https://www.duolingo.com/yoyoyoyoyoy

I understand everything... I can't speak it.

So I'm level 9 in French, I'm pretty immersed in the language (I've spent a few months in France and I have a French girlfriend) but still I'm not able to speak it.

I tell my French friends to only speak French to me and I have absolutely no problem understanding what they say or write, but I have to answer them in English because I just don't know what to say, there's always some word missing in the answer I'm thinking about. My French GF has been talking to me ONLY in French for 1 week already and even though I can give answer like "Oui!", "D'accord", "C'est vrai!"... I'm not able to have a basic conversation when I should.

I've been using Duolingo and Memrise, I had 3 years of French in school, I'm pretty immersed into the language.

I'm desperate, I don't know what to do.

October 17, 2014

33 Comments


https://www.duolingo.com/LauraSwanE

I had a similar experience when learning Spanish. I studied Spanish in high school and did a crash course in Spanish before going to live in Peru for a year and a half. When I got to Peru, I could understand quite a bit of Spanish, but even with my knowledge and the immersion, I spent the first month saying very little because it took so long to figure out how to say what I was thinking. By they time I figured out what to say, the topic would change. But I kept at it and that is why I could start speaking in a month instead of six months. Mind you, the keyword from that sentence is start.

It's been said that before you become fluent in a new language you will make thousands of mistakes. I hate sounding stupid, especially in another language, but each mistake brings me closer to fluency so I'd rather make the mistakes. You are lucky to have a kind girlfriend to make those mistakes with. Now that I'm learning French, I really wish I had someone to speak French with.

Keep at it. You'll do great!

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/ppetrova

Hi. First of all, be positive. The fact that you understand the language shows that you are capable of learning and remembering foreign languages. The transition between passive use (listening/reading comprehension) and speaking is usually difficult. I am multilingual and I assure you that you will find a way to move forward with your French. My advice would be to listen and repeat recordings, films, maybe what your girlfriend says etc. I find it also useful to put some French music on and watch the lyrics while listening. Find whatever suits you, but most importantly: use the language, don't be afraid, make mistakes and remember that this is the best way to learn something new. We all sound like 4-years old when we are not fluent in a foreign language, that's normal. Good luck!

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/EddieODwyer

Hello, take a leaf out of Benny Lewis's book (or website, Fluent in Three Months) and start speaking immediately, you should make one hundred mistakes a day if you can. That will give you a great rate of progress. I am in a similar situation in Spain and it's a lot of fun speaking just beyond what I am capable of, I have little fear of sounding silly in social or professional situations. The best thing to learn is to not be concerned about getting it wrong, people correcting you when you are also studying in your own time is a great way to improve and maintain your confidence - and their advice is authentic and free!

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/alphabeta

Vous : « Quel est le mot français pour... » Votre ami : « C'est ... » Vous : « D'accord, est-ce que tu aimes ... »

Rinse and repeat until your vocabulary improves. I'm very jealous of your opportunity for immersion. Make the most of it! A few missing words is absolutely to be expected, and is no reason to resort to complete English.

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/lemelisk

just try, don't worry if you fail

I stayed in a rural area of quebec for a month, (less then 2% of population of the town understood conversational english) - so i was forced to talk entirely in french, because nobody understood anything i said if i spoke english..... So with my limited french language i had to get kinda creative and improvise - and i was forced to learn new things (ex: i didn't know the word for rain - so i simply replaced it with l'eau de la ciel [sky water] - and everybody laughed at me, but now i will never forget that rain is pluie)

moral of the story. Just try..... don't be scared to fail, and if you don't know how to say something do not revert to english sentences.! In your case you could probably throw in english words in sentences if need be. Otherwise try to improvise and use as little english as possible

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/RominaRocchetti

just try! don't be afraid of making mistakes! start speaking in French and try to complete the sentence! and if you fail do not worry! you are lucky to have a French girlfriend who can help you! and remember that learning a new language can be very funny! good luck! :-)

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/jayeidge

If you only miss one word in your sentences then say the sentence in French with just the word in English. Even if you lack more words, just say as much as possible in French. Often it is a hidden fear of making a mistake that keeps people from talking. Use easy constructions, blurt out all the wrong stuff that come to your mind, your friends will help you and you will see how fast you will improve.

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/MultiLinguAlex

That piece of advice is pure gold. I've been in France for a week right now in order to get fully immersed in the language. 7 days ago, I never had a conversation in French before, but due to an internship, I'm leading a secretariat in a French company now, meaning e.g. that I have to understand phone calls, pass them to my collegues and for doing that, I have to tell my collegues who it is, what it is about a.s.o. My speaking abilities are still very limited, but you learn it by speaking. If I don't have the clue what the person is talking about, I can still ask whether he could speak slowly (Pouvez-vous/Pouviez-vous parler lentement, s'il vous plaît ?), what the name is (Quel est votre nom/C'est de la part de qui ?) and sometimes what the phone call is about (Quel est le sujet ?).

Doing that without ever having had a real conversation before, it scared the hell out of me because of fear. Fear is what holds us back from stepping out of our comfort zone and if you have the real fear to speak French, you won't do it. And you won't progress.

_jgoncalo, just do it. Say everything you are able to, make a lot of mistakes, and you will progress every day. Then you can say something like "Je suis en train d'améliorer mon français très rapidement chaque jour" and say this to yourself every day a few times as a motivator. (I have no idea whether this sentence is grammatically correct. If there is a mistake, somebody here will probably show me the mistake and thus I'm also progressing.)

To sum things up, please have a thorough look at this picture. You can apply that to your live and repeat it for yourself like a mantra:

You will be successful in speaking French if you can step out of your comfort zone and make those mistakes. Good luck to you!

October 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Ontalor

Think of it this way: listening, speaking, reading, and writing are four very different skills. Sure, it's the same language, but what you're doing with it is completely different under those four situations.

How much time have you spent listening and reading? Probably a decent amount. Those skills have had the chance to jump up to much higher levels. Speaking normally doesn't get that chance until much later. When you first jump in, for a good while, it's going to feel like you can't participate in conversations, even to the point that you feel like you lose your personality and people get used to you being quiet. But if you stick with it, eventually you'll be able to start commenting on things, responding in more detail, and slowly recover the same character and personality you have in your native language.

This was a very slow process that I went through in Chinese. You're on the right track, you're just at the hardest part of trying to pick up speed before you actually start feeling like you're moving along.

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/shalfyard

Frenglish it up! My wife is mostly fluent in French and I have been terrified to say anything in French for some odd reason but she recently said "say as much as you can in French and say the parts you don't know in English, I will help with those parts".

We can do this!

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/S2Lang

I have the same issue with Spanish, I can understand everything said (minus one word or two that may be new to me) but when I go to Spain I almost always answer back in english. It's not that I don't know the language, but since I lack practice (in speaking it and writing it myself) I know I make mistakes, so I'm always kinda uncomfortable speaking it.

But I do believe that the issue is mostly in our heads. Because we have a decent understanding of the language, so the mistakes won't be that many. We're just overly self conscious so we keep ourselves from trying, but that way we keep ourselves from ever improving. So I've been trying to speak it more, and I encourage you to do it too. Worst case scenario you'll make a mistake in 1-2 words for sentence, maybe less, and someone will correct you and you'll slowly remember to not repeat the same mistake again.

Believe in yourself and in your skills, good luck! :)

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Cephlin

Sounds like you just need to go wrong. Say things that are wrong. One of the first things I said when I met my French pen pal was completely wrong and meant "I am homosexual." This was nothing like what I intended but we all laughed and it was very funny.

October 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/tnel1

Practice simple dialogues and take it step by step. It does take time to speak. My language teachers in my intensive courses always told us speaking comes last! Maybe this is helpful: http://www.watchknowlearn.org/Category.aspx?CategoryID=3518

Also, at the A2 level I remember all I could basically say was, "My name is X, I come from X, I live in X. I have lived in X for 6 months. I like swimming. :) So, conversation isn't all it's cracked up to be! hahahaaha. At the B1 level we had to expand our vocabularies and say more. I remember one time we broke into groups and each of us had to try to sell a house to the other person with basic vocabulary describing the house. We would also write short dialogues together and then read them aloud in class.

Don't worry!!!! It's only been a week, and if your girlfriend is patient, you will learn French soon enough. Remember you can say a lot! Where is X? When is X? Use those question words and you can say a lot! Being able to say "I like X" can also take you far! Good luck!

p.s. It's been awhile since I studied French, but I remember there being a lot of great podcasts - that had short lessons. Have you ever used that Frenchpod101 site? p.s.s. you might also write out typical things you like to say. It might sound corny, but I did this to be able to say the things I wanted to say in the other language. I wanted to feel like myself in the other language. Once you find yourself in the language you will find the phrases you need to get by/get going withit!

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/meeziemcmahon

I am the same. I studied French for 5 years at school, which was nearly 10 years ago now. I decided to move to France, I have been here nearly three months and I also have a French boyfriend. He speaks almost perfect English so we have always spoken in English. It frustrates me because I can read and understand most things, but when it comes to speaking I feel like a 2 year old. Je veux....(insert word in English) and when I do try, either no-one understands me or they reply in English - because that is helpful, right?!

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Medard

You could try speaking with professional teachers via Skype. They are patient and helpful.

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/ameera0786s

i know I'm new here and i just came but i'd like to give you some advice too. At home, you could just have a simple conversation with yourself in french. pretend that you are your girlfriend and ask yourself a question.. bonjour ca va? ca va mal et toi?

so on.. hope this helps! good luck :)

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/MohDjenilto

hey

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Resonance2001

Supplement your studies with Michel Thomas and Paul Noble CDs. That'll help.

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Alpine_Ink

I understand the feeling. I was taught French in kindergarten as if it were my first language [with no connections made to English] and I still can't carry a good conversation in the language after almost 12 years. When my teachers speak they switch from English to French very often and I don't even notice the switch most times but when I speak I can only just barely get my point across in a very awkward way. I suggest having your girlfriend help, make an attempt to speak more in French and she can help you along. My friend is a francophone and in his family the rule is if you start the sentence in French try to finish it in French. Also try purchasing a few French books and reading them out loud [that's what I'm doing].

October 17, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/fewjd3ii42

Le francais est une langue tres dur. Mais si vous voulez vous pouvez

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/FrenchCrazy

I would disagree, French isn't significantly harder than learning another language. It does depend on person to person and their previous experiences, however going into language learning with the mindset that something is hard would most likely be discouraging to your studies.

October 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/BalqeesKhalifa

it's harder than English :l

October 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/Firerosebloom

Currently, I am learning German as a native English speaker and I have found that German similar to French is much harder than English because of all the articles. In English we have the word the, but in German we have der, die, oder das. So yes, other languages are usually harder than English.

October 20, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/JenniferNarzt

It is hard to wrap your mind around the genders/articles/changes in Grammar structure, yes; but many people say that it's harder to learn English as a second language than it is many other languages, because English has so many exceptions to grammar rules, etc. We don't notice them because we were immersed in the language from a young age, but they're there.

October 22, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/pozine

*très dure :D

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/KatrinaKir10

if I don't know what a word is I usually just say something like..............comment dit-on"rocket" for example.

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/_Rensie_

You can try with the songs, but must believe you can do it! http://lyricstraining.com/

p.s.: Is correct my English? :D

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/yoyoyoyoyoy

Just a correction, "is my English correct?" the rest is great! And thanks so much!

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/_Rensie_

Thank you for the correction :)

October 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/vittorepecchini

Você só tem que tentar. boa sorte

October 19, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/ptilda

What everyone else said. But the truth is, you CAN speak, you're just afraid. Even if (when) you make a ton of mistakes, you are fortunate to have people around to support and help you. SO just speak! Write sentences you plan to use that day. Maybe you want to ask GF how work was. So write down, "how was work? Anything exciting happen? Are you tired? What did you eat for lunch?" etc. And memorize those. then practice saying them to her. The next day, add a conversation about brushing your teeth, talking about how you spent 3 minutes brushing, and you used mouthwash, and then you rinsed four times, and you forgot to floss . . . whaterver. Just plan to have the conversations and write and memorize your script. The more you do this, the better you'll get.

A really good tip is to memorize compliments for the GF. This will go a long way in general for you! :)

May 18, 2017

https://www.duolingo.com/Phyllisyao

speaking and writing are totally different

October 18, 2014

https://www.duolingo.com/JeanetteKo13

Help ! I have completed the level, but my app stops I am on a new phone

September 1, 2018
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