Flirting with French

Will he or won’t he?

This is the question in the back of my mind as I read Flirting with French, by William Alexander. Reading Flirting with French, you follow William, who at the age of 57, has set out to master the art of French speaking. He gives himself a year to accomplish the daunting task before he’ll be spending a lengthy time there.

“French,” he writes, “beautiful, maddening, tenacious. It won’t let me win, but it won’t let me go.”

The book was recommended to me by my blogging friend, May. She’s a lovely blogger with grown children who’ve spent extended time in Paris.

Of course, planning my own extended stay in France, I want to learn to speak the language, at least enough to cover the conversational basics, knowing that when I’m there and immersed in I’ll get the best tutelage of all.

I was an English major in school, and linguistics classes were some of my favorites. I love languages, their organic formation, their dynamic nature. For anyone who enjoys the nuances and history of language – Flirting with French is a charming memoir.

On Instagram, don’t you love Instagram? I’ve discovered a site that offers a clever way to build one’s French vocabulary and master coloquial expressions. It’s simple and something I look forward to in my feed several times a week. It’s “French Words.” ┬áJulian Azarian created the Instagram site in August 2013, so he’s been posting for a little over three years now and amazingly has some 500,000 followers. Me included.

Here’s are a couple samples, sometimes with simple illustrations, sometimes not:

Ifrench words


french inst


You can follow him on Instagram here.

But, back to the French flirtation with which Mr. Alexander engages.

Does he or doesn’t he? Learning a new language is tough. And Flirting with French is an entertaining amble through the French language and its history – through linguistics and brain science.

Can we, should we, attempt a new language after 50?

Near the end of the book, after you’ve experienced his successes and failures, his triumphs and times when he wants to give up, Alexander writes, “the most important French lesson learned over the last year is this………..

Well, I won’t spoil it for you.

Does he master the language? Or does he determine he’s too old for the challenge? I hope you’ll check it out yourself. Because win or lose, I think, like me, you’ll enjoy his journey down language’s quirky, interesting way of coming into being, and maybe or not, into our psyche.

8 thoughts on “Flirting with French

  1. I think that after 50 is the perfect time to try a new language! It is such a great brain exercise and I know I sure need that. When we were in Bordeaux in May, our fabulous French tour guide was so helpful and encouraging as my friend and I practiced our rudimentary French, gaining more confidence every day. How wonderful it will be for you to have the opportunity for immersion! By the way, I was so excited about that Instagram page that I popped over to follow then came back to finish reading your post. Thanks for the suggestion!
    Mo at Mocadeaux recently posted…The Secret Word Is Plethora – Guest Posting at Coach DaddyMy Profile

    1. That’s the thing, isn’t it? I’ll learn what I can ahead of time and then pick up much more when immersed in the language and culture and decide it’s okay to stumble and hunt for the correct phrase/words. It’s good to be vulnerable now and then.

  2. I am definitely going to follow “French Words” on Instagram. Thanks for the recommendation. My husband and I spend a week or so every other summer in Quebec. We have a time-share condo on the beautiful Saguenay river north of Quebec City…and deep in unilingual Francophone country. So we love to speak French while we’re there….albeit very badly. The local people are hesitant to try to speak English …that is until they hear our French. Then it’s laughter and self-effacing practicing of language skills all round.

    1. Isn’t that the truth about dabbling and sticking our brave toes into speaking new languages? It takes bravery and a sense of humor. Glad you’re enjoying and toe-dipping. Happy you checked out French Words – it’s fun.

  3. I don’t think anyone should make a blanket assumption that ANY learning after a certain age is crazy! Grandma Moses was in her seventies when she started painting. And I’ll bet you can Google for others.

    My son uses Duolingo for language learning. He started with Spanish (something he learned in high school) and has recently moved to Italian and Norwegian (I have no idea why, but I think it’s fabulous!) It’s FREE, so the price sure is right!
    Debbie recently posted…Proven WrongMy Profile

    1. 100% agree with you, Debbie. And those who keep learning and creating and really living and learning as they age are always an inspiration. I’ve heard good things about Duolingo. Also rave reviews and feedback on Fluenz (fluen-zee). Your son sounds like he has a love of languages. Good for him!

  4. We moved to France permanently a few years ago and six of us had to learn to speak French, my husband was already fluent, I had old school girl French, the children had none. but a few years down the line, the children are totally bilingual and I am very confident if not perfect! Always go for it, we are never to old to learn!

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