TALK OF THE TOWN Languages & Cultural Services is run by husband and wife team Kimber Hawkey and Charles Gendrot. We offer the best choice in personalized language learning, cooking classes, wine tastings, wine + food pairing, local winery tours, translation/interpretation, as well as trip planning abroad and pre-trip preparation.
Kimber Hawkey is a committed and effective educator whose unique qualifications include over 20 years of international teaching experience in the USA, France, Spain, and Kenya. She has also traveled widely throughout Latin America and Europe. She holds multiple degrees – Masters in French Literature, Masters in Teaching ESL, a Diploma in Teaching Foreign Languages, and a Diploma in Spanish Studies. Her talent in the kitchen comes first from her mother and then from years spent in home-kitchens around the world with her friends.
Charles Gendrot, himself a world traveler, is a passionate and talented French winemaker. From the Bordeaux wine region, he has crafted wines for over a 100 chateaux in the world. He came to the USA to work for the premium wineries of Kendall Jackson Family Farms in Sonoma CA. He then came to VA where he made the rose’ sparkling served to the Queen at the White House as well as the wine served at the Clinton wedding.
I highly recommend Kimber Hawkey who was my French Professor at PVCC in two beginning French courses (101 and 102). Previous to these courses, I had spoken Spanish and was quite anxious about being able to differentiate between the two different languages. Her demeanor is such that I was quickly put at ease in the classroom environment. Indeed, her perfect level of fluency in the three languages also allowed her to easily explain and compare even complicated grammar topics. She doesn’t just stand at the blackboard. She engages students to participate. There are songs, group activities, skits, and food. She makes you feel as if you have been to Paris and back. Even now, even though she is no longer a professor of mine, she will always write me in French, so I am actually still learning from her.
One of the best things about Ms. Hawkey as a teacher is that she truly loves the language and culture and is incredibly enthusiastic about teaching. Her enthusiasm is infectious, and as a student, I could feel her passion for teaching. She came into class everyday happy and prepared to conduct the lesson with pertinent activities back by solid knowledge. What also made her classes so interesting was that she had personal stories from living in France to reflect what was in the textbook. She doesn’t only teach you the language; she is able to explain cultural realities both in depth and on a personal level. Her personal experience with the people, the food, the wine, the geography brings life to the course and allows students to better understand the French culture. In the end, students are motivated to travel in the Francophone world themselves.
Additionally, I would like to say that I have even used her language learning and study methods to excel in my other classes. As a student who has been in many classrooms, Mme. Hawkey truly stands out amongst her peers. In closing, I can honestly say that Mme. Hawkey is by far the best professor I have ever had the pleasure of learning from.Heather
Mme. Hawkey is extremely organized and cares about her students’ learning goals. She knows that I’m interested in reviving my long-dead french from high school and college, in order to fully experience French culture on my next trip there, and she suggested helpful techniques, books, and conversation opportunities. For instance, she told me about a French Netflix, which I am going to check out, for sure. Her “Cercle de crèpes” meetups draw others learning French or those keeping skills current.
Other helpful attributes of her class:
1. Fiches de vocabulaire: she’s developed her own system to maximize student mastery. This system involves repetition, writing, and consistent self-testing. She checks these self-tests as part of homework. By the time the test rolls around, students have learned the vocabulary, rather painlessly, in my view.
2. She assigns note-taking and written exercises, both of which help codify and cement learning. This makes discussions and review more helpful, in that it allows her to concentrate on fine points of grammar in addition to the basics. She often knows the history or tradition behind certain words or phrases. This enhances meaning. Also, she often shares slang, favorite French expressions, or cultural idiosyncrasies.
3. Her Blackboard site offers a variety of links to online tools, photos, links to funny or serious videos.
But the most effective element of the class is Mme. Hawkey herself.
In the first class, she brought to our attention the particular way the French “kiss the air,” as they speak, and pointed us to an online video illustrating this.
Her presence in class is dynamic, energetic, and completely French. Her impeccable French flows from the moment the class starts until it ends. She constantly asks, en francais, “Vous avez compris?” to make certain our comprehension is where it needs to be, and that no one is falling behind. She emphasizes the need to “think in French,” and I really found that to be true: once I wrote and repeated the vocabulary words, along with the grammar-and-use exercises, and paid attention in class as well as to the language and culture readings, I really started to think in French. In the grocery store, it was hard to avoid using French words for vegetables when asking for a particular item, or commenting to another shopper.
It’s obvious that she loves France and the French, she loves teaching, and she loves sharing this culture. She infects her students, at least this one, with this enthusiasm for “getting into the skin” of people from a another culture. I feel (unexpectedly) more grounded in French culture and language than I thought I would.Betty Joyce Nash
Our class came to the conclusion that KIMBER is an ER verb meaning “to TEACH ENTHUSIASTICALLY”! So we conjugated her like the active verb that she is!
In Spanish: In French:
yo KIMBO je KIMBE
tu KIMBES tu KIMBES
el/ella/usted KIMBE il/elle/on KIMBE
nosotros,as KIMBEMOS nous KIMBONS
vosotros,as KIMBEIS vous KIMBEZ
ellos/ellas/ustedes KIMBEN ils/elles/ KIMBENT