English to French Live Interpretation Professional John-trumaine Clay
Member since January 22, 2013
I was fascinated with the French language every since I heard a news broadcast on a public access channel when I was only 7 years old. I then found a French book and promised myself that one day I would speak the language. I was lucky enough to have a French-speaking neighbor from Haiti a few doors down, Madame Douyon. She was my first French teacher and taught me the basics: alphabet, numbers, greetings, etc.
Fast-forward 9 years, I was a full-fledge "Francophile" and by 16 when I went to France for the first time. I was hosted by the lovely Corbiere family near Montpeillier in the south of France. The Corbieres were known as "Pied Noir" (literally "Black foot"), or a term referring to French citizens who lived in French Algeria before independence. The first month in Montpeillier was brutal! There was so much that I did not know. I had to train my ear and learn very fast in order to communicate. That summer, I fell even more in love with the French language and culture.
When I came back home to Chicago, I begged my parents to send me to Paris for school. Reluctantly, they agreed and when I was 17 years old, after graduating high-school I moved to France where I attended the American University of Paris. I again had a stroke of luck and found lodging with the Sylveres, a French family originally from the Caribbean island of Guadalupe. I felt right at home there. I had a loving French family, friends, spoke French everyday, ate delicious French food and lived life a typical French teenager. Then, after exactly two years of living in the French capital something extraordinary happened. In the midst of a casual conversation, I realized that I was fluent! Able to completely understand and express myself in French, I had realized a childhood dream.
Since then, I have started a small-business in France, taught French with several prominent language learning centers, and consult on French culture. My French skills has also afforded me the opportunity to work for several French and Belgian companies here in the U.S. and overseas.