Students say “Bonjour!” to Madame Farley


Brandon Verna

Madame Farley is eager to teacher students about French and help them learn.

Brandon Verna

This August, Southern Lehigh welcomed its new French teacher, Mrs. Leila Farley, with open arms. A native French speaker, she is eager to share her knowledge with Southern Lehigh students. She holds an interesting perspective on the importance of learning a foreign language, as English was once a foreign language to her. 

While she is a new face in the eyes of the students, Mrs. Farley lives in the area and appreciates the proximity to major cities like New York City and Philadelphia.

“My husband attended this school. I purchased a house in this school district because he recommended it,” she said. “[When] they told me there was a job opening, with no hesitation, I applied.”

Mrs. Farley studied Japanese language and civilization at the University of Paris, with dreams of eventually moving to Japan. After her studies in France, she moved to America, where her interests were redirected. 

“When I came to America 17 years ago, I didn’t know exactly what to do…I had to go back to college and redirect my education.” she said. “I decided to become a French teacher because it just [made] sense, and I have no regrets to [this] day.”

She earned a bachelor’s degree in Adolescent Education at SUNY Cortland, and later a Master’s of Education from SUNY Cortland.

“I started [teaching] in upstate New York where the standards are very high,” she said. “I believe it prepared me to teach French comfortably.”

Mrs. Farley has very ambitious goals for students’ accomplishments. She looks to teach her students French through storytelling, an innovative method that aims to greatly improve students’ vocabulary.

“We are trying to teach language using mostly vocabulary in context, using lots of gestures,” she said, “not so much using vocabulary lists and grammar-oriented tasks.”

She wants students to acquire French in fun, natural ways. Mrs. Farley wants to see her students grow and succeed in her first year here, and is excited to see the impact her teaching technique has on students’ knowledge.

As the school’s only French teacher, Mrs. Farley has lots of flexibility with her teaching, and she is willing to readjust and accommodate her students’ needs. She is also the French Club advisor, helping motivated French students further their studies and love of the language. 

Having attended high school in France, Mrs. Farley provides an interesting perspective on high school here in the United States.

“In France, there is no spirit in school, we are not trying to build a community…there are no sports, no teams, nothing extracurricular,” she said. “So when we watch your movies we are obviously envious.”