How your clients refer to you:
Adults – Laura, Kids – Miss Laura
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 212-219-9893
How many years have you been in business in NYC?
10 years this Sept!
How did you get your start and what was your initial inspiration?
I was a professional opera singer and amateur linguist for several decades before meeting Maurice Hazan, founder of Tribeca Language and creator of The QTalk Method of Language Instruction. I had dabbled in language tutoring prior to discovering QTalk but once I was introduced to it, I knew I had to devote my life to helping people learn language. I moved to NY in 2008, became Director of Tribeca Language and then Executive Director of Teacher Training for QTalk. I took over as owner of Tribeca Language in May 2016.
What do you feel differentiates you from others in your field?
The greatest misunderstanding in language education (both in schools and at home with parents who speak another language besides English) is that listening, reading and writing will lead to speaking. They do not. They lead to what is called “passive comprehension” - one understands but can’t speak. Speech is muscular, like playing the piano. Yes, I must read the notes but my hands must build the muscles to play them. It’s the same with speaking. You must build the neuromuscular pathways though the practice of true recall. That means repeating vocabulary out loud without the support of text. The QTalk image library system with its inclusion of symbols for parts of speech beyond nouns allows us to do recall practice in complete sentences – even with children as young as 2. I would say our greatest advantage is that we have cracked the code on turning recall practice into fun games no one else has.
What do you feel gives you longevity in this big city with so many options?
NY is all about word of mouth. You can’t fake students wanting to come to your class and loving their teachers. You can’t make kids act like they don’t want to leave. I always say Maurice is like the Willy Wonka of language. He taught me how to give people the gift of learning through fun, Also I can spot someone who authentically loves kids a block away. I know how to hire teachers.
How do you positively impact your clientele?
Language has long been associated with feeling intimidated. I’ve worked with a shocking percentage of teachers who actually enjoy the feeling of superiority that brings. With our techniques, every single student who walks through the door gets to feel successful and that’s more important to me than anything. Most Americans believe they are “bad at language’ and it’s just not true. It’s all in the techniques used. Everyone can learn to speak other languages. We are born for it.
What is your favorite part of your job?
I have always been a grammar nerd. Creating materials and training teachers how to use visuals to demystify concepts for students of all ages is insanely rewarding for me. So teacher training, curriculum design and“Sticker Time” – my one-on-one time with every child at the end of class to check in and get my hugs.
What is your favorite secret NYC spot?
I am originally from California so I crave the water. For me, nothing clears my head like that walk along the Hudson from Tribeca to Battery Park. All those benches and grass and the view of Lady Liberty!
How do you benefit mamas?
The pressure NY moms feel to be perfect is unparalleled. Aside from providing tips for at-home reinforcement and how to learn along with their kids, I feel part of my job is to help mommys take a deep breath and trust that their children are just fine right where they are – even if they are going through challenging phases or have issues that need to be addressed by developmental specialists. Part of my mission is to remind mommys that mommy has to put her oxygen mask on first!
What is the most memorable feedback a client has given you?
I had an adult Irish male student once burst into tears while trying to express his gratitude for the method. He had taken Spanish so many different places and was certain he’d never learn to speak. That was extraordinary. Also, so many parents go out of their way to tell me how much their child loves class. It’s incredibly rewarding.
Pay it forward and name your top colleagues in the same field or related field:
I adore François Thibaut, Director/Founder of Language Workshop for Children. He is one of my favorite people on the planet and I love his program. Also Pascale Setbon of the Language & Laughter Studio in Brooklyn has been an inspiring mentor and friend.
What is the best advice anyone's ever given you? Or what is your "mantra" / words to live by?
Someone once pointed out that worrying is engaging in negative fantasy – what a waste of energy! If you’re going to fantasize, make it about something good!
As moms, the day can escape us, what is your best time-saving trick?
About 10 years ago I started the habit of keeping a little notebook by my bed and before I go to sleep I write down what has to get done the next day – only the “have to’s” and then I let myself off the hook for anything else that doesn’t get done.