Why Living in a French-Speaking Country Doesn’t Make You Fluent [And What Does]

For a lot of people the only way to truly become fluent in French is to live in a French-speaking country. Now, although this can certainly be a good way to help improve your French, it isn’t by any means a necessity. There are plenty of foreigners who spend an extended period of time living in France or another French-speaking country and are far from being a fluent speaker of French.

So if living in a French-speaking country doesn’t necessarily make you fluent then what does?

It may seem simple, but trust me it goes pretty far. Simply having the drive and the desire is what will lead you to French fluency. If you don’t believe me and still think that immersion in a French-speaking country is what you need, let me ask you question. Have you ever met an immigrant in your own town or country who, despite having lived near you or in your area for quite a long time, still doesn’t speak your language very well?

I think that most of us have experienced this to some degree. If simply living in a country where your target language is spoken is enough to bring you to fluency, then why haven’t these people become fluent? (Of course there are plenty of people who do indeed become fluent, but we’ve all met people who haven’t) The answer is because they simply don’t have the desire or the motivation to fully learn language.

Another important thing to take into account is that just because someone lives in a country where another language is spoken that doesn’t mean that they themselves are immersed in that language. There are plenty of people who for the most part keep to themselves, their friends, and their family.

They spend their days around people who speak their language or perhaps in a community where their native language is spoken. Sure, they may have to step out into situations where the language of the country is spoken, but for the most part it’s not a consistent thing for a lot of people.

Probably the biggest takeaway from what we’ve gone over is that if you have the chance to spend any amount of time in a French-speaking country you should absolutely do it. However for a lot of us this just isn’t something that is very practical.

Despite this, you definitely should not let this stand in your way of becoming a fluent French speaker. So for those who aren’t able to travel what can we do? Well if we can’t bring ourselves to the French, then we’ll bring the French to us.

Thanks to today’s technology creating an immersive environment at home is easier than ever. And you don’t have to rely strictly on learning materials created for French learners to do this. With the help of the Internet you can easily watch French movies, TV, read online newspapers, read books, and even speak with others.

Below are some of my favorite resources the practice with:

RFI – Journal en français facile

6play.fr -You’ll need a French VPN to watch French TV (I recommend downloading the TouchVPN Chrome Extension)


RFI – Journal en français facile

Take some time out of your day and use some of these resources. Find something you enjoy and stick with that. If your learning resource is something that you enjoy you’ll learn much faster than if it was something that you found boring.

If you’ve read the article, “Studying French Abroad, The Pros and Cons” you’ll know that, although it may sound crazy, there are actually disadvantages to learning a foreign language in a country where that language spoken. We won’t go into them into much detail here, but if you haven’t read through that article I highly recommend doing so.

The biggest thing I’d like the pull from that article however is that when you are in a French-speaking country you can sometimes be forced to speak at a level that you may not be ready for. The problem with this is that you may miss some of the vital building blocks that you need in order to speak the language error-free. Assuming that you would like to speak French correctly, this is something that you should keep in mind the next time you tell yourself that French fluency can only be achieved in a French-speaking country.

If you know that for the time being traveling abroad is just not possible, then take the time to practice at home and to gain enough confidence so that when the time does come you won’t feel forced to speak at a level that you aren’t ready for. This way you won’t miss out on those vital building blocks we spoke about.

What have we learned here? We learned that spending time in a French-speaking country can be an amazing experience, and is definitely worth doing. Above all, however, it shouldn’t be something that holds you back in any capacity from achieving French fluency.

There are people all over the world living in foreign countries where languages other than their own is spoken, and they are far from being fluent. With enough desire and motivation you can become fluent in much less time than you originally had thought.

What do you think? Have you how to experience learning French in a french-speaking country? How did it go? Do you feel as a result of this experience you have become fluent what do you think that there were other factors that came into play? Comment below and tell us about it.