Aux Petits Soins™ — filling a cultural gap in Metro Lansing

My name is Gaëlle, and I am a native French speaker. I took time off from work after my first child was born in 2014 to devote to his development. As I began taking him to various mother-and-baby groups in the area, something remarkable began to happen.

I only speak in French to him because I want him to be bilingual and multicultural, and to my surprise, other parents who heard me speaking to him started asking me if I would speak to their children, too. I didn’t realize how many people in the U.S. were interested in the French language and culture. This gave me the idea to start a French language immersion class for babies.

I buried myself in research reports about the benefits of immersion learning and studied effective teaching strategies. Based on my research, I developed a three-step language immersion system I called Listen. Absorb. Speak.™ that help children and adults to learn French the same way they learned their native language. In April 2015, I launched Aux Petits Soins™ (oh puh-TEE swah), a French idiom that means “to take tender care of.” Aux Petits Soins is more than a language center, it’s little slice of Paris right here in Lansing.

A rapid expansion

first sessionI started with 11-week sessions teaching nursery rhymes that I learned as a child and making up songs to fit certain learning activities. Both parents and children responded well right away to the curriculum. Because of demand, I created programs that could accommodate children up to age 12. Classroom activities range from basic repetition exercises for the babies to having full conversations in French for the older students.

I soon outgrew my temporary space, and in October 2015, I rented a dedicated full-time teaching space.

What’s next?

People continue to ask me to create an adult equivalent of the Aux Petits Soins classes. At first, I didn’t have a desire to teach adults. I’ve found that children are avid learners and can quickly soak in new languages, but adults … not so much.

However, as the requests continue to pour in, I’ve begun to seriously consider expanding Aux Petits Soins™ into a multi-purpose, all-ages French culture center. Ideas include cooking classes, movie nights, painting lessons — the possibilities are endless.

This will be Aux Petits Soins™’ next big growth area. Make sure to stay tuned for the latest developments. You can subscribe to our quarterly Newsletter here.