Alliance Française de Brisbane student Renaté Montague discovered her love of the French language travelling Europe. “I realised everybody over there understood at least two languages, and that made me feel uneducated and ignorant!”

Returning home, Renaté enrolled at the French language and cultural centre on Montague Road where she has been learning the language for a number of years. “It’s interesting — it keeps the brain doing interesting things. I like doing puzzles, and learning a language is like one big puzzle.”

Renaté first began learning French in high school, and after picking up the language again after a long break, can now have basic conversations while she travels the French countryside. Her skills helped her out of a sticky situation on her most recent trip. “Travelling around the French countryside, we realised we were hopelessly lost, and we were going to be very late to checking into our hotel. I was able to ring the hotel and tell them we were going to be late and arrange to pick the keys up from somewhere else. It was so gratifying, and you can tell [the French people] really appreciate it when you try to speak the language, no matter how broken.”

Renaté has picked up the French language with the help of her “brilliant” teachers, who she says offer more than just lessons. Alliance Française also boasts a library, language workshops, cooking classes, a French choir to join and a range of activities so students can experience more than the language. For Renaté, while learning French, she has discovered a culture she loves almost as much as her beloved croissants.