https://www.duolingo.com/dranke2445

Any older learners out there? Trying to learn French.

Bonjour everyone! I am an older learner, age 67, trying to learn French via apps & self study. I've been trying since I went to Paris in 2013, off and on. I've been using Duolingo & Memrise since about October 2018. Prior to that, I did an online class and used some CDs that I purchased. For me, its been tres difficile (very difficult) and I am seriously considering an immersion program in Quebec City. I feel like I know a lot of words but as far as speaking French, I know a few phrases but no way shape or form am I even close to being able to speak the language. Just wondering if there are any other seniors out there trying to learn a new language and if so, please share your experiences. Merci beaucoup!

May 5, 2019

42 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/gervanb

I'm 74 and feel as though I've been attempting to learn french and getting nowhere for quite a long time. I know a lot of words, can say simple sentences but seldom understand fluent french speakers, usually because they speak too quickly for what I know. I keep going mainly because I think it will keep alzheimer's at bay. I certainly have more respect for those people out there learning english.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Daniel1482982

Here's some motivation for you and dranke2445, I hope: I'm 83 and I've been plugging away at this for the same reason you gave. Also, as my wife says, it keeps me off the street corner.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/gervanb

I like your reply...keep going! And, of course your wife is probably right...

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/leonidBr__

Dranke2445, Bonjour!

Wow! And I am an old man but have been afraid to say it. I start to learn French a few months ago.

There is my story in short. My native language is Russian and I know Hebrew and English. I learned English with Duolingo for 5 years. Almost every day I make 50-150 XP and more. I have been living in Canada's French-speaking region for over a year, where most people speak both the English and French, so I started learning French and working as a volunteer at the hospital to improve English. I’m pretty sure of the program because French is a second language with Duolingo. In general, this is the third non-native language, not disappointed Latin, and more ... I have begun to study it when I was in 54 years old - Hebrew and so add...

I know that I have not answered many questions about learning languages in old age, but if they ask me questions, I will answer. And in my specialty, too, because I am a doctor - geriatric (for the elderly). This applies to hobbies, memory, psychology, intelligence, etc.

I only emphasize that in old age you can learn another language. This is a great passion that prolongs active life, it makes every day well being, emotional stability

I wish every one of this post well health and good luck.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Darius568602

As an older man and a psychologist I have to agree with you. Keep on learning new things, not just language, but also f.i. learning to play an instrument, dancing, etc. I keep adding new skills to my repertoire. I enjoy doing it and it also brings you into contact with new people. My grandmother learned to make silver jewellery when she was seventy. When her eyes were no longer good enough to do that, she switched to Norse folk-painting. I still have jewellery and painted boxes of her on display in my house.

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Judit294350

I am a little younger and agree it is harder as you get older - but not impossible. I attend a Hungarian immersion course every year. Last year, for the first time, they had a special class for older learners (youngest was mid-50s oldest in his 80s). We still learnt heaps but it was good to be able to go just that smidgeon slower than a class full of teenage language students. Over 4 weeks the equivalent class was actually less than 25% ahead but t was still less stressful.

Good luck.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Roteme2

Big respect to you, Diana. I honestly admire your motivation! Please accept a lingo :)

I've done some quick Google search and saw this one. It might interest you https://www.studytravel.com/language-courses-seniors.htm

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/RaphalLefo1

Bonjour Diana et bravo! Je suis moi-même un grand père français de 62 ans et j'essaie d'apprendre le coréen. J'ai déjà un bon niveau (fluent) dans plusieurs langues. Je crois qu'il n'y pas alternative à l'usage actif de la langue (active speaking). A défaut (if not), les films et les vidéos avec sous-titrages peuvent vraiment aider. Voici quelques trucs (tips):

  • regarde tes films préférés en anglais avec les sous-titres français en diminuant progressivement le son,
  • ensuite, passe entièrement en français, langue et sous-titre, puis supprime le sous-titres,
  • après, répète ce que disent les acteurs en imitant leurs attitudes (mirroring). Avec mon fils de 12 ans, nous nous amusons à apprendre à parler anglais avec l'accent mafioso en imitant Al Pacino dans Scarface (big fun...).

Bien amicalement à toi...

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Ncl3RirI

Bonjour, dranke2445, J'ai 78 ans et j' essais d'apprendre le francais comme vous etres. Je suis alle a l'Universite Ste Anne a Nouveau Ecosse l'ete dernier pour une semaine d'immersion. C'etait super.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/dranke2445

Merci beaucoup!

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Teacher0207

Uhm, i just 24 years old. Is it enough,dranke2445

May 10, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/MikeNolan6

I'm nearly 70 but I haven't been to France yet. I'm more likely to get to Quebec, even that's a long trip from where I live. The Road Scholar folks have some immersion programs specifically designed for those over 50 where you live in an apartment in France for 6 weeks while taking classes and going on field trips.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/dranke2445

Yes I have checked into Road Scholar but they are tres cher! The one I am looking at is a lot less $$$.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Van-French

I'm a bit younger by a decade but you sound like me! I'm learning french as well. I feel accomplished that I' getting the grammar down- a good starting point right? But as for listening and speaking in real time, that's going to be a whole other ball game. I think I really need immersion to start listening and using in real time. I've thought about immersion in Quebec City as well. Best of luck to you!

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ellwooa1

Hi Dranke, I am aged 67 and I am struggling to learn Spanish, I have been trying to teach myself since 2010, like many other people have already stated I know approximately 2500 Spanish words and I am able to speak in simple sentences as far as having a conversation with a Spanish speakers that is another matter my mind goes blank and I tend to panic and do my uppermost to avoid conversations. I live alone in Bolivia as my Bolivian wife become tired of my lack of progress in the Spanish language and refused to speak to me in her limited English. I have just started to pay for three lessons per week with different teachers, they normally teach English to Spanish speakers, even then I am being told all the time we do not use that word in Bolivia oh so many words. For reasons I will not go into I was never privileged to learn another language at school. I wish all you older scholars every success

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/leonidBr__

Allwooa1, hello!

I want to suggest that your work will soon allow you to speak Spanish well. Just keep on learning. Now talk only with those who want to listen to you. Be sure to calm down and enjoy your achievement. It is quite true that you speak only in simple words. I myself am an old man, but I do not pay attention to my age.

Up to 54 years old, I only knew Russian and thought that I could not learn another language because I have no memory. But it turned out that I was just wrong. I came to Israel and learned Hebrew, even went to university and got a diploma. Then, recently, 5 years ago, I started learning English and now, about a year ago, I came to Canada, a district of Quebec, and I can speak English, and I also began to learn French. And my wife had already stopped telling me that I still would not learn anything like her. She simply does not have the patience to learn either Hebrew or English, although she is ten years younger. But I advise her to speak in Russian and not to worry, and she does, and then I say.

A person has a lot of reserves in his body, and although with age there are less of them, it is worth trying. For example, after three years I could not say a few words in English without difficulty, and after five years I speak quite well, I work as a volunteer for six months in a hospital where English and French are spoken.

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/robin.fli

I recommend listing to the podcasts for Spanish for listening. If you use Duo on the iOS app, you can do 3 min exercises with native Spanish speakers. It focuses on the lessons and pronouciation, but it is useful for real interaction & the people are nice.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/dranke2445

Merci beaucoup everyone for the responses. I'm glad to see I'm not the only older learner here on Duolingo. I will keep plugging away here & on Memrise. The immersion program in Quebec City uses standard French not Quebecois French and its considerably cheaper than going to France to study so that's my why Quebec. Still haven't decided if I'll do it or not but c'est possible. Bonne journée.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/robin.fli

I've used Duolingo to refresh my French and it helped me navigate around Quebec as all the signs are in French. I'm in my mid 50's and have added on other languages. Reading and listening are easier. Listening to podcasts from Quebec will help with the listening. Depending where you are, I would see if there's a French conversation group to join in your area. Sadly all the ones I could find in my area were during the weekend when I don't have the time to go. I have also searched on line, but haven't tried yet for interactive voice chats. There seems to be ones out there but I never seem to have the time to try them.

While you search, try talking out loud while working on the lessons, use a voice recorder app to hear yourself. Working on the stories will give you more vocabulary.

May 5, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/hjh414399

I am an older learner and some days it feels as if I am older than dirt! Oh those irregular verbs! The upside is that I enjoy studying and start almost everyday with an hour or more of Spanish. Will I ever be fluent? Who knows? Does it really matter? No, because I enjoy what I am doing, am learning, and also can more completely empathize with those trying to learn English (my native language).Studying anything at any age makes a person vulnerable to success, to failure, to joy and to despair--a complete life experience. To the "nay sayers" I say open your eyes, your heart and cleanse your mind of negative attitudes. You'll live longer which is a good thing as there are few rocking chairs on porches these days!

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Suzanne343318

I am 80 and I guess I’m not the oldest student using Duolingo. I wonder who is the oldest. I think that, like doing a crossword it gives my brain a workout.

May 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/compsognathus

Hi dranke, I think it's wonderful that you have this long time interest! Keep doing what you love. Maybe immersing yourself in reading and television might help pick up the language? I find that this usually helps me a bit :)

I have great respect and admiration for you and all of the other commenters here. I hate to see that some people are such downers. You can do anything you want at any age. There's no sense in not doing something because you think you are too old. Making the most of every year of your life is the key to happiness.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ArnoldCohe1

I am 69 and use Quino for grammar and vocabulary but mostly use Duolingo. Try watching French TV with subtitles. Excellent choices on MHz network. Some actors are completely understandable, others not but it helps get your ear in tune and helps with pronunciation. Just keep at it-even if progress is slow, learning a language is one of the best brain exercises, is cheap and harmless recreation and sounds good when you say "I'm working on my French"!!!

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/BuddyIrwin

Bonjour dranke2445 ! I too am about your age and I started learning French three years ago in August. I use Babbel, Duolingo, and French Today with Camille Chevalier-Karfis which I really like because her download books help you listen to and speak real street French. I like most of us lack the opportunity to speak with others that are Francophone's. Fortunately for me there is an Alliance Francaise organization where I live. I am getting ready to join that group so I can interact with real French speakers without having to pay for a tutor on my limited income. Also check Meetup and see if there are any local French speakers that meet from time to time. There is one in my town and I'm getting ready to start going to their gatherings they have every week at a bar. Good luck with your studies. I have been to France and wish I knew then what I know now. My main motivation today is I finally have a grandchild in my life and I want him to be somewhat bilingual parce que mon arbre généalogique est français. I hope I live long enough to see that happen. Santé et bonne journée à toi mon ami.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JennyRusse1

I’m 71 and I believe older people can learn anything they want. It is hard to learn another language whether you are young or old, and success is down to natural ability, determination and hard work, not age. Since retiring I’ve learned French to a competent level. I’ve attended regular weekly conversation classes, studied intermediate French at the Open University and done two immersion courses in France, including one where I stayed with a non English speaking family for a week. The younger people on those courses were not learning faster than I was, mainly because I could work harder, being free of other distractions like earning a living and caring for children. I also had the advantage of a better understanding of grammar, having been drilled in English and Latin 60 years ago at school. If you want to speak French you must find a situation where you can practise speaking with other people. I don’t think it is possible to become competent in another language just from websites and self study. Unfortunately courses cost money, but that’s what it takes. Bonne chance!

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/CaroleClohesy

I am almost 60 and I have been working on Chinese 6-it takes so much repetition but it is worth it!

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ryanpengqi

big respect to you and the people at your age or older who are still working hard to improve the language skill.

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Harry111162

Good luck Dranke,

We are the same age and I started from scratch learning French on Duolingo 16 months ago just before my 67th birthday. I've had two streaks - 194 days when I quit because I had just begun a month long tour of France. 30 days later I started a 208 and continuing streak. I'll have more to say after I share this link from yesterday's New York Times about the limits of online language learning from someone who just passed a 500 day streak: https://www.nytimes.com/2019/05/04/smarter-living/500-days-of-duolingo-what-you-can-and-cant-learn-from-a-language-app.html?searchResultPosition=3

I don't know if that will be an active link when I push post but if not just copy it and paste it into your browser.

The story is spot on but more dismissive of learning Duolingo than I am. I am not someone who simply redoes easy lessons to add points or win lingots or worry about owls. Everyday I try to cram new information in my head. I have put close to 2 hours a day memorizing.....as the article says....the vocabulary and the grammar. Nine months didn't come close to preparing me for speaking in France. Neither has the subsequent seven months. But I am improving. I have started listening to cartoons in French, Peppa the Pig and Zazou the Zebra. Movies are too hard to follow so far.

I've considered similar immersion programs in Quebec. I've also considered spending a month in a rural part of France where there will be fewer English speaking residents to hamper my practice.

I'm doing a lot of listening when I am on Duolingo especially with the French stories. I've done them all and started them over again. I'm catching their drift better than I did eight and nine months ago when I first read through them. There are other resources beyond Duolingo worth considering. I've reread the first chapter of Le Petit Nicolas half a dozen times. Each time more of the language comes into view. Its a book about a bunch of kids in the 1950's with illustrations. Its by Sempe and Goscinny. I also picked up a couple of French books in France one of them is Calvin and Hobbes cartoons. At no time have I ever expected to become half as fluent in French as I am in English. If my calculations are correct I've had about 396,000 waking hours to practice English. Since I turned 67 I've had perhaps 800 hours of French. By the way, the State Department says that French is one of the easier languages for serious Americans to learn. In their intensive courses it can be learned in about 560 hours. I'm obviously behind that curve. I will continue until I can carry on at least a halting conversation in a French restaurant. I don't expect to chat about American politics in France. That would take another ten years and I'll probably go on to some new project before I reach that kind of fluency. I'll leave you with some advice and the words of a polyglot who gave a sort of Ted talk on learning new languages. She has learned about a dozen languages so far and she spoke to other polyglots to see how they managed learning new languages. She says to only study one language at a time. An hour a day for two years has always managed to be enough for her to pick up a new language. That would be about 700 hours so she's quicker than I am. She also offered this helpful saying. "The best time to learn a new language is when you are five. The second best time is now." I've kept that to heart. Bonne nuit.

May 9, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/jamescoates

Hello,

It's difficult to learn a language by yourself, particularly if you don't have an opportunity to practise oral expression.

I'm currently learning Esperanto with Duolingo and I have come across a couple of things that help:

  • read the sentences Duolingo gives you out loud; try changing their meaning - get used to making the sounds
  • "shower conversations": think of what you'd like to to say to someone and try saying it; does it sound right?
  • find a local conversation group; look on the internet, or try an app like Amikumu to find local language speakers nearby; speak, make mistakes (v important), laugh
  • find your local Alliance Française and enquire about courses
  • listen to French, where you can. RFI has some really good material: https://savoirs.rfi.fr/fr/recherche/rubrique/apprendre/objectif/apprendre-et-perfectionner-le-francais-2707

Try setting yourself tasks; necessity is the key to all communication, but it's difficult if you have nobody to speak to. With my English students I sometimes suggest speaking to Google Translate and seeing if it understands you.

Also, log in to the web app from time to time and read the hints and tips. For some peculiar reason, it's not possible to access them from the app. Go figure.

Good luck. :)

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/stupefaite

Diane bonne chance!

Watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ROh_-RG3OVg I find it very motivating. One of the brillant messages you can find there is "the best time to start learning a language was when you were a kid. The second best time is TODAY."

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ArnoldCohe1

One thing to remember-when you were a kid at school most just have their school responsibilities and no other distractions. Also. think how much time you spent each day with high school French-45 min in Class, 30-90" homework, study for exams, etc. Most of us cannot spend that much undistracted time a day and don't have the classroom environment. So, I really don't think it was being younger that made it easier--it never was easier!!!

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Laura118787

As a french myself, i'm wishing you good luck ! hang in there ! ♡

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/QusaiAlHas

I am learning french too How I could connect with and practice speaking

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Marine210090

Hi Dranke! Your idea of going in immersion seems really cool and it is clearly the best way to learn the language , but coming to France would probably be more efficient, because the accent and some words they use are very different from here. I guess it depends where you live and what accent is used on your CDs but still... I mean, sometimes even we French people have a hard time understanding the Québécois! As for listening to CDs and doing exercices on apps, it helps for sure but maybe you could try reading in French a book you already read in English, and watch French series or movies... I know it helped me a lot when I learned English and Spanish. Bonne chance pour apprendre le français! ;)

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Gail262233

I use Skype to talk with a gal from Quebec we chat for an hour a week on what ever topic we decide half in french half in english. not at all teachy unless is comes up in natural conversation, like how to pronounce something or 'Oh I understand you but a more natural way would be to say this instead of that' I also found French meet up groups on a meet up app they meet weeknights and weekends for free conversation and coffee. Bon chance!!

May 6, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Harry681392

Hi, I have been interested in learning French since I immigrated to Canada over forty years ago. With a busy family and work life, it just didn’t happen. I live in Vancouver where Chinese, Punjabi, and several other languages are far more commonly spoken than French, so there was no real impetus. However, a holiday in Quebec a few years ago sparked my interest again. I’m getting to the point where I can read French, but I cannot understand spoken French. I watch French movies on Netflix, with the French closed captions turned on, that helps. I’ve been looking for an affordable French conversation class near me, but to no avail. Even so, it’s a very enjoyable pursuit. The grammar is surprisingly easy (if you don’t believe that, try German!) in the first stages. So enjoy the process. By the way, I’m 76.

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/JasRay

I will be 61 this June, it's about the same for me too.

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Randy252053

I am 63, and have been studying duolingo spanish for about a year and a half. For the same reason--to learn to actually speak it--I am going to attend immersion classes in Spain this summer!

May 7, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Jeff_Grundman

My experience is very similar. I'm 55 and have been using Memrise and Duolingo everyday for a year, plus off and on for six months or more before that. I have lots of vocab, can often read simple French, can speak a few simple sentences, and am completely lost when listening to spoken French.

But I am getting better. I have in the last week or so started reading every French question and answer out loud. It is helping a lot, I think. I had been working silently except for the audio questions. I think that was a mistake.

I am nearly certain I will never be fluent, but I am getting better. It is slow going. Periodically I try to listen to French language political speeches. The language tends to be relatively clear, carefully enunciated, and relatively slow in delivery, as compared to conversational French. I am not there yet, but I hope to be at some point. There are "slow French" videos out there as well, but I have not tried any enough to recommend something.

May 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Christine909735

Salut, I am also 67. I started to learn with DL a year ago. I, like you, feel out of my comfort zone actually speaking French. Although I can’t seem to find a way of turning ON the microphone option to try! I’m understanding most of the written french as I progress with the course. May I ask where you are based in the UK? There’s no community groups in this area. It would be fun to start one up but .... scary ! Anyway good luck drake. Regards

May 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/ArnoldCohe1

some linguist believe that some isolated islands in the Carolinas speak with an English accent from pre-Revolutionary times, as spoken by the English colonists . It was what we would now call a "Southern Accent". Who knows?

May 8, 2019

https://www.duolingo.com/Snowdriftwjc

Hi Everyone, I have been learning French for 6 years, since I retired from teaching. I attend a weekly French class at U3A, University of the Third Age, in Melbourne Australia. I started Duolingo at about that time. The first skill acquired is usually reading, then writing, then come the harder skills, speaking and listening. I went on a French immersion trip to New Caledonia with a group of French language lovers, of all different abilities for 8 days. It is the best way to learn the harder skills. I came home "thinking" in French, something one of my French teachers had asked me to do before I was ready. Being older it is harder to retain the knowledge, as we know and we need to be taken through slowly as we don't think as quickly as the young ones. But with daily practise in a variety of French skills we improve. I'd love to live in France for a couple of years..... Listen to French as part of your learning, the French News, Slow News in French, I have a CD which goes with a book which is excellent. Eventually, they will appear to speak slower. Bonne chances

May 9, 2019
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