Do you speak French?

If you have learned French since moving here how did you do it? How long did it take? Did you have lessons? If so how much are they? My town Amboise makes no concessions for Englsh immigrants. No free stuff. Am still stuck on Duolingo. Not sure how helpful it is. Also tried OU Bon Depart, Michel Thomas and Comme une Francaise. Listen to French radio every day. Still stammering my way through aftter 4 years. Ashamed of myself. Embarrased.

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Learned it at school, over 70 years ago, used it intermittently until the 90s when I came to live and work here and had no problem communicating, essential for my work, alone at the end of a phone, for further intructions.

But, in the 20 years since retirement my comprehension has got worse, probably due in part to hearing problems, but my speech only slightly so due to age related word forgetfulness. But I have the same problem with English too.

We each have a different ability for learning languages, so don’t feel embarrassed.

The best for learning French is to make French friends and participate fully in French life. Go to French cinema, shows, and events. Volunteer with a french group, or join for example a local walking group. Learning by yourself will only get you so far, as you need to talk and listen to other people.

Personally I feel duolingo is not helpful for anything but basic vocabulary and grammar as you don’t seem to get real conversation in it (I got bored with it very quickly so maybe that comes later).

I also studied for DELF/DALF diplomas many years ago as a structured approach leading to a formal exam is the way I personally learn. But that’s not for everyone.


Thank you Jane.

The most important advice. Despite my hearing and forgetfulness problems, since I started to frequent the local bar in the mornings with many of the same blokes (and a few ladies) almost every day, I have found that my comprehension has started to improve. This after only 2 months and not every day.


Hello Pamela.

Do not despair and absolutely no need to feel embarrassed! The useful thing is that being in France, there will be a few folk around who will help you along once you get rolling. No one will look down on your trying, it shows courage and honour.

Now for some support, I learned as a child so cannot say I have used any French teaching platforms here but I do advise the children of French friends to try an online live one-on-one conversation tutor, such as

The next thing is to allocate at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour every day to speaking in French.

If you are weak on French grammar, study those rules. Really helps!

French TV and radio are good. If those are a bit too fast speaking for you, there is a free app with broadcasts in ‘slow’ French that will provide you with some topical news to share in the boulangerie or bar

Bon Courage!


Thank you Susannah. Slow French is not free though.

Oh! I’m sorry. I joined through Apple Apps several years ago and it was free. Still functions despite my never having paid :smirk:, even after moving into a new phone. I like the slow speaking.

$20 per month!

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Wow great post (was going to post same myself but the search pulled up this post). As usual some fantastically helpful replies from the regulars :grinning:.

Honestly I’m not sure I have the capability to learn French at my age, 55, having had property here for 10 years both myself and the wife should have done better, we too are embarrassed. Don’t get me wrong we try damn hard, you don’t have property here for 10 years without trying, Google translate is fantastic and if anything it does prove you’re willing to try and happy to make a fool of yourself, I’ve had many laughs in Brico Depot, Super U, builders merchants etc over the years. But in my experience if you try the locals are happy.

We’re starting plans to move full time in approx. a years’ time and once there we intend to step up a gear and joining local groups etc hoping this is the answer. I was Google’ing French lesson via Teams or Zoom £15-£25 an hour, I may try but honestly I think we need to be living in the country first.

I’ve been spoiled working for an international company in oil & gas over the years because in this field in France for example everyone speaks the default language of English.

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I found this weekday news bulletin (from Radio France International) accessed via a podcast very helpful. The newsreaders are fully aware they’re broadcasting to non-native French speakers, speak slowly and clearly, and explain in advance the meaning of new, technical words eg the French for ‘indictment,’ ‘mutiny’ to name two recent topical words! Free of course! Plus you can replay bits that you don’t fully understand the first time…


Another vote for Jeff! I’ve been using it for years. When I started, it would take me perhaps an hour to muddle through the 10 minutes.

I can understand a lot more than I can speak, and i have a fairly large vocabulary. It would be rare that I could not follow a television programme, for example, but my self-confidence and, to be honest, my speaking skills are nowhere near as good. I am aware, though, that I naturally prefer to to listen and ask questions rather than to speak.

You might find Steve Kaufmann’s videos (Steve Kaufmann - lingosteve - YouTube) helpful. He also created and refers to his own system, LingQ. I tried that, but i didn’t find enough stimulating material. His approach is very definitely listening- and reading-based. It may work for you. My point is that, if you’re naturally a reader/listener then you may find carefully watching videos on Youtube builds your confidence. Use the subtitles, obviously (you will get a buzz when you notice auto-generated subtitles are wrong!), and watch them repeatedly, which is really the essence of Yabla and Illini (ILLINI),

Getting a conversation partner may help. I have two: one with whom I speak raelatively little French (he’s quite hard of hearing, and loves to speak english) and one who insists we split our time equally, and who has become a good friend over the years. i found them through Conversation Exchange ( though note if you’re a woman you will get hit on and will have to make it clear you’re not looking for a relationship (well, unless you are … :wink: ).

And @Grumpy_OldMan, saying you’re too old to learn is tosh! You just have to find the approach that works for you. Being in France will help, but won’t it be great when you have a head start because you’ve done a load beforehand.

Another thing I’ve learned is the French person who answers you in English may not - indeed, probably doesn’t - have the level of English you think: it’s just that they’ve only ever had to learn a small number of words and therefore perfecting the pronunciation of those was not difficult. Persevere with answering in french, after a brief compliment in French on their accent, explaining that you must practice your French.

Finally, work out how best you learn. Do you enjoy using videos/ Audio? Books? Software like DuoLingo/Rocket/Lawless/Kwizziq? Michel Thomas (I really like the way he includes analysis of the links between English and the target language, for example).

And don’t give up! That’s probably the most important thing: half an hour (at least) a day. Become obsessive! Find an author you enjoy (I love Simenon, but also the Petit Nicolas series) and get a good dictionary.

Also, set a realistic timescale, so you don’t beat yourself up when you feel like you’re not making progress. Think of the average 10-year-old. What’s her vocabulary like? How good is her grammar and comprehension? Remember, she’s someone who - at least in France - will have had people correcting her grammar and pronunciation for almost 10 years (people like @vero!). That’s a massive blessing.

Sorry, that was too long!


I am reminded of moving on from duolingo which I recall has some good resource links?


Of course you have! It will just be a bit slower.


I can’t think that going to the cinema to listen to French would be anything other than bewildering for all but the most competent French speakers. I have a degree in French and have been speaking it for over 60 years but I couldn’t have watched Spirals or Paris 1905 without subtitles. The slow news, though, sounds like an excellent idea, as does trying to find a French person who wants to learn English, half and half. Try not to despair, learning a language is an immense task, as I am finding trying to learn German, the first non-Romance language I have tried to learn. Keep going. Keep a little vocabulary book for new words and expressions. Five minutes of learning ten times a day is better than one 50 minute session, I’m my opinion.


thank you plod that is encouraging I will keep plodding

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Our commune has a French/English conversation group which meets every Tuesday in Riberac… It’s part of the troisième âge group and many communes run these groups. It has helped me enormously over several years. You have a real opportunity to converse in French amongst French people practising their English. This takes away a lot of the embarrassment which is the biggest obstacle in speaking day to day French. Ask at your Marie!

Persevere! German is a great and wonderful language :smiley:


I see what you did there!

It is a fascinating language but hard work!