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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello. I'm new to the forum, so I thought I would ask a simple question. I am not fluent in French, although I have been gradually studying the language for several years. My only visit to the country was a few years back, and I got along pretty well. My wife speaks no French at all. I am going to retire in 5 years or so. My question is: should we move to France (or spend extended periods), or will it be hell for my gregarious but seriously monolingual wife?
 

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You will get a lot of feedback on this, but given your particulars here is my take. Start by spending a month or more at a time. Try somewhere like Menton or along the coast to Villefranche where there are lots of expats and activities. Go off season so you will meet people who are there full time, and it is much cheaper for a vacation rental. Then she may find herself slowly having an ear for the language while making friends and discovering the lifestyle. Most large events are in Nice and Monaco but you only need to be near, not in, those cities. Also most groups are a mix of French and English so she will be in the midst of everything that is happening without feeling isolated. Try!
 

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Perhaps you should first say WHY rather than why not?

You wonder about how your wife would settle down but you don't say what she thinks of your project? Has she ever been to France?

Moving from the US to Europe is a huge step to take, so perhaps before you commit yourselves you should spend some time in France together to see whether it is something that you both want.
 

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From personal experience, I'd have to say that you will never get "fluent" in French unless you live here and have to use the language day in and day out for dealing with everyday experiences. And even then, it will take some time before you'll feel confident with the language (or, alternatively, until you'll simply adopt a "wtf" attitude and go for basic communication rather than "fluency").

It's not a bad idea to start making some extended visits/vacations here to try out the life style and push yourselves a bit on the language front.
Cheers,
Bev
 

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If your wife is keen on the project, it would be a good idea for her to start taking lessons (and to persevere, of course).
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks All. Yes, we spent a few weeks in France a few years ago. Started in Loire, then Provence, then Paris. We both loved it. Suggestions about "where" are most welcome.
 

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'you can take the boy out of Sarf London, but you can't take Sarf London outta the boy'
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There is no denying it would be tough, although it might depend a little on where you choose to live.

My (seriously monolingual) wife and i have been here for a couple of years and i know deep down she really struggles. That is despite taking courses in the UK before we arrived and continuing with one to one lessons for the last nine months.

I am not one to generally try to discourage any hopes and ambitions, but it is certainly something for both of you to seriously consider.

If she is willing to give it a go she just needs to try as soon as she can.
 

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From personal experience, I'd have to say that you will never get "fluent" in French unless you live here and have to use the language day in and day out for dealing with everyday experiences. And even then, it will take some time before you'll feel confident with the language (or, alternatively, until you'll simply adopt a "wtf" attitude and go for basic communication rather than "fluency"). It's not a bad idea to start making some extended visits/vacations here to try out the life style and push yourselves a bit on the language front. Cheers, Bev
Thats me Bev. WTF. It works. This evening the Maire, committee and fifty friends of all nationalities arrived in our park by the river at 18.30. Beautiful evening. The reason , to officially accept a huge hardwood picnic bench. Made by our local artisan de bois. Paid for from donations from people of the village to commemorate the memory of my Wife. A plaque was affixed and carved by the local guy that makes stringed instruments. The Commite de Fete provided drinks for everyone. The Maire, our next door neighbour , made a great, well researched speech. The Maires speech was translated into English for those few " Honkys" present. I made a speech of thanks in "Franglaise"(WTF) everyone applauded my efforts. No one took the p.ss and no one expected perfect French. The drinks arrived and everyone was happy under the trees by the river.

For me it signalled the time " to move on", and with friends such as these in a Commune of ninety eight people, is it little wonder that I speak so well of the French and my concern of ending up elsewhere in life.

My advice to those arriving in France without the slightest knowledge of French, like me. Just join in, go to

your local bar, Resto. Etc etc and be prepared to occasionally make a fool,of yourself. Join in with every village function, smile and just try. Forget English clubs, groups and well meaning Expats. Just put " something" in and you will be well rewarded in due course.

WTF. Fletch.


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