Cecile Espigole, on the steps of her Queenslander home in Maryborough, celebrates Bastille Day.
Cecile Espigole, on the steps of her Queenslander home in Maryborough, celebrates Bastille Day. JOCELYN WATTS

Cecile starts own revolution

A FRENCH revolution of sorts is simmering on the banks of the Mary River.

Cecile Espigole, a native of St Etienne to the east of France, is literally spreading the Gallic word and the good people of Maryborough are lapping it up.

In just two years her French language courses, now held in the picturesque and cultural surrounds of Gatakers Artspace, have attracted 166 students.

“I am amazed at how popular the classes are,” Ms Espigole says.

“The Maryborough people are really amazing with the French classes and there are now students coming from all around the region.

“What motivates them? I think it’s more than just an interest in the French culture because learning a language requires a lot of work, time and effort.”

The language classes are only the tip of the cultural iceberg.

Ms Espigole, who moved to Maryborough four years ago, also runs a French conversation club at the Federal Hotel on Kent Street on the fourth Wednesday of each month.

The final conversation club of the year, celebrating

Christmas, was staged last night.

A French book club, specially screened French movies and a selection of events marking significant dates on the French calendar are also run during the year.

A French immersion weekend at Rainbow Beach earlier this year was a triumph.

“The students had to speak French non-stop for 48 hours,” she says.

“They had to cook French food, they had to eat French food. They had to watch French movies, play French games.

“Hopefully they ended up dreaming in French.

“What sounded like mission impossible for some ended up being a real breakthrough.

“These weekends are unique in Australia; nobody else does that as far as I know.”

The French connection goes international with the next chapter, a linguistic trip to the French Riviera, next June.

“All the visits and guided tours will be in French and the participants will have a French buddy who will look after them and speak French to them.”

Innovative in the extreme, Ms Espigole also has plans for a blog to be called Fraser Coast in French where her students can comment and interact in French.



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