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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi,

I am from Northern Ireland, currently living in England. My boyfriend's parents moved to France when he was a toddler and are still living there while he moved back to the UK to do a degree. So he is a dual french and UK citizen.

I am considering moving to France at some point in the next few years. I currently dont speak french but have just signed up to an online interactive language course that runs for 12 months, and when my boyfriend returns from his trip to France he will be helping me as he is fluent in english and french.

So I am wondering on average how long does it take to pick up french? I am guessing there wont be a set answer to this as different people learn at different rates but thought I would ask anyway.

Thanks!
 

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It really depends on how "intensive" you course is, how intensively you follow it, and (probably most critical of all) how much chance you get to use what you're learning in real situations.

When I first got to France, I was more or less mute. OK, I'd studied in school for several years, and then done nothing with it for more than 20 years. It wasn't until I had reason to be out and around most days and to HAVE to use the language that I started to feel a bit more confident.

But I've also seen folks arrive here in France, start lessons and start really throwing themselves into local activities (French conversation groups with the AVF, for example) and by the end of a year, they were able to carry a reasonable conversation.

Basically, the more you push yourself to actually use the language, the faster you'll pick it up. Nice excuse to make a few trips over to France with your boyfriend while you're learning the language!
Cheers,
Bev
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
It really depends on how "intensive" you course is, how intensively you follow it, and (probably most critical of all) how much chance you get to use what you're learning in real situations.

When I first got to France, I was more or less mute. OK, I'd studied in school for several years, and then done nothing with it for more than 20 years. It wasn't until I had reason to be out and around most days and to HAVE to use the language that I started to feel a bit more confident.

But I've also seen folks arrive here in France, start lessons and start really throwing themselves into local activities (French conversation groups with the AVF, for example) and by the end of a year, they were able to carry a reasonable conversation.

Basically, the more you push yourself to actually use the language, the faster you'll pick it up. Nice excuse to make a few trips over to France with your boyfriend while you're learning the language!
Cheers,
Bev
My boyfriend is moving in with me next month so there will be lots of time to practice my french. I am also going to visit his parents house in June, I think the trip will make my mind up about whether I want to move or not as it will be my first trip to France.
 

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As already noted it is completely subjective but I think you'll be surprised about how much easier it is to learn when you use it everyday.

I began learning French in high school, I studied for three years which didn't really sink in, then I went on exchange to France for 2 months which helped a lot. Just after I came back I met my now-French husband. After about a year of constant communication with him I was pretty much fluent. Another two years with him and I have advanced even more; I speak just like him, strangers can't tell I'm not French. Basically the years I spent in a classroom helped to get the rules and foundations, but the most beneficial practice came from real-world conversation.

When my husband came to Australia his English was terrible, he had gotten 4/20 for his BAC final exam ! He could barely say anything at fist, but a year later he was quite competent, and now it's been almost two years and he speaks pretty much fluently except that he has an accent :) Everyone learns at a different speed.

One tip that always worked for me: always keep a little notebook to jot down anything important that you learn, it helps immensely !
 

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wow, I don't know how this questions can be answered, for all the reasons of subjectivity that everyone answered above... But, I can tell you my experience, which may (or may not) be helpful: I knew almost zero French when I moved here 15 months ago... One month before moving, I bought Rosetta Stone levels 1-3, and studied that religiously as much as I could. The first couple months here, I also took individual lessons, face-to-face, 15 hours a week, for a combined six weeks (a few days here, a few days there) over a 2-3 month period. At this point, I didn't feel like I was progressing that much, but of course I was. Later, I began taking 15-hour-a-week courses at the local university, which I've continued up until now (2 semesters total, as I'm nearing the end of the 2nd semester). Although it didn't feel like I was progressing throughout most of this, I'm now a B2 level French speaker (and actually my writing is better than my speaking). That is to say, I'm comfortable with my level of French for day-to-day activities, and I can understand most people as long as they don't talk too fast or use vocabulary that's too specialized. I can read newspapers slowly, looking up a word maybe once every 3 paragraphs or so (depending on the paper). So, that's what is possible, or at least was for me, in a year and a half. That said, I'm living 24h sur 24 in France, which is itself a classroom everyday, and I was/am basically a full-time student for the better part of a year. My wife speaks French, too, but she's probably not as fluent as your significant other.

They say that, beginning to study a foreign language at my age (30), you'll never be as fluent in your second language as you are in your first. That was something that was depressing for me to hear at first... but it's also liberating in the sense that you have to adjust your goal in learning a second language, from perfection to... something less than perfection. You have to allow yourself to make mistakes, and accept that you always will... (which is a good life philosophy as well, if you think about it...)

So, just one man's experience but... I hope it helps!!
 

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Everyone's experience is going to be different, so I'll go ahead and share mine.

I studied Latin in high school and German in college, so I had some foreign language exposure - but it's been 20 years since I last studied a language. Before moving to France, I didn't have much time to devote to trying to learn French on my own. I did listen to some CDs in the car which gave me false confidence. When we arrived, no one could understand anything I was saying (and likewise - I couldn't understand anything they were either!)

I started out with 3 hours/week of private instruction. After three months of that, I had a month off, and then did 2 weeks of 3 hours/day group instruction. Returned to 3 hours/week for a few months and then switched to 1.5 private and 1.5 group/class. I got different things out of each situation. The private was best for getting in lots of practice speaking. The group/class helped my grammar and my oral comprehension (as there were multiple speakers to listen to) I subscribed to a French magazine (and force myself to read it), and occassionally watch French TV shows. I will admit that I could have done/could be doing much, much more to learn French. After 2 years of 3 hours/week (minus school vacation periods) I am in a B2 class (although I have so many spelling faults in my writing that I'd probably never pass the B2 DELF exam). Learning French at this age has been much harder than learning languages earlier in my life, but I think having studied a language earlier has made a difference. My husband never studied a foreign language before and he has seriously struggled to learn French.
 
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