Organizer Spotlight: Los Angeles French Quarter

Los Angeles French Quarter

Christian, a native of Paris, joined the Los Angeles French Quarter Meetup back in 2003. In 2008, at the Meetup’s annual Christmas dinner, the previous Organizer announced that she was stepping down. She also announced that Christian would be taking over in her place. The announcement was news to Christian. “I was really, really caught by surprise,” he recalls, laughing. Despite the unconventional handover, Christian embraced the opportunity. “When I was just a member of the group I organized a weekly Meetup that became very popular – every Sunday we’d have lunch and bike ride on the beach. So I already knew how the group functioned and how to get people together. When she said that I was going to be the Organizer I said ‘no problem.’”

To an outsider, the Los Angeles French Quarter might look like any number of social Meetups. They go hiking, see concerts, and host potlucks, among other varied activities. But one thing sets them apart: they do it all while speaking French, all French, and nothing but French. When I ask Christian what makes his Meetup so successful he brings it back to his group’s golden rule: “we don’t translate,” he says. “That’s why people make a lot of progress very, very quickly. It forces the people who are not really fluent to get fluent.”

Christian knows from experience that an immersive approach to language learning makes all the difference. “I got to America without speaking English, and I’ve been here for 32 years now,” he says. How did he get around in those pre-Meetup, pre-internet days? “I carried a small dictionary in my pocket,” he says. “I learned by going out with American people, going to the movies, going to the beach, having my stupid dictionary in my hand. After six months I was understanding, and one year later I was dreaming in English.”

At 250 members, the Los Angeles French Quarter may not be the biggest language Meetup in the world, but that’s just the way Christian likes it. “I kick out at least 300 members a year,” he says. “If people don’t come after six months, or if they have three or four no-shows, that’s it.” This approach keeps the Meetup a close knit community. “Last year we had four weddings,” Christian boasts. “People meet through our Meetups and they connect together and that’s it, end of story, they get married. I went to a wedding last week for two people who met through the group.”

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Katie Hawley

Katie loves storytelling and also happens to be terribly fond of local community. She’s psyched to combine those passions, by sharing and celebrating the stories of the millions of awesome Meetup members.