Around France

Top 10 Reasons Why I Can’t SpeakFrench

I can’t speak French. I live in France and can barely put together a sentence in French. It’s getting to be embarrassing.  

I have Rosetta Stone and another online language program on my computer. I work on them occasionally. A couple of weeks ago, I signed up for a beginner’s class through a Uzès expats group. Friday was the first day of class. When I arrived for the lesson, it had been postponed. So, you see, some of it isn’t my fault.

If I write down all my excuses for not learning French, I’ll shame myself into trying harder.

Here’s the countdown:


It’s the weekend


I’ll do it tomorrow.


I’m too old


I have a headache


I don’t get it


I need a drink


I get along fine


I watch French movies


Where’d the day go?


 “Don’t even try it!” says Joel, the owner of Le Bistrot in Uzes.

I sampled a few French phrases from him, and he said, “No! Stop!”

Apparently, I’m abusing the language. He says I can quote him.

can't speak French

Joel at Le Bistrot in Uzes



Le Bistrot in Uzès


Perhaps, the solution is to begin writing blog posts in French. Capturing moments in my French life for posterity is where I want to spend my time. Why not write about these moments in French?

Picture this: me penning a post in French,  trying to navigate grammar and vocabulary without Google Translate. The thought makes my hair stand on end. It would be like diving headfirst into a pool, not knowing how to swim. It would be a comedy of errors.

But hey, laughter is the best medicine, right? Let’s see where this idea takes me. À la prochaine!can't speak french

16 replies »

  1. When I get there…and it will happen!…, and you return from your winter in the States, .let’s do an immersion course for a week. I’ve found one in Brittany that looks like a great location, one in Toulouse that seems moderately priced, and they are all over Provence!

  2. I feel your pain! When I came to France last summer it was to use the French I had been faithfully working on through my (expensive) Pinsleur learning program. I thought if I just went to France for a couple of weeks and make a point of speaking French, it would all come together and something would magically click.

    I tried and got a lot of quizzical looks, blank stares, or an English response asking me to speak English PLEASE!

    I did better with hand gestures and the odd French word. Then I got an “Ahhh, oui Madame!” Pleased they’d figured out the little game of charades.

    If I ever found the magic lamp my first request to the genie would be to conquer the French language. (Fame and money seem less elusive at this point! )
    Keep learning my friend and one day it will all come together. If not, somehow I know you’ll survive on personality alone!

    • Kathy, you made my day! That’s exactly the problem. I do better when I don’t even try! Wish you’d come back some time to practice again. I loved seeing you!

  3. Dear Deborah,
    You are an intelligent, lovely woman…. add to that the courage and fortitude it took to pull up stakes from a country you know, and move to another you admire….let’s just say that you are remarkable!
    Please…. don’t let negative, thoughtless comments of one unhelpful person keep you down….making mistakes using a new language is sadly, or humorously, inevitable, and every single person who is learning something new will trip up and not be able to be an expert immediately or maybe even ever…but you don’t need to be perfect! …don’t give up! One little step at a time will get you to where you want to be. You are no quitter I can tell, and we haven’t even met. I hope you find inspiration from the comments of your readers….we get so much of it from you.
    Many thanks for all of your super interesting, beautifully photographed, thoughtfully composed, cheery, fun, and uplifting blogs!

    • Oh my, Beth. You are so encouraging. I know that I’m better than I was last year at understanding the language. Maybe next year I can speak. Like everything else in life, it seems, getting where you want to go is done one step at a time. Thank you for reminding me of that. I’m so happy that you enjoy the blog. It’s done a lot to entertain myself and to help me remember all the wonderful things that are happening to me. If it inspires others to examine themselves, admit they have a dream they want to pursue, and take that first step towards it … I’m thrilled. We all need cheerleaders.

  4. Deborah all these 10 excuses should be put aside and you should continue the quest to become fluent in French. Well maybe not fluent but at least partially conversant with the language because it helps your brain cells recover from all the wine 🍷 you consume!!😊💕

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