1.5 Months of Intense French Study--What Did I Learn? (The Answer: A Lot)

Bonjour a toutes et a tous,

At the beginning of this year, I decided to commit myself to intensive French study, and so far, it's been an adventure. I happened to meet an amazing penpal on Italki, which was really great. We can talk for 3-4 hours straight, laughing the whole time, so that was unexpected and really amazing.

From spending so much time with a French native, I learned a lot about how people actually speak the language, and a lot of phrases and expressions that you just wouldn't learn in a French classroom or a textbook.

I also learned 385 words/phrases that I kept track of using quizlet (highly recommend). I'm currently an advanced speaker, so my progress is going to be very subtle, but I still wanted some way to track it; therefore, quizlet is kind of a quantitative way to do that.

I'll try to add to this and make it a more comprehensive list, but here are a few examples:

en fait/en effet--indeed/actually


du coup--so/then

découvrir*--the way it's used in French is a bit different than English

quoi--at the end of a sentence (meaning or whatever)

quoi que se soit--whatever/anything

tu vois?--do you understand

je sais bien--I already know, not I know this very well.

profiter de qqch--to take advantage, often used in a positive sense, kind of like "go enjoy this opportunity", but not quite.

pas mal de--a decent/faire amount of something tangible/intangible

un moment--not really "a moment" like in English, but more like time, as in un bon moment=a good time.

vivre--experience (technically this word means "to live" but I notice that instead of saying "the things I've experienced", the French will often say "les chose que j’ai vécues".

*The French will say things like "we are a host family who would like to make you discover France" or your language partner will say "I feel like I am discovering French grammar with you".

I feel like there are a few more, but I can't remember them right now. My point is that these phrases are use really frequently, and I never once heard them in class.

There were also a few phrases that I had learned in my first French class many years ago from an outdated textbook like barbant (boring) and aller à une boume (to go to a party). My friend laughed at me so much and forbade me from ever saying them again.

The other thing that's really nice about speaking with the same person over a long period of time is that you begin to notice any mistakes that the other tends to repeat as well as his/her progress. This is a bit philosophical, but you also notice how learning a language this way is extremely personal and unique because everyone has his own vocabulary, so you're kind of learning the language through the lens of your partner.

There were even a few times that I pointed something out to my friend that he said he never noticed about his own language because, unlike me, he never really had to think twice about it.

I also noticed some "holes" in French, mostly that the French don't really have a word for "enjoy". In French, you can "like" something, but you can't really "enjoy" it.

I also found some great resources:

Antastesia Carologie Slate podcasts

Even as an advanced speaker (B2/C1), Duolingo helped a little bit. I learned a handful of phrases (especially from the stories), and it helped me to solidify my knowledge of when to use certain prepositions. The stories are really a great addition to Duo. My favorite is the very last story, "2042"--the style is completely different from all the others--so it's definitely worth trying to complete them all. Currently, I'm at level 25, but I'm not sure whether I want to make my tree golden. I really love that it's an assortment of rainbow colors right now. Oh, decisions, decisions...

In other news, I've been slowly reading some French literature and I'm going to move to France in a month--I'm so excited!!!

I just hope that anyone who happens to read this is encouraged to continue studying. If you want, feel free to do the same thing and challenge yourself to a month of intensive French. Trust me, you'll notice the progress and be glad that you did :)



PS: If you liked my post and want to connect with me, the link to my hellolingo mailbox is in my bio.

February 19, 2019


Wouah, great job @Rowlena-L !!

I know that it does represent hours and hours of work to reach this level in such a short time. I really enjoyed reading your post. You seem enthusiastic and you want to continue to progress, which is really cool.

Currently, I am on the Danish course and I must admit that I am actually quite addicted. The more I learn and the more I want to learn I think the vast majority of learners here share the same feeling.

It's very hard to learn a new language, knowing the words is just the beginning. You have to listen, understand, translate, write.........
A language is difficult to learn. Indeed, it can’t be done in a day, it takes work, motivation, perseverance, but also fun. it's a wonderful journey that brings us a lot.

It's so nice when after struggling with some words or way of forming the sentences, we are glad to get there and see the progress.

A huge thank to you for this positive feedback and to share your experience. it always gives a big boost to continue working hard.

I wish you to spend wonderful moments in France, we do love foreigners. Wherever you will be, I guarantee you that you will find friendly people. Then enjoy !! :)

February 19, 2019

Thank you so much for your encouragement.

Just a quick note: you can't say, "I wish you to spend wonderful moments in France". Instead, you should say "I hope that you have a wonderful time in France". In French, "un moment" translates more closely to "a time" in English.

February 20, 2019

Thank you for this clarification, it helps me to improve my english :)

February 22, 2019

Bonjour Rowlena-L

I very much enjoyed reading about your experiences learning French.

Best wishes with your move to France for a month.



February 19, 2019

Merci! Unfortunately, I was writing this post late at night. I'm not moving to France for a month, I'm moving in a month :)

February 19, 2019

I'm now in a relationship with a french girl, while I'm still in Ireland, I'm quietly trying to start learning french, both because I'm interested and hoping to move to France, and because I want to surprise her with it with a basic conversation (at the very least)!

So I'm hoping to soon learn some good few phrases if not more, after I tackle the basics, having set my daily goal to the max available, so wish me luck! (And good luck to you too! hope everything foes well and smoothly on your transition there!)

February 19, 2019

Félicitations! merci d'inspirer.

February 19, 2019

Hello Rowlena.

I'm sure your post will greatly help other French learners.

What do you mean by "there is no word in French for enjoy". What about "apprécier" ? But you are right, very often French speakers will simply use the verb "aimer" to say they enjoyed something :) You won't see many people say "j'ai apprécié ce repas/ce film". They will usually say "j'ai bien aimé" / "ça m'a beaucoup plu (plaire)"

I wish you the best in France. I hope everyone will be very welcoming.

Bonne continuation avec la langue française !

February 19, 2019

Il y a aussi le genre de situation ou quelqu'un part en vacances et tu lui dis juste "profites-en" pour moi c'est la traduction la plus adéquate dans le language courant.

February 19, 2019

Well, apprécier is not really the same thing because that translates to "appreciate" in English--there's a subtle distinction.

You can definitely tell that sometimes French people struggle to get around this in English. For example, my friend had said to me once, "I went to see a film yesterday; it was nice to watch". While this isn't technically grammatically incorrect, it's a rather awkward sentence.

Thanks for the encouragement :)

February 20, 2019

There is not a direct matching word in French for 'to enjoy.' Comparatively, in Spanish, it's 'disfrutar', and in Italian, it's 'godere', albeit almost never used and instead piacere (to like) [something] is used.

February 21, 2019

Two expressions that I picked up quickly from real, live people and not I textbook were "Pas de soucis" and "c'est pas grave", both very useful!

February 19, 2019

Thanks so much for your insights. Bon chance en France !

February 20, 2019

You shouldn't watch antastesia x'D

February 20, 2019

Why not? I think maybe she's a little extreme with the whole veganism thing, but other than that, she seems alright. Mostly, I just like that discusses literature.

February 20, 2019

Thank you for the great post! I echo your sentiment about Quizlet. That is a great app and a great way to use those little moments in your day to be productive (learning French) instead of just getting lost on the internet.

I am glad to hear all of the doors that have been opened for you through learning French.

Good luck.

February 20, 2019

Merci Beaucoup!

February 21, 2019

Félicitations! Bring some good shoes for the walking you will do. Thank you very much for the resources; I was looking for something to advance my French.

February 21, 2019

Good Job

February 21, 2019

it is excellent

February 21, 2019

In 1.5 months you are an advanced soeaker lol I have been doing French at my school for 4 years now and its absolute useless. Everything I know how to say I learmt on my own.

February 22, 2019

Please don't be discouraged. I am able to speak French as well as I do due to many years of language classes. In this timeframe, I just had an intense period of French study and felt like I improved a lot so I wanted to post my progress---That's all. Bon courage !

February 22, 2019

Thanks for sharing your journey. Inspiring and informative. I wish you all the best with your move and I look forward to hearing how you get one. Best wishes!

February 23, 2019
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