bout of unemployment due to the recession that hit most of North America which you can read about here.
4,5,6,7,8,9, 10 years old
My daughter was only 4 years old when we first came to France but she was already bilingual- well as much as a 4-year-old can be at that age.
She has only lived in the US for 3 years, then about a year in Montreal Canada. After that, we left for France where she has lived ever since. Because she has spent so little time in the US she knows very little about American culture except for what we show her at home and from what she sees in the movies. You could say that she is a third culture kid. If you don't know what that is, look it up. It's really interesting.
Although Catherine spoke French before we came to France, she spoke more like a Quebecois because that is how I spoke and that is how my family speaks. If you don't know what Quebecois is, it is the dialect of French spoken in the province of Quebec Canada.
I mainstreamed Catherine in a public French preschool as soon as we arrived in France back in 2011 where she soon picked up the French accent. Now when we return to Montreal to visit family, it's very noticeable that she has adopted the French accent. Actually, she speaks like a French person from the south of France which is different than how someone from Paris speaks. Akin to how someone from California, Texas and New York might speak differently, if that makes sense.
15,16,17,18,19,20, 21 years old
When we arrived in France, Kieran was just 15 years old. He spoke only a few phrases of French which he picked up from hearing me talk to Catherine and from having spent a year in Montreal before moving to France.
Having grown up in a multilingual home, I knew that Kirean would pick up French faster if he was fully immersed in the language so It was a no brainer for me what I wanted to do. I mainstreamed him into a public French High School. I won't lie, I think it was hard for him and this is something you need to consider if you plan on bringing teens to France.
His Junior year, Kieran decided he wanted to give American high school a try so we let him go back to live with his biological father. I thought for sure he would never come back to France but he did after only a year and a half. I think it wasn't what he expected. American high school is often glamorized on the television so this might have had something to do with his disappointment.
Now he attends the University of Montpellier and is majoring in Political science. All his courses are in French, needless to say, he is bilingual.
13,14,15,16,17,18,19, 20 years old
Andre is the middle child and was just 13 when we moved to France back in 2011. Andre, like his brother Kieran, spoke just a few phrases of French.
I mainstreamed him in public middle school and at first, he was struggling with the language and his coursework which was all in French. But then again, Andre has always been one of those children who doesn't do well in a structured classroom.
The second year in France, we moved to a new town and Andre made friends with a group of kids. Literally, within a few months, I noticed how much his French improved. He surpassed his brothers level within a few months which I can only attribute to the fact that Andre was talking everyday with friends in French. Kieran's progression was much slower I think because he was shyer.
Andre has since finished High school and has no plans higher education at the moment. Instead he is working on his freelancing career as a graphic artist. He does logos, brand identities and other things which he pretty much taught himself to do.