Jeff Longard

Jeff Longard


I was born and partially developed in Nova Scotia, youngest of three brothers-I don't think I was really the baby, since I had to compete right from the start. I was always interested in languages; I started in French in elementary school and also tried to learn German on my own. I spent my adolescence in Chilliwack, British Columbia. High school math classes were devoted to learning Swahili, Mandarin and German with an equally language-obsessed delinquent friend. My math skills are rudimentary. (Unfortunately, so are my Swahili, Mandarin and German skills-so kids, finish high school and don't do drugs!) (Okay, I finished high school and I didn't do drugs.) My first degree was in theology, with a concentration on biblical Greek and Hebrew. After marrying the incredible Loretta (we got engaged by telephone while I was in Chilliwack and she was spending a year in Hong Kong-ah, you have no idea of a world without cellphones, internet and Skype!!) I served as pastor of small churches for two decades, far from the world of modern languages, until deciding in 2007 that a career change was the right move. With my family's support, I returned to studies, by a serendipitous choice focusing on French. The rest, as they say, is history: three degrees later, teaching French is my vocation and passion.

What is your favourite thing about teaching?

I treasure the moment when students suddenly realize that they have moved from laboriously constructing small translation blocks in a foreign code to communicating, even at a basic level, in another language. It is all the more delightful because it always arrives sooner than they expect, and indeed just when they believe it never will.

What is the last book you read and loved?

La Loi du plus faible, by John Grisham. I enjoy his jaded-lawyer-turns-hero-for-the-underdog stories.

If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?

Loretta and I have a dream of doing a "francophone island tour" from Anticosti through les Îles de la Madeleine to Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon. Aside from the natural beauty and the extraordinary cuisines, francophone island culture in three locations and two different countries would be fascinating to explore.

What 3 words best describe your experience as a teacher?

Wow, what a question! Let's say Fear, Confidence, Reality. I started by being quite terrified at the notion of setting myself up, a middle-aged person in a field that was new to me, before a group of students. The pleasure that surviving and actually succeeding in those first few years gave to me led to the conviction that I was in the right place. Time is showing me how much I have yet to learn: I have knowledge and strategies to impart to students but very imperfectly -- we are colleagues on a journey together and have much to teach each other.

What is your favourite word in French?

I'll admit that I enjoy "déjeuner" because it reveals the historic linguistic parallels in English and French: in both modern languages it means "breakfast" and in both early languages it literally means "break fast". But there are so many others!