September 11, 2013
I've been to France (and Quebec, if that counts) many times.
My mother is a native French speaker, but I did not learn French at home because my mother said she wanted us to be American! But I think the real reason was that my father (an American) did not speak French. I studied French for years in school. When I worked in industry, I gave a training course in French.
I'll give you the typical philosopher's answer here: it depends what you mean by "speaking". When I was a child, my mother taught me some words and phrases, but she did not converse with me in French. In school, I did fine in the classes, but the content was limited, and I never got much farther than the passe compose and the immediate (aller + infinitive) future. I have been spending at least an hour a day on French for the past seven months, using online materials, reading and writing French, and listening to Francis Cabrel, who enunciates very clearly! I think I have made progress with vocab and grammar, and my listening comprehension isn't bad, but it is still difficult for me to put it all together and produce actual spoken French!
I'm a retired philosophy professor. I also worked in the computer industry for 10+ years, before I got my philosophy job. My husband and I will be spending a semester in Paris next year.