800 day milestone

So, here I am. After 800 days. I don't really have time this week to give you guys a verbose account of my journey but I can give you guys a decent summary of where I'm at....

1) After a year of Duolingo, I was able to enrol into level 3 French at University and I'm now in level 4.

2) Currently, while I'm pretty experienced with reading and writing, my oral comprehension and ability to converse lags far behind. I feel as though this will continue until I move to a Francophone country where I'm able to consistently practice speaking and listening.

3) Grammar wise I feel as though Duo is a great way to get familiar with the basics of the language but it doesn't nearly give you enough experience with the more complicated aspects of French Grammar. (Such as relative pronouns, the breadth of clauses that trigger the subjunctive mood and the ways that the subjunctive is utilised, how to avoid the passive voice by using "on" and how to transform sentences from one to the other, as well as causative faire which I think was used for a single sentence)

4) Currently, I'm looking to get a job in a Francophone country, but I feel as though my conversational French isn't quite good enough yet. I feel as though it will quickly improve once I get there, I'm hesitating from making the plunge. I'd love to go there to study a post-graduate course or something.

After all that, I plan to keep practising, even if it's a bit easy it can only help reinforce the lessons that Duo does provide, I just wish there was some more advanced stuff!

March 30, 2016


Learning to understand spoken language is hard, and it takes a lot of practice. One good way (that's also free) to get that practice is to subscribe to several youtube vloggers in your target language (French). There are literally 1000s, and they talk about every conceivable subject. Humor, makeup, video games, creepy phenomena, news current events, fashion, politics, nature, travel, etc.

Once you find a couple (or a dozen) vloggers you like, it doesn't seem like work to watch their videos. The trick is to find videos dealing with a subject you're interested in beyond just the language.

(Some add new videos every week, some more or less often, but you can always go back and watch their older stuff).

I find this beneficial because:

1) You can pause and rewatch parts that you miss, obviously.

2) There are visual cues that help you understand.

3) Often the vlogger is facing and speaking directly into the camera, so you can see the mouth, lips, tongue, etc move, which helps you understand, and help train your brain to produce the sounds of the language better. (Sort of how babies learn to speak because mom talks to them face to face).

4) The content is natural – by native speakers for native speakers, so not watered down. You learn to understand how people really talk, slang, filler words ("umm" "uh" equivalents, etc.).

5) You can get a variety of speakers with a variety of accents to further enhance your ability to understand real people "on the fly".

6) You learn the specialized vocabulary of the subjects/hobbies that interest you, to make it easier to talk to real people about more than just basic things when that opportunity arises.

French isn't my main second language, so I don't have a huge collection of vloggers in that language, but I can recommend two to get you started:

NORMAN FAIT DES VIDÉOS – this young man speaks quickly (like all French people, lol) but clearly. He has over 7 million subscribers, so he's obviously doing something right, and is entertaining to some. He talks about amusing things, personal things. He has 100s of videos and posts new ones a few times a month.

Also, I would invite you to check out Easy Languages on youtube. They have a (short, but growing) list of Easy French videos. These videos are designed for those learning the language. The host goes out on the street in a French speaking city and interviews people, asking them a particular question. The beauty of this series is that there are subtitles in both English and French! I personally love Easy Languages, and use it a lot for German (which they specialize in), but they have videos in over a dozen languages.

Once you've subscribed to a a few French-language vloggers, youtube will begin to suggest some others for you to check out, so you will always encounter and find others that you like over time.

I can tell you that over the last three years or so I have improved my listening comprehension of Italian so much by simply listening to Italian vloggers 15 to 20 minutes each evening. Often when I listen now, I sort of forget that it's a "foreign" language, it just is people talking now.

March 30, 2016

I just worked in France, but normally they want you to have a B2 skill level at least. I hope that you'll find something, but bear in mind that they are normally searching for B2 skill level knowledge at least.

March 30, 2016

So what skill level would one have at the end of the duo tree?

March 30, 2016

A2-B1 in understanding and translating and maximum A2 in speaking. You need to substitute it with other sources.

March 30, 2016

Yeah, since I'm currently in level 4 of University, I would say that I'm easily B2 when it comes to translating, reading and writing but my speaking and listening skills are probably somewhere between the A2-B1 level range. Unfortunately university can suffer from similar problems to Duo.

Did you get your French proficiency tested before getting a job there?

March 31, 2016

I.C. well that's helpful to know since I'm aiming for a B2 level. Thanks for the reply :-)

March 31, 2016


That is a fantastic achievement. I agree with the suggestions that KevanSF made. The more exposure to the spoken language, the better. I moved to France a few years ago and joined a walking group. Great way to learn (and keep fit). All the other members are French and do not speak English - or claim not to:-)) On a walk, I'm getting a 3 to 5 hour French lesson. If the conversation ever lags, ask a question or make a comment about food. I've had 20 minute conversations about cooking haricots verts:-))

Communication is the objective. I probably make dreadful mistakes all the time and simply don't understand them on occasions but it doesn't matter. Sometimes they will correct my pronunciation in a very direct (but kind) way. If they see that I am struggling to understand, they will rephrase.

If I go to a market, which is something I do often, I actually like to be in a queue. That way I get to see and hear how people order things. They are very particular and will engage with the server on a level I never came across when I lived in London.

On the Duo scale, I'm 52% fluent so have a long way to go but I find more and more that I'm thinking in French and not constantly translating from English.

When I get to 500 days, I'm going to change my learning program and mix in a bit of Lawless French. This does not mean I'm about to embark on a life of crime. Lawless French/Kwiziq is a lot more unforgiving in testing and I probably need that discipline.

Bon courage

March 31, 2016

Congrats. All you need is a 2-week immersion program, which costs about the same as an average vacation.

March 30, 2016

I hope you can live abroad soon; that would be so cool! Perhaps you can find a meetup group near you for conversation. And you should find some books in french and read them - I've noticed the subjunctive seems to be used quite a lot in literature; I'm reading Harry Potter À L'École Des Sorciers. I have to look up some words but it's good fun.

March 30, 2016

Does that mean Harry Potter and The Philosopher's Stone?

March 31, 2016

It is book 1 of Harry Potter, but for some reason the title is not the same - this means "at the school of wizards" I think. All the other translated books in the series seem to have the same title as the English version.

March 31, 2016


March 31, 2016

good idiea

March 30, 2016


Unfortunately, I can only HOPE of reaching that far as my day streak was ruined by pure lapse of memory.

I have now promised myself to work my butt off to re-learn and get back on the day streak!

Congratulations again, and keep it up! Maybe you'll even get to 1000!

:-) Lili

March 31, 2016

Don't despair. It takes so long to learn a language, it doesn't really matter if you miss a day. Just keep going! :)

April 1, 2016

Congratulations. I would give you a lingot but you just received 80 today. It would be like giving Bill Gates a dollar.

Thanks for telling us about your journey. Good luck getting a job.

April 1, 2016

Indeed, here you go. :P

April 2, 2016

I would like to suggest to everyone to try the chat rooms on The exact link is but you well need to sign up on the site first, which takes about 2 minutes. I am finding it really helpful to improve my spoken French. If you go, you will find me in the beginner's French room. Please say hello to me if you do.

April 2, 2016
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