Learn French with a world-traveling linguaphile


In keeping with my intention to share “interesting language-related material from deserving folks I know” (see post), I’d like to introduce an amazing teacher, Julie Erard. Julie is a native French speaker, but trilingual in English and Spanish, and speaks multiple other languages (like Arabic) as well. For the last eight years, she’s been living and traveling around the world, teaching language classes online. I connected with Julie through the italki app around September of 2021, and have been taking weekly French conversation lessons with her ever since. Julie’s knowledge of language is rich and inductively-learned from years of teaching language speakers of all different backgrounds and from studying so many languages herself. Her contagious energy means our discussions are always interesting. Plus, I’ve loved being a vicarious globetrotter – hearing about her adventures over the past two-plus years though Jordan, Nepal, Thailand, Egypt, and Spain.

If you’re interested in learning French with Julie, head to her website, Towanda Language School. You can also look her up on italki, view her YouTube page, or check out her Instagram. She has a brand-new podcast for intermediate learners too.

Dig deep enough on her YouTube channel and you can even find an “interview” she did with me back in March of 2022, where we discussed whether technology can replace language learning (video here). This predated the public release of ChatGPT and other LLMs, so (although I was a language tech insider) my main prediction feels embarrassingly outdated…HOWEVER, I stand by my various points regarding AI’s difficulties with context, implicature, and lesser-spoken languages – not to mention the value of genuine human interaction.

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