MyFrenchLife™ member survey results: Why learn French?

MyFrenchLife™ - learning French - dreams

Why do you learn French? What do you hope to achieve?

We really wanted to know how our community was going with their French language goals. What good is a community of like-minded Francophiles if we can’t support one another in our journeys?

So, we put together a special membership survey to find out what makes MyFrenchLife™ members tick when it comes to learning French. We wanted to hear your stories: how you’re struggling, being challenged, inspired and rewarded by this adventure.

We’ll be sharing the results in this series, so your French language journey can be smoother, more informed, and satisfying.

First up, we asked our members why they chose to learn French. What are your goals? How have you tried to reach them? Have you succeeded or failed? And what have you learnt from the process? Let’s find out…

The top five goals of our language learning community

MyFrenchLife™ - learning French - setting goalsThe French language seems elegant, romantic and that accent just carries with it an air of mystery!

Oui, these are the stereotypes of la langue française that many of us are guilty of indulging in… But what is it that drives us to try to learn French?

We all have our own ‘French thread’; our personal reasons for undertaking this challenging yet rewarding task. Surely though, there are some overarching goals that we all share?

Why set goals?

Setting goals is an important way of visualising your endpoint, and encouraging a real sense of achievement in just how far you have come in learning French.

Of the community members we’ve spoken to, most spend about two hours a week on conversation practice with about one to three hours a week on written expression to achieve their ultimate goal. Plus, there are so many great apps and websites out there to make learning French easy!

The great thing about making your own personal set of goals is you don’t need to be beholden to anyone else. It all comes down to what you want; what you can realistically manage every week in a busy schedule. The last thing we want after all is for learning French, such a beautiful language, to become a chore! It’s all about finding your own routine for learning French and sticking to it.

“The great thing about making your own personal set of goals is you don’t need to be beholden to anyone else. It all comes down to what you want; what you can realistically manage every week in a busy schedule.”

Nevertheless, if you are looking for some encouragement in striving to be a certified Francophone, look no further. We’ve asked you and we’ve heard loud and clear your reasons for learning French.

So here they are the top five goals of a French learner – according to you!

1. Learning French to… achieve a DELF certification

Many in our community who are learning French engage in group or private classes to achieve an internationally recognised DELF/ DALF certification. Reasons for obtaining the certification varies from the passion for everything French to the challenge in itself, but the end goal remains the same.

Requiring study in written and spoken expression, achieving a certified DELF level is a fabulous achievement! Plus, being an all-rounder in the French language, you’ll be able to benefit from all the aspects of French culture. Just think – la littérature, la poésie et la philosophie read in their original form.

2. Learning French to… attain fluency in conversation

Some of us find the written side of French, especially tricky grammar, much less motivating than developing our conversational skills. Fluency seems a hard concept to actually define, however it remains an ultimate goal for much of our community who are learning French.

MyFrenchLife™ - learning French - Metro

For some of us learning French, fluency simply means a high level of conversation  being able to identify patterns in everyday speech and mimic these. For others, fluency cannot be achieved except through living in la belle France itself, where you will pick up local slang and idioms to pepper throughout your speech.

From perfecting the French accent by practising in a conversation class, to spending a few hours each week on building up a large vocabulary, the Francophile’s thirst for French seems insatiable!

3. Learning French to… think in French

For some, the goal of fluency is one and the same as the goal to be able to think in French. Instead of constantly translating from the mother tongue, this goal is perhaps the most challenging as it requires fluency – but we all love a challenge, n’est-ce pas?

“From practising in a conversation class to spending a few hours each week on building up a large vocabulary, the Francophile’s thirst for French seems insatiable!”

There is a common idea that dreaming in French is perhaps a sign of thinking in French. However, according to our community’s experiences, this might be more myth than reality…

All the same, thinking in French seems to happen without you even realising it, through regular exposure every week to both written French and, most importantly, spoken French. Plus regular encounters with the language mean that you’ll be learning French without the struggle!

4. Learning French to… live and work in France

Some of the more adventurous among us aspire to pack up and live in France (in fact, some of us already are!). Living in France is a great opportunity to improve your language skills, through an immersion method. Alors, the level required is not necessarily fluent, though this seems to vary from person to person and their personal method of learning French.

However, if working in France (in a French speaking workplace), a DELF certification of language level will usually be required to show to your employer. As you can see, many of these goals for learning French go hand in hand.

5. Learning French to… be the ultimate savvy traveller

MyFrenchLife™ - learning French - travellerIn our quest to be the ultimate savvy traveller, nothing is as useful as a firm grasp of the local tongue. Seeing beyond the regular tourist trail is so much easier to do when you don’t need to struggle with basic vocabulary. Unexpected adventures abound when you have the ability to be dropped off in remote France and still get by!

Not only will locals treat you with more respect (particularly Parisians), you’re also more likely to make some fabulous local friends! Just think; conversing in French as you sip your vin rouge and lavish your taste buds with all the fabulous gastronomie francaise… Ahh, one can dream!

No wonder this is the ultimate goal for so many French language students.

Whether you find yourself nodding along in agreement with these goals for learning French or not, every person’s goal differs slightly. For some, a goal cannot be so neatly drawn out as we have done above. In fact, many of us find that our ultimate goal in learning French is a combination of all five.

Remember though – while achievement is personal, it’s great to have a like-minded community like MyFrenchLife to support you!

Do you agree with our top five list? If you’re learning French, what is your ultimate goal? Please share with us your responses and thoughts below.

Read more from our community survey results series…
 1. Private tuition vs. group learning – which will work best for you?
2. Your favourite apps and websites for learning French

Image credits:
2. Metro, by Fabrizio Sciami via Flickr.
3. Traveller, via Pinterest.

Further reading:
1. Amazing French learning Apps and tools 
2. Top French learning Apps and tools 
3. Top Apps and resources for learning French

NOTE: This popular article was refreshed and republished in 2021

About the Contributor

Judy MacMahon

Experience FRANCE beyond the CLICHÉ with MyFrenchLife is for Curious Savvy Francophiles wherever you are. Meet Francophiles in France, online, and/or wherever you live. You’re very welcome to join us - Judy MacMahon -

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  1. Christina Guzman Oct 3, 2014 at 3:17 PM - Reply

    As someone who loves languages, I have a goal of a certain number of languages I would like to learn in my life and french happens to be one of them. My goal is solely to speak fluently (and hopefully write), but to add to languages that I already know.

  2. Jill Craig Oct 6, 2014 at 5:33 AM - Reply

    I find it intriguing how completely differently people define `fluently`. For me, it’s speaking with ease, and without struggling to find some round-about way of expressing what you mean. For a friend of mine, it simply means getting by in day-to-day life.

    • Elise Mellor Oct 6, 2014 at 5:16 PM - Reply

      Jill, I have friends from Europe (Scandanavia, the Netherlands and Germany for example) who lament the fact that they are not fluent in English – and I promise you they speak English as well as I do. I was visiting my friend Paolo (he’s from Portugal) and I saw a German novel on his coffee table. I asked him how good his German was and he replied “Better than my English, but certainly not fluent”. I was shocked as I would have said he was fluent in English!!

  3. Elise Mellor Oct 6, 2014 at 5:13 PM - Reply

    Personal goal: to be able to listen to French hip hop and understand it!

  4. Ellen Burns Oct 6, 2014 at 6:21 PM - Reply

    I have dreamt in French but to think in French is a distant fantasy!! My French has really deteriorated since I stopped studying…I used to be able to discuss French immigration in French and now I have just enough to get by.

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