Ruth Lyon-Fuchs, 58, a Ballantyne resident and French teacher at Northwestern High School in Rock Hill, has developed the only advanced placement French study application available for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch.
Launched in February, the application is called AP French Review and contains 28 French lectures. Each lecture has accompanying vocabulary flash cards and a test. The app contains 100 minutes of audio and scrolling lectures, 700 flash cards with audio and 425 multiple-choice test questions.
If a student answers a test question incorrectly, text explains why the answer is wrong so the student can learn the correct answer.
"In any higher-level (French) class, you have to go over all of this," said Lyons-Fuchs. "These are things that I found that students tend to forget. They know it at the time and then six months later it's gone, especially verb conjugations like the subjunctive, all the past participles and relative pronouns.
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"They either forget them, forget what they're called or forget how to use them."
The AP French test is difficult, so practicing with this app is helpful, she said.
Lyon-Fuchs answered an ad for an app developer with Study by App, an educational application developer, in early July and was selected for the job. She used the company's template for educational topics to design the app. It took seven months to complete the project, and Lyon-Fuchs will earn 50 percent of the app's net proceeds.
"I thought it would be a summer thing I could do at home, because I get bored if I'm not doing something. I thought I could do it really quickly," said Lyon-Fuchs. "I worked day and night, night and day. It was all-consuming."
When the school year started and she returned to teaching, Lyons-Fuchs worked on the project every day after school and on weekends. It was up to her how extensive to make the app, she said.
Lyon-Fuchs is fluent in French, Italian and English and has dual citizenship in the United States and Switzerland.
Born in Wadesboro, she began traveling to Europe in her late teens and lived there for approximately 15 years. She learned to speak French while living and studying in Paris, and she perfected her French and learned Italian by immersion while living in Geneva and Lugano, Switzerland.
Switzerland has four official languages: German, French, Italian and Romansch.
Lyons-Fuchs did temporary office work for the United Nations, DuPont and cigarette companies.
"If you were bilingual and had a work permit or had two passports, you could find a job easily," said Lyon-Fuchs. "Inevitably, they would ask me to stay, and I would say, 'No, I'm off to the next.' It was fun. I wasn't interested in a big career. I just wanted to experience different things and meet different people. That really helped my language abilities."
One of the people she met early in her adventures was the man who would become her husband, Marco Fuchs.
"I met him in Gstaad, Switzerland. I was 19. He was working in the Palace Hotel and I had a winter job there," she said. She was the saleswoman at the kiosk in the hotel lobby, and they met when he, a hotel receptionist, explained the Swiss currency to her.
"Literally, I got off the plane and they put me in the kiosk and said to get to work. Evidently, I had a look on my face, because my future husband, who was across the lobby in reception, came flying over," she said.
Lyon-Fuchs became a French to English and Italian to English translator, mainly translating hotel marketing materials and literary fiction such as short stories. She also worked as an interpreter for corporations.
She earned a certificate in translation in French in 1999 and a teaching certificate in 2000 from UNC Charlotte, after moving here with her husband in 1994. She also earned a master's degree in education from Columbia College in 2009.
Lyon-Fuchs has been a French teacher for 11 years. Her first three years of full-time teaching was with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools. For the past six years, she has taught International Baccalaureate and honors French at Northwestern High School.
She is a mother of two daughters: Annafrancesca, 27, and Isabella, 23. Her daughters helped her with formatting and narration on the application, she said.
Lyon-Fuchs just started a new project - designing an application for basic French review. This project will not take nearly as long to develop because it will be solely flash cards with pictures and audio, she said.