Newsflash: I just spoke to a Real Frenchman

He’s called Francois and he didn’t laugh at me!

In the pursuit of becoming fluent in French, I’ve signed up to the Rosetta Stone course and I have to say that I am very impressed so far.  As part of the course, they offer what they call Studio Sessions, which is done via the internet with a native French speaker.  You have conversations with the facilitator and fellow students related to the material studied, so everyone is at the same level.  So today’s news is, I just participated in one of these sessions, and it was brilliant.

I was quite nervous at first.  You are advised to log on to the session about ten minutes before it starts, but I suddenly felt it was essential to make a quick cup of coffee first, to aid the learning process of course, nothing to do with nerves, so I logged on with about six minutes to spare.  There I was, having set up my headphones and got to grips with where I was supposed to be, first draught of caffeine beginning to hit, and then I waited.  There is a countdown timer in the top corner of the screen, counting down to the start of the session, which was very useful because I was mentally prepared when the session facilitator popped up on the screen with a cheery “Bonjour, Polly”.  Good to know how real French people pronounce Polly, at least I will know what to listen out for when we next hop over the Channel.  Also, yay!  I know what Bonjour Polly means, so this was an instant confidence booster!

So there were three of us on the session, plus the facilitator, and the conversation was at a very basic level, not at all scary.  As far as I could make out from the webcam picture, no chalk-board erasers were thrown.  The whole session was conducted in French, which is great because I discovered that I can understand way more than I thought, or I can at least get the gist.  Very basic jokes were made that we could all understand, which was a bit of a revelation.  It was a very confidence-boosting session and I learned a great deal from it.  For example, I’ve come to realise that it’s all fine when repeating something I’ve just been taught (even if the words aren’t on the screen to prompt me), but when I have to dredge it up from the corners of my mind and pronounce it so that a native speaker can at least vaguely understand me, it’s quite something else.

I loved it, and found it invaluable and a great motivation booster.  In fact I’ve already booked two further sessions for the next couple of weeks.

This is not a sponsored post, I really do like Rosetta Stone.

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16 Responses to Newsflash: I just spoke to a Real Frenchman

  1. Zazzy says:

    Wow! Actually talking to people in French is probably the most important part. I didn’t know Rosetta Stone did that. You sound like you are making excellent progress. Yay! When does your tutoring start?

    • Zazzy, I had one lesson already with a different teacher nearer to home, one that I found after I’d booked all those other lessons for when the little chap does his summer school (early August). That one hour was so productive, and I now have lots to work on and learn. I’ve decided not to do Adult Ed but book a one to one lesson every three to four weeks instead, at equivalent cost. That will start in October, I think. Hope to have made lots of progress by Christmas.

  2. Well done you! Sounded like such a confidence booster. Very impressed that you could understand the humour. X

    • It was a very basic joke, OM! We were doing work along the lines of “do you have a cat?” “do you have a dog?” kind of questions, when a lady said she didn’t have cats because she had fish and a cat would eat them. So basic, but also so totally off plan that it was funny. I’m so easily amused these days!

  3. Lisa says:

    en Français s’il vous plaît!


    well done you. xx

  4. Claire@Mummy Plum says:

    I didn’t know you could do something like this either. It sounds great. I’m so glad it went well and you understood it. (Had to smile at your comment ” I suddenly felt it was essential to make a quick cup of coffee first”. I’m sure I’d have done exactly the same thing!)

  5. cool, and good for you!
    The problem with that product is that it is way more expensive than it should be, plus they do not allow libraries to have more than 1 item per language!! So I boycott.
    There are other great possibilities for free to speak with French natives online. I know sites where you “meet” with French people who want to learn English, for instance: for 30 mn you both speak English, and you help the other person with mistakes, etc, and for 30 mn you both speak French, and they help you. it’s free to register, you just need skype.
    if you are interested I will give you the websites for that

    • Emma I would be very interested in that website, thanks! Please do ping it over. I’m coming to the conclusion that the Rosetta Courses are way more expensive in the US (where I think you are) than they are here in the UK. I bought all five levels for only £40 more than a year’s evening class in one level would be, so I consider it to be very good value, I am really enjoying it and I’m learning loads. My vocabulary has expanded hugely and my confidence in speaking is improving too. But you can never have to much practice, so I would be very interested in that website you mentioned. Thanks again, and thanks for taking the time to comment.

  6. Hi Polly. Good for you. I find my French is much better after a couple of glasses of wine – never mind the coffee! I have re-subscribed to your blog as this didn’t come through, so hope to be more in touch than my remiss goes this last year. It’s great to see you sticking at something you love when all this motherhood malarchy can be such an awful distraction!

    • Funny that, Anya – I also find a couple of glasses of vino helps loosen the tongue a bit! Can’t wait for the little man to start school as I will have so much more time to devote to French then. And he’s so ready for it now, so good for both of us.

  7. What a brilliant way to learn. You can’t beat practising your conversation skills with a native speaker – you get the proper accent, intonation, gestures, everything.

    • Thanks for commenting FFHM – you are so right, in fact I read something in the paper a while ago about the best way to learn an accent, and surprise, it was to copy a native speaker. Apparently there’s a specific text you get them to say. Great fun!

      • It’s so true. I spent a lot of Summers in Italy when I was a child. Despite having never officially studied the languge, my Italian is still better than my French which I have a degree in. Real-life practise is unbeatable. Unfortunately, my ability to pick up languages has well and truly diminished. Three years of German lessons and my attempts are still pathetic.

        • Sounds like you have a real talent for languages! I’m aiming for fluency, and a degree along the way would be very motivating. I was never very good at German either :-(