La Méthode

I have been taking classes at Alliance Francaise for about three years in Washington, DC, but I also had a one week intensive class in Paris when I visited about two years ago. I have had numerous very good teachers, however, Sophie Urbanski was the very best for a number of reasons. I started in the 103 level class -- pratically the very beginning. Language learning is very difficult for me. Sophie made it possible for me to progress, because she knew how to explain very complicated grammar to the class without ever speaking a word of English to make us understand. She gave us homework to reinforce our learning. She involved every student in discussions and made sure everyone understood each lesson. And perhaps more important, she created a cohesive class. We got to know one another in class by playing games, creating scenarios together, role playing, etc.--all with the goal of understanding the new lesson. This was very good for conversational skills. Several of us from Sophie's classes have become friends and stayed in contact with one another, because she created a team spirit. No other teacher that I have had has been as successful in creating a cohesive group. And very importantly to me, we had fun in class -- which helps the learning process and makes you want to come back. Needless to say, I highly recommend Sophie Urbanski as a teacher!

Barbara Norland, Montgomery County, Maryland (just outside Washington, DC), USA

Sophie Urbanski saved my life. I came to Paris heartbroken and alone, and with Sophie's help, I could speak a little French.... but was still heartbroken and alone. hahaha
Seriously though....
Sophie Urbanski is a teacher who transcends the typical 'teacher" role. Bringing a positive energy and spirit to each lesson, I found myself engaged and learning the entire time. With Sophie's help, I moved to Paris after a year and a half of lessons, and stepping off the plane, I was ready to use what she taught me. I am constantly complemented on my French here in Paris, and the credit goes to Sophie. Her approach is straight-forward, reliable, and is based on getting you to use what you know! She keeps things simple and short. Over the last year and a half, I have adopted much more French, and consider myself bi-lingual, but it is completely based on the fantastic foundation that Sophie provided me with. I live, work, study, have relationships, and enjoy the real Paris because I speak French. I AM PROOF THAT HER TECHNIQUES REALLY WORK! Sophie has my absolute highest recommendation.

Jeff Suzda (27), musician living in Paris, France

Je suis tres heureux de lire que tu vas continuer instruire francais. Tu es un professeur excellent, avec beaucoup de patience et tu as une methode tres logique et claire. J'ai appris beaucoup avec toi (malheureusement j'ai oublie beaucoup aussi :-(

Geoffrey Henry, Washington DC

I had taken French classes at L'AF, Washington DC from Sept 2007 till April 2008 and Sophie was my teacher all throughout. What was a chance activity to pass time after office hours turned into a hobby and i credit it all to Sophie.

I am bereft of words to pen my experiences learning from Sophie.

Sophie teaches from the heart and not the books and her love for teaching and the French language is unparalleled.

Sophie herself has learnt English when she first came to United States , so having learnt a foreign language herself , she knows what a learner at any level of the French language would expect from a teacher and a course undertaken.

She has unique testing methods. The best i think is her involvement of the students to the fullest. The exercises at the end of the class were relevant to the course and the lesson that were learnt earlier.

Additionally the classes were never delayed , they always started on time and there never was a dull moment.
If i have to recommend anybody to take French lessons , Sophie would be my obvious choice.

Parag Bhabal , aged 29,
Mumbai , India

Senior Consultant at Capgemini Consulting India Pvt Ltd

"I usually find learning languages a very frustrating process - sitting through a two-hour class can seem like torture. But Sophie has developed an amazing way of teaching French that seemed to eliminate all frustration and actually make the process fun. I remember joking and laughing quite a bit in her classes, like when we had to conjugate the verb "to Smurf." Most importantly, I can't recall ever looking at the clock and wondering when class would be over. It sounds like a cliche, but it's true - Sophie really made learning French fun. And her methods clearly worked. After just a few months of lessons, my husband and I moved to Brussels and, in addition to being able to converse in shops and restaurants, we found we were able to search for an apartment, ask questions about administrative issues, and even deal with some bureaucratic tasks in French!"

Jennifer Gauck, Brussels

I took classes at Alliance Francaise to prepare for a 2 month house swap that my husband and I did in 2008. I had had some french in my background, but it had been a long time since I studied or used it. I was most fortunate to have Sophie Urbanski as my instructor in the first class I signed up for, and I made sure that I continued to take her classes from then on.
Sophie very quickly became a real favorite with me and all my classmates. She is an excellent instructor and personally friendly and charming. She has the amazing ability to make herself understood in french, even when the class is at the beginning level. She is so experienced that she knows how to express herself clearly and simply so that she can be understood by folks at all levels. She is a gentle but tough taskmaster. I think everyone felt that her classes were very valuable and that they learned far more than they imagined they could. She varies her approach from class to class and elicits maximum participation from the students by using exercises, games, even songs, to make the study interesting. I particularly enjoyed her focus on helping us understand french culture as well as the language. Her teaching served me well in my time in France. We had a fantastic time in a very rural area in central France, where almost no one spoke English. Sophie's lessons gave me a great deal of confidence to just "dive in" and use my french language skills. I know that my grammar was often wrong (I could see Sophie shaking her head!) but I was able to understand and be understood quite well.

Joan Zaro
Bethesda, MD, U.S.
65, retired, part time consultant and professional coach

Sophie Urbanski is the best and most fun foreign language teacher I've ever had. Well-prepared and inventive, Sophie will amaze you with how dynamically she conducts her classes and the energy she devotes to each student. Complete beginners soon develop the ability to interact in French. You not only learn nuances of vocabulary, correct grammar and proper pronunciation from a native speaker. More importantly, you gain confidence in your ability to express yourself in French without the crutch of a dictionary. Sophie's classes also gradually expose you to French culture, as well as the language. If you want to learn French, studying with Sophie is the best option you have.

Bill Simmons, Washington Post, Washington, DC USA

"Sophie uses creative and conversational approaches to encourage her language students to take an interest in, and to develop their French language skills. I thoroughly enjoyed Sophie's classes at L'Alliance Francaise, because they blended learning with discussions about French culture and elements of our personal lives."

Laurel Lundstrom
Washington, DC
USA, 30, Communications Officer, Pathfinder International

Sophie is the best French teacher I have ever had. I had been studying French on and off from middle school to college, and never really found a passion for the language until I met Sophie. She truly inspires her students, brings the language alive, and makes learning true fun. I highly recommend Sophie's program.

 Rebeccah, lawyer, Washington, DC, 34.

I took French in High School and College, and have taken classes in 2 independent language schools. I had some good teachers and some that were not so good, but the teacher I will always remember is Sophie.

Sophie is a wonderful teacher. I was lucky enough to take a class with her for 16 Saturdays, and my French improved more rapidly than ever before or since. Sophie was able to explain the grammar in a way that I could understand quickly. She provided us with activities to use the grammar skills in fun ways that made us want to challenge ourselves. The activities were also designed so that we were always practicing previously learned things as well. That way we never had time to forget things. I was so impressed with some of the things we did that I used them in my own classroom as a teacher of English language learners. My students were just as pleased with the lessons as I was.

In many classes although I want to learn I find my attention wandering and I find myself glancing at the clock. In Sophie’s class I rarely looked at the clock and when I did I was always surprised at how much time had gone by. The class was interesting and challenging from beginning to end.

Sophie also has the patience to allow students the time they need to say what they want to correctly. Many teachers I have had will finish a sentence for you if you are taking too long or correct you very quickly. Sophie would make you think until you remembered the expression or realized your mistake. She might help you by reviewing information. It could be a struggle but you would probably not make the same mistake again. There were no throw away sentences in Sophie’s class. Everything was an opportunity to learn and grow in your French skills.

Another nice thing about the class is that instead of practicing the skills we were learning by drills we had to use our imagination or talk about ourselves. In this way I got to know my classmates in a way I have not in other classes. Because of this I have been able to make real friends with my classmates from those weeks.

Anybody who has the opportunity to learn from Sophie should jump at the chance. I only wish I could have studied with her longer.

Lauralee Bruner, Washington DC