Remi teaching a corporate class
Who would think that a French architect could become a language school principal in Singapore? I am sure that even Remi Malachin of French Toast Language Center himself wouldn’t believe the story. Yet that is what happened.
Wanting to experience working in another country, he learned about Singapore on the Internet in September 2007, and having arranged a job and apartment, set his first foot on Singapore soil on January 10th, 2008.
How could he have foreseen that in a few months, he would be married to his newly met Singaporean wife and expecting a daughter? Settling down so quickly, he was looking for a job that would allow him to spend more time with his family.
He initially found that in French tutoring, which he started doing in weekends and later dedicated himself to it full-time. Just a few months later, he was teaching 20 students, 7 days a week, and still receiving lots of enquiries. Time to grow bigger. And so French Toast Language Center was born on 1st June 2010.
In October 2010 he opened the doors of his French Toast Language Center at Upper Thomson Road. I’ve been there, and the hand of the architect is visible – it’s a really cozy place with 2 big classrooms, a small one and a reading room.
Remi believes in combining professionalism with fun. You can sure see the fun aspect in the schools name and logo. Many students join French Toast’s courses wanting to learn about French culture on top of the language, and they want to have a good time learning. But don’t confuse fun with a loose attitude. He places great importance on listening to his students, have staff committed to honoring commitments, and making sure any inquiry is answered promptly and professionally.
Every student learns differently, so he and his tutors make sure to approach every student on their own terms. For classes, he has selected materials he believes are good, but recognizes the class ends up to be totally different when the different teachers use the exact same materials.
So hiring good teachers is very important and French Toast looks for motivated and professional teachers, who are passionate about French language and culture. Another criterion is that teachers preferably need to be in Singapore for at least another 2-3 years, so that students won’t have to cope with constantly changing teachers. I reckon that this last criterion makes the search rather hard: most native French speakers in Singapore are here only for a limited period.
French Toast’s student population is diverse. They have taught students from 20 different countries, aged from 2 to 62 years old. About 50% of them are Singaporean, and the rest come from all over the world (Australia, China, Japan, New Zealand, Brunei, Argentine, USA, Germany, Belgium…).
And there are many different motivations to learn French. Some students are children and teenagers learning french at school as a second or third language; others learn French for work purposes, then there are some students who learn French because they are dating or are married to a French speaker. But most students learn out of pure interest, because they like the sound of the language, the culture, the country, and because they are eventually planning to go to France, be it for study, work or holidays.
As a young school, French Toast’s future is already looking bright. The growth rate during the first few months of the school is extremely encouraging, and the team is already starting to think about moving to larger premises. The wish list includes more classrooms, a bigger library and reading room and one room dedicated to children with appropriate design, decoration and materials.
Looking 5 years down the road, Remi considers the language school as just the tip of the iceberg, the very beginning of a much bigger project. But he smiles mysteriously when asked what that project might be. “Let me just say that it has something to do with French culture”.
Want to find out more about French Toast? You’ll find their school profile and French courses on Yago.sg!