The following interview is part of an interview series in which we feature education professionals from a variety of different fields in order to highlight individual efforts and creative solutions to education in the 21st century. If you want to participate simply write down and send your answers to the five below questions to info {at} learnoutlive.com and include a picture of yourself. (Please note that we reserve the right to not publish all submissions)

1. Who are you and what do you do in education?

Sophie_dePonsI always think of myself as having 2 lives. One in the past, when I was in France where I was born and grew up, and one now, in Florida where I live. The two are completely different. In France, I studied business and had a typical career in Human resources in a big company. In the States, I am my own boss because that is what I always wanted to be and I must admit, it is much easier to do it here than in France.

I chose the path of tutoring French by chance. One of my friends was looking to improve her French and I started to help her. I realized that I really enjoyed doing so, and it reminded me of being 7 or 8 playing teacher in my bedroom in front of invisible pupils…I didn’t follow this path then because everyone around me was telling me that I would never make money with that profession. Well, they were not completely wrong, unfortunately…. So I cannot say I have many years of tutoring experience behind me but I get very good reviews from my clients on sites where I advertise my services and that is very rewarding.

What I like the most now is the contact with my clients especially always trying to offer them the best professional services that I can.

2. Describe a typical work day in your life!

I just turned 49 but I am a young mother! My younger kid is 5….So my day is full. After dropping him off at daycare and after a good homemade cappuccino, my day is a mixture of private lessons, group lessons, Skype lessons, organizing meetings with my french club through Meetup , working on my blog, updating my professional Facebook page, following sites like Edupreneurs Club (all all the very inspiring edupreneurs there), Fair Languages and Twitter (among many others) to stay informed of all new trends in education, and all available resources that can help me build my lessons and most of all be more efficient. When I find extra time, I work on an e-book of French texts that I hope to publish soon. Let’s be honest: I would have much more time if I didn’t have two mornings a week playing competitive tennis against clubs in the women’s league, but I cannot stop this. Tennis is my other passion.

3. In what way has technology in general and the net in particular changed your work?

I have always been a fan of new technology and internet. My daughter who is 18 always says that I am more aware of new trends in that field than she is. Even in my career as a Human resources manager, I was always ahead in that field. It was therefore very natural for me to apply this interest in the education field. I like to use a wide variety of resources and tools to help my clients improve faster. However, the challenge for me now is to find the time. For example, I have wanted to start making videos for YouTube for years, yet I still haven’t found the time to do it. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed when thinking of all that I could and should do and also seeing all the competition out there doing so, and sadly this just diminishes my energy. A weakness….

4. What challenges do you see for education in the future?

Education is a very broad field and I only operate in a very small portion of it. In a broader sense, I believe that education has to be revived by new trends like the concept of flipped classroom which I actually try to apply in my own tutoring approach.

The challenge is to convince everyone of the necessity of renewal and to get things done, especially in countries like France where everything is….so…..slow…..to…..change…..My older son is in school in Paris and seeing him still take notes on a paper notebook while the teacher is talking makes me crazy. Also, I believe in public school and hate to see that more and more of my friends put their kids in private school because these schools have better teachers with more resources, especially in the States. There is a real challenge for public schools to find the funds and the energy to keep attracting students and stay alive.

In the tutoring field, the challenge is to keep the clients motivated to learn and to teach them how to use the many free resources on the net wisely, whilst encouraging them to continue to use paying services and to pay good money for them. I must admit that seeing teachers/tutors charging sometimes so little, especially for their Skype lessons, drives me nuts. They are devaluing the profession and the asset that is speaking another language. Of course, it is a dream that everyone have access to free or very cheap education on the net and luckily it is more and more the case, but there will always be people who at some point need a tutor: this is a niche and in business, any niche requires specific, highly valued services.

You might have noticed: I never call my clients students. They are clients, customers. I run a business. If I cannot offer my clients anything else than what the net offers, then yes, my services have to be cheap, even free. But I strongly believe that I offer them an added value and a global offer, thus justifying charging a higher rate. This should be all private teachers/tutors’ strategy.

4. Where can we find you online?

My website: french-classes4u.com
My blog: french-amis.com
My Facebook page: facebook.com/french.amis