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Had my first face to face conversation in French!

Hi people, passed a bit of a milestone on the weekend! I have been learning for about 16 months and I heard two French people speaking on a train in England. I hadn't spoken to anyone in French face to face before and the opportunity seemed too good to pass up!

I waited until they had finishing speaking in order not to be rude and just said "excusez-moi, vous etes francais ?" She said "Oui", with a big smile, so I sat down and said a bit more in French, but then my language skills quickly went downhill, so I switched to English with a bit of French thrown in.

I made some mistakes, but so did they and we helped each other with our French and English.

After a few minutes it was time for me to get off the train, but still, at least a partial success!

It helped that she was friendly, but it also shows that people appreciate you speaking to them in their own language! My heart was pounding before hand, but I think I will be a bit less nervous in future!

July 14, 2015



Speaking to others in their heart language naturally warms their heart. Congratulations. I was married to a French man for 22 years and never became fluent because it was only spoken at family gatherings not in our home (United States) and I was not received with encouragement when I tried. Now I have a son living in France and am truly motivated to become completely fluent.


Sorry to hear it didn't work out well, but yes it looks like you have a lot of motivation to become fluent now. To help check-out some "frequency dictionaries". They aren't perfect and have a few mistakes in them, but I think they should form part of the language learning experience.

https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/Wiktionary:Frequency_lists#French http://french.about.com/ - good for grammar. http://www.larousse.com/en/dictionaries/french - good dictionary http://www.linguee.com/ - another good dictionary http://www.lerobert.com/espace-numerique/telechargement.html - probably the best dictionaries, but they are not free.

Best of luck!


PS, only the top link is for frequency dictionaries, the others are just random dictionaries and good sites to help.


Excellent! What a great start! When hearing your language out in public, it is so gut wrenching to think about passing up the opportunity. I'm happy that you went along with a conversation!


I'm glad you had the guts to speak out. What you managed to say or not is completely irrelevant, the important part is that you tried. And it seems you succeeded way more than you envisioned, good for you! Speaking to natives should be the number one goal of any language learner. I'm very happy you got a perfect opportunity to try it and went for it!

I hope it motivates you to work even harder to improve! Keep up the good work!


Thanks! Yes I learnt from my mistakes during it and it gave me something to work on when I got back! Always trying to improve.


I am just starting out with duolingo. I wish I will get such an opportunity with time. Your story is encouraging.


Awesome story.


Félicitations! I'm not sure where you live, but a suggestion to you and all who wish to speak with other like minded people in the world of "des langues étrangères" is to try MeetUp.com and search French or French speakers (or whatever language) and perhaps you will find a group to meet with occasionally. Not every city will have a local group, so you might have to drive a bit to find an established group. If there are no options for you, perhaps you can start a group of your own! I meet twice a month at a local café with a group of Francophones from many French-speaking countries and learners like myself. i have been attending meetings since the end of 2009 and it has really helped my listening skills. I still get tongue-tied, but I'm much better than I was 6 years ago. Bonne chance to all of us learners!


Merci ! Bonne idée


Trés genial Eddie! I'm sure the next time you have an opportunity to speak French with a native speaker, you will be more confident. You brought up something that is really important. You were able to help the other person with her English. Sometimes we forget that there's a lot of room for cooperative support. Vous êtes une source d'inspiration!


Merci ! Oui, elle prononcé : « placement » comme « plassment ».


How cool! Congrats to you! I speak English (obviously) and Spanish, but I am learning French and German as well and can't wait to find some people to practice with! I play a few online games with many international players, so that has let me practice a bit here and there. How exciting to you got some face-to-face time :)


I need to find people with whom to speak French, it's the only language that I still haven't used properly in real life :D


Jesus Christ man, aren't all these languages hard to juggle in your head?


well I'm not learning actually danish, irish, turkish and ukrainian ! I just tried them a little


Speaking to someone in their language is speaking to the heart, otherwise it would be the head. That was great


I just had my first face to face conversation too! I was at the beach and met a french family on vacation. I was able to help their young son, who only spoke french, to learn to skim-board.


Brillant ! Je vous souhaite tout le meilleur.


Super happy for you! I can't even talk to my own French speaking friends in their language properly, what more for other people! I wish I could be as courageous like you and make more friends. Bonne Journée! x


Thanks! Well 16 months had helped and it was on a train, so nothing much better to do! :)


Félicitations mon camarade! I hope I'll be as brave as you next time. Well done!!


Merci pour vos souhaits et répondre en français.


Merci beaucoup pour l'information et l'encouragement.


Merci beaucoup. Your story is very inspiring :D I've just started. I hope one day I can hold a conversation in French :D


Merci et bonne chance !


WOW congrats! I had a slightly similar experience yesterday but I was rather surprised at the phrases that kept coming to me. I studied French in high school but I'd never had to opportunity to practice it and my study on Duolingo has been quite sporadic, so I enrolled for classes again. I took my assessment exam last evening... I was quite happy with myself :)


Merci ! Félicitations et bonne chance.


Excellent! Congrats. :D


Where I live, we have meetup groups and language exchange events. I am learning German. I find that attempting to speak the language about once a week significantly improves my confidence and ability with speaking and thinking in the language. You might want to browse social networking sites for such groups and their events. I find that I now (after four months of learning German and three months of attending language exchange events) speak much more confidently than people who have taken then B1 courses at Goethe Institut if they are attending language exchange events for the very first time. More speaking practice!


Merci ! Vous avez bien fait.


I have discovered that Kingdom Hall of Jehovah's Witnesses hold meetings in different languages eg french, spanish, italian. Since it is a church you can listen to the language for an hour or so with questions? and then if brave, try saying hello to the natives. A free opportunity to mingle and try a few sentences. You also get a chance to read along in the magazine, bible and sing also.


what a courage brother , is not really easy to break down your first conversation in public with the language you trying to speak. It's like you were trying to build up a mountain out of a mud and finally you succeeded by giving it a try. I am also in the same boat with you, let's just keep on digging the well, we will finally fine some fresh water the bottom of it.


Merci ! Bonne chance !


I congratulate you for having the guts to start the convo, making the first step isn't as easy as it sounds to be. I wish I could have enough courage to do the same because I regret that I've missed so many similar opportunities. Keep it up! My best wishes :)


Merci ! Ne regrette pas rien !


Vous avez raison! Je vais essayer de ne rien regretter.


Communication face to face is always the best way to learn a language. It's normal that you'll make some mistakes at the first time but slowly you get used to it and become fluent in French. Sometimes, I communicate in French with my mother because she's a french educated and knows french and this makes me easier to learn the language. Bonne chance!!


Merci pour vos encouragements !


De rien Eddie. I wish all the luck to you!!


that's awesome. i hope to have a conversation like that oneday. when i was in france a woman in a shop tried to explain something to me in very loud fast french and i had no idea what she was saying. i hope the next time i go there, i will be able to understand more. it's also very helpful when the person is really nice.


I was on a train in England and had some French lady sit next to me, was too embarrassed to speak to her since she was reading. I appreciate your courage!!


Inspiring !!

It really made me happy to read it ... and i actually wish to make this step once :( :(,but it's alwas the shiness :( ...

So ... really a very good step ;) ... keep it up!


Merci ! Le plus vous apprenez le plus confiant que vous devenez.


I had a similar experience on a commuter train in the US. I was sitting next to a simultaneous translator for the Canadian Parliament. How cool is that? He was very patient with me and very encouraging. I opened with "Vous parlez français?" I knew he spoke French because I heard him speaking with his colleague. His English was perfect, too.


Génial Eddie, it's nerve wrecking as it is talking to strangers let alone in another language you only learning :)


I think I made a mistake! I should have said "vous êtes française ?", because I was speaking to a female. Not français? Is this correct?



Felicitations, et bonne chance pour ton future!

I personally tried another app (Hellolingo), and found a couple of language partners there. While it does involve some speaking, I mostly write. Most of it understandable, albeit it definitely needed some corrections. ;)

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