French - anyone reached FLUENCY and HOW?

Hello', i guess we all don't believe that Duolingo will pull us through Fluency in French. Is there anybody here who started learning French from 0 and now speaks French fluently? if so, please (begging!!) explain to all of us how you reached that amazing goal a lot of us have. it will help many of guys. merci!

December 12, 2018


To achieve fluency you have to actually use the language. This means listening to French being spoken, reading French, and actually speaking the language. I think of Duolingo as giving a helping hand to make jumping into the language yourself much easier. I competed the Spanish tree a few years ago, and am far from fluent. However, I did feel like it taught me more than my four years of high school Spanish.

Watch TV shows or movies in French. I'd recommend keeping those subtitles off if you're trying to learn to understand spoken French. You can train your brain to listen or read, but given both options it's just going to do what's easier for it, which will usually leave your listening skills underdeveloped. I'd recommend starting with Téléfrançais which is on Youtube. It's a Canadian kids show made to teach kids French. You should find most of it pretty understandable even from a beginner level, at least I did. Plus, it's very strange which made it entertaining to me.

My local library has a number of audio programs I've been using while I drive. I've been using Pimsleur which is supposed to be pretty good, with the downside of being hundreds of dollars. Yet, since I checked it out of the library, it doesn't cost me anything, just like Duolingo. These programs often have you speak alongside fluent speakers to compare pronunciation, which I find useful for the "speaking the language" aspect.

Duolingo is pretty much what I use for learning reading and writing now, but eventually you'll reach the end of your skill tree, and I guarantee there will be plenty of French you still don't know, so pick up a book in French, and learn to read in French how you learned to read in English. Find a book that will challenge you with new words, but that you can still follow enough to figure out words with context clues.

This is my approach at least. Polyglot Steve Kaufman says that the best way to learn a language is whatever way you enjoy doing it, because if you don't enjoy it, you won't do it.

Of course I am no expert. I'm likely only A1 or perhaps A2 in both Spanish and French, and only really decided to try to delve deep into attempting fluency in French a couple months ago. This is merely the strategy I've adopted based on the research I've done. I hope it's been helpful.

December 12, 2018

This is exactly what I do, too. I listen to French radio/French songs; I read books from the library; I do listen to podcasts with a transcript sometimes*; I do lessons on iTalki with a French Prof who cannot speak English; I have a book of grammar exercises.

  • *I am a fan of turning on subtitles/reading a transcript. I am NOT a fan of turning on English subtitles, as I think that defeats the whole purpose. I am also a fan of balance, so I do listening and reading exercises separately also.

The short answer to the question is no, one cannot achieve fluency using Duo alone. You simply are not taught enough words.

December 12, 2018

I most certainly am not one to talk about French, for I've barely begun the course, but I'm pretty sure Duolingo itself is not the only tool to propel someone to fluency in a language. Although it's great for learning words and communicating with others, (and is fantastic at being entertaining and fun) a lot of learners who are trying to achieve fluency also use other sites, and some even take courses / lessons in both online programs and real life.

December 12, 2018

Fluency isn't a thing you ever reach in an absolute sense. There's always more to learn, even in your native language, so it's just a sliding scale.

However, if you want to go beyond what Duo offers you need to: read French news online (try for all the Euro parliament's news in French), read novels (project Gutenberg is good for this), watch movies in French, and listen to French podcasts or radio. Seek out songs in French. It's also useful to set your devices and apps language to French, for some proper immersion.

December 12, 2018

One of my former roomates became fluent in French. Her native language was english. Her mother was from UK and her father was from the former Yugoslavia, and she also spoke a bit of a slavic language at home. She was from a fairly well-to-do family and attended private schools growing up. She studied Latin for many years and, beginning in the 7th grade, French. Her parents indulged her by taking her to France and hiring a private tutor. Eventually she attended Harvard and took more French classes there. By the time I met her, in graduate school, she had been visiting France a couple of times per year for many years. She was always having phone conversations with people in French. That was back where everyone had actual phones hanging on the wall, so that conversations were hardly private. She could talk for hours to friends in France (and had the money to pay the phone bill.) I think the key was lots of practice, especially in France surrounded by French people.

Also, I know lots of people who became fluent in English. For example, my wife's native language was not English and she didn't come to the US till she was 26 years old. She has lived here for 20 years now, holds a steady job (earns very nearly as much as I do), talks to people in English on the phone, has no problem. She has a very slight foreign accent but if you met her and spoke to her I think you'd agree that she is fluent in English. Same deal: practice, watch American TV, read American magazines, and hang out with people who speak english.

So not only is it possible for people to become fluent in French, they can also become fluent in English. I think a reasonably-well educated person can begin any language as an adult and, given the right amount of intrinsic ability, time, motivation, and effort, become fluent in that language. It takes many years, however. It's not something you're going to do in just a few months, and it's definitely not something you're going to achieve solely by practicing on an internet site. And it's probably not something that's going to happen until you relocate to a place where everyone speaks your target language.

December 13, 2018

Yes, but she did not become fluent in French just (or even with) Duolingo.

December 13, 2018

Of course not. I doubt she has ever heard of duolingo. Oh, wait, you're asking about Sarah. haha. I thought you were asking about my wife. Well, duolingo didn't exist back then either.

The op just asked whether anyone became fluent in French and wanted advice about it. I don't think he's under any illusion that duolingo will make anyone fluent in any language, and in fact he states as much in the opening sentence of the original post.

December 13, 2018

Well i kinda know some french paragraphs sometimes because they are related to Spanish is my native language

December 13, 2018

I have yet to hear someone say how they went from zero to fluent as an adult without just moving to a country where the language is spoken. I have freinds who became fluent in a second language as a kid.

In my case I went from Duolingo to Anki, to build vocabulary and listening practice. I then dove into reading and watching Youtube videos, with subtitles, and finaly now speaking over Skype with a tutor. It seems like I am on a path that could lead to fluency, but that is still to be seen.

December 13, 2018

Hey! I started from level zero and am now level seven. I know enough to have a basic conversation. I'll see if you can follow!

Bonjour, Ça va?

December 15, 2018

You're doing well. But a "basic conversation" is more than a greeting or saying you are eating an apple.

December 15, 2018
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