An interview with the Hamori Family
The creators of LivEnglish Canada.
We are the Hamori family, Canadians from White Rock, B.C. Canada.
Our family left Canada in 2011 on a gap year and did not come back for a decade! That’s right 10 years as vagabonds travelling with children around Europe.
How old were the children when you left Canada and what were your plans?
The children were five and seven years old at the time. We did not know where we wanted to go in Europe exactly, only that we wanted to expose them and ourselves to traditional European culture, languages and travel. We did not have a firm plan as to what we would do for work either, just the idea that there must be more to life than working so very hard and never really getting ahead. It was as if we were on a metaphorical treadmill, always in one spot no matter how hard we tried. We worked long hours, volunteered at the children’s school, and took the kids to their extracurricular activities and honestly, life was exhausting. We lived to work. Sure we made money, but there was no time left at the end of each long day to truly enjoy what life has to offer.
What is time currency?
‘Time Currency’ for our purpose refers to the value of time not working, a system where time doing activities outside of work has more value than money.
A very good friend of mine introduced me to the idea of “Time Currency” back in Canada. Click the link to our blog “My Expat Life, That’s Hamori” to read more about our 10 years as Canadian expats living in Europe.
The motto of this prolific time in our lives, is that time spent together as a family has real value. Europeans believe that you work to live. And live they do! They manage to find a good balance between work hours and play hours that makes Europe truly enviable. Even the poorest among them go for picnics, gather together to enjoy each other’s company; proving that you do not need a lot to have a very rich and meaningful life.
How did you prepare for your move?
My husband sold his auto recycling business, our cars, and our family home, and I took a leave of absence from my work of twenty years and off we went. We got rid of everything material by liquified all our assets, got down to the essentials, two suitcases each, and jumped on a plane heading for Europe. It was simple plan really.
What did your friends and family think about you moving away?
To most people looking in, it looked as though we had made it; nice home, great jobs, fabulous kids. Some people thought we were seriously crazy to be leaving everything behind. Most people were coming to Canada, not leaving for Europe, but my husband and I don’t regret any of our moves to any of our three countries. The many lessons we learned along the way were worth the initial fear by moving outside of our comfort zones. After a while, we just got things done, learned to rely on each other, created business and learned new languages as we went. And the people we met along our journey, well, it seems like we are blessed in this aspect of life. Some of the best people we have the pleasure of calling our friends entered our lives in France and Hungary.
When I walk along with two others, from at least one I will learn.Confucius
Where did your adventures begin?
In Europe we started in Budapest, Hungary and explored many areas on foot and by car. The kids kept up on scooters. We loved the city but the dream for Alfonz really was south, a place with more sun. After a lot of exploring along the Danube River through Austria, down the Neckar River in Germany, and the Northern regions of Italy, we eventually found a little village in Languedoc – Roussillon (now Occitania) in southern France near the Mediterranean Sea, right on the Canal du Midi. It is called Capestang, and we quickly found the perfect villa, put the children into the French public school system, and started to reinvent our lives. Our life was biking around the village, going to the square, meeting new friends and enjoying a far slower paced lifestyle. Eventually we started teaching English as an alternative language to the locals, and Alfonz also created a wine and gastronomic touring company. Life was sweet, full of exploration, growth, and lots of family time.
From that came business?
Yes, LivEnglish France was born. Students came to us from all over France, even Spain, Basque, Italy and Monte Carlo to live with our Canadian family. They were learning English through immersion during their vacation breaks. Our students kept coming back for more. Whatever we were doing, they were responding to us. And our children loved having kids in our home all the time.
Did you go back to school then?
Alfonz and I both went back to school to get our TESOL English Second Language certifications and eventually I went back to university to get a teaching degree. Alfonz had other interests too and he got his wine and spritzer certification.
What was life like in France?
Life was beautiful, productive and fun. It was warm out, 320 days of sunshine per year, and the country was culturally rich. Oh and the food, heaven help us all. We lived in France until 2016. When we decided to leave, I left a little piece of my heart in our French village.
When did you decide to move to Hungary?
By the end of our time in France we spoke French, knew the area, created business and had a very prolific life in the south. But something kept pulling us back to Budapest, Hungary. The metropolitan city was the polar opposite to rural France surrounded by vineyards, and the children where now 10 and 12 years old and they were itching for more things to do and see as they grew. Hungary offered another lifestyle, mostly travelling by foot, train or bus, the children could start venturing out on their own, exploring by themselves. We decided to move our business with us in 2016. LivEnglish Hungary was created. French and Hungarian students would become part of our programs. “To vacation with your teacher“, that was our new business concept and Hungary welcomed us with open arms and the French followed us there.
How was LivEnglish received in Hungary?
Hungarians loved our programs. At first, I got a job at the French private school where the children attended and we realized very quickly that teaching English from an anglophone teacher was a very rare commodity in Hungary. Our business grew to tutoring students from 5-65 years of age both online and in person.
International school aged students living in Hungary were craving an English immersion experience, where they are able to use their new language and interact with native English speakers. Immersion programs, like homestay living with a host family, exchange programs like we offer here in Nanaimo, or travelling abroad are truly the most effective ways for students to learn languages. This proved true in Hungary too. By living inside an English speaking family like ours in Canada, students get to practice throughout the day, go to a nearby school with regular classes in native English and make friends both local and international. They learn English from English speakers first-hand and others from all over the world who have a serious desire to make the most of their time abroad. They explore the areas, want to experience Canada as best they can during their time here. It is the everyday stuff, those little intricacies of the English language that you just cannot pick-up in class time.
What are the English teachers like in international schools?
Most teachers in France and Hungary speak French or Hungarian during class time, translating for the students word for word, but this seems only to delay the process of deep learning. Students end up relying on translations inplace of trying to explain themselves using the words they already know or for them to search for the meaning of things on their own. Connecting the dots in their learning. Immersion is far more effective, and efficient than traditional classroom rote learning methods that we seem to see over and again in Europe. Also every student learns differently. Generally speaking, students learn by connecting new knowledge with knowledge and concepts that they already know, most effectively in active social classrooms where they negotiate understanding through interaction and varied approaches. In traditional European schools, from my experience, they offer more downward learning, lessons based on testing and memory and less varied approaches. Immersion simply fills in the blanks to their English learning experience.
What is Budapest like?
Budapest is this glorious city on the Danube River; Buda on the hill and Pest down below. The architecture looks like Paris France, or Vienna Austria with grand walk-up style buildings with 4-metre ceilings, giant swinging doors, wide roads, bustling city life, and manicured parks at every turn. Hungarians love to picnic, meet up for walks, lunch in little cafes, or invite friends over for a back-yard cook-out. There are many lakes, and rivers in Hungary, so even though they are land locked and have no sea, you often forget. We lived in a house we built in Solymar in the Pilis Mountains, which was on the Compostela trail where thousands of people from all over Europe would come through on their pilgrimage. It is a stunning, four distinct season country, with rich food and a beautiful, yet difficult logical and phonetic language.
Why go home to Canada?
After five years in Hungary, and with COVID restrictions, we had to make the hard decision to return to Canada. Truly bittersweet to leave all our friends and family behind, and our LivEnglish Hungary languages programs that we offered were very well received in such an academic school environment. Further, Daniel, our son, was starting International Business at the Vancouver Island University in Nanaimo, so we decided to follow his lead and move to Vancouver Island with him. That’s how we ended up in this park like setting, with ancient forests surrounding us, next to the quiet Pacific Ocean. Nature is all around us. Fresh clean air, an abundance of wildlife, ancient trees, and it is a very safe place to live.
Why LivEnglish Canada recruitment?
With all our connections in Europe, it just made sense to continue to connect people who believe in the same teaching methods as ourselves. It is easy to sell something we truly believe in. So, we now bring students from France and Hungary to Canada to learn through the exchange programs offered in the Nanaimo School District. There are six high-schools with approximately 400 international student placements in the area we live. Some are five-month long programs while others are a full 1-year program. They even offer summer programs starting in 2022!
We welcome students to experience our Canadian culture in the exact same way we did in France and Hungary; learning languages by living them. Live English in Canada = LivEnglish Canada, your direct connection to Canadian student exchange programs.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us.