Manon: Hello Bomonyo.   

Bomonyo: Hi, how are you? 

Manon: Fine and how are you? 

Bomonyo: Very well. 

Manon: Thank you for accepting the invitation on the podcast. 

Bomonyo: My pleasure. 

Manon: Today, you're going to talk to us about learning French, you can't hear it like that, but French is not your mother tongue. So, first of all, can you tell us about yourself, introduce yourself?   

Bomonyo: Yes, you said it well: French is not my mother tongue, I started French two years ago. The story is a bit long.
I was on holiday for 4 months, here in Nigeria, after the first year of university we are on holiday, especially if it's a private university. During that time, I told myself that I didn't want to waste my time, I wanted to do something new, I wanted to try something new. So I thought, why not learn a new language. Because I had already tried to learn French a long time ago and I had also tried Spanish in 2016.
In 2018, I said to myself: "What language am I going to learn? I thought, "I'm going to try again to learn French, which I had already learned a little bit in primary school. Maybe French is better, it's a better choice because Nigeria is a country that is surrounded by many French-speaking countries like Cameroon, Benin and Niger. I told myself I will learn French, I will try again with French. Now I hope to speak better.  

Manon: I can confirm that you speak French very well.   

Bomonyo: I used a lot of applications to learn French like Duolinguo, HelloTalk. I watch a lot of things on YouTube in French. In fact, I live my life in French, because as someone who lives in an English speaking country, it's hard to find time to practice French, so I tried to surround myself with French moments as much as possible. That's what I've been doing for the last 2 years. 



Manon: In primary school in Nigeria, do you still learn French?   

Bomonyo: Yes, that's right, but frankly few people speak French well because it's not specific to Nigeria. They don't teach foreign languages there very well. 

Manon: Does French have a special place in Nigeria? It's true that in Africa there are a lot of French-speaking countries. 

Bomonyo: Not really. Not in real life. At school, yes, you can become a French teacher or at university. It's a 100% English-speaking country.   

Manon: You were telling us that you learned French because you had a lot of time to start something new, but are you now considering, after learning French, using it to seize a professional opportunity or studying in a French-speaking country? 

Bomonyo: That's a good question because now that I'm learning French, now that I speak French, I think about it, because I know it's an opportunity, especially if you speak French and English. It could be an opportunity for me to work in a French-speaking country in the future because I'm still very young, I'm 18 years old, so I have a lot of things to do still. Why not study in a French-speaking country, in France or in Belgium. That's something that interests me. If I have the opportunity, I will do it.  

Manon: Don't hesitate if you have a question on this subject, if I can help you, it will be a pleasure. It's quite impressive because you have a very good level. Have you ever been to a French-speaking country?   

Bomonyo: Not yet, all I have learned is by myself. I've learned from home, I use the internet a lot, with YouTube, French songs, but actually I've never lived in a French-speaking country, I've never been to a French-speaking country, but I'd like to one day. 



Manon : You have a very good oral expression. How did you manage to practice French from home?   

Bomonyo: Frankly, I have to say it's hard because you're not going to find an opportunity every day. It's not like you can get out of your house and find someone to practice with. It's not possible that. What I'm doing, then, there's a lot of steps, I'm gonna start with the first one.

  • The first one, in the beginning I used to talk to myself a lot, it's something I always do. I talk to myself so that I can retain the things that I've learned. It helps because in the end there's no one to judge you. You're alone with yourself. That's what I do.
  • Just to practice on the weekends as a student, I'm pretty busy during the week. On weekends, I practice with my French, Belgian and Cameroonian friends. Secondly, little by little, when I started to understand the language better, I started talking with people through applications like HelloTalk. I found a lot of people on it, I made friends.
  • Thirdly, I try to record myself, maybe it can't work for everybody, but I find time during the day, especially at night, I record myself and tell what I did during the day. It helps a lot. That's all I do. 

Manon: It's really interesting! You actually record yourself talking about your day, for example? 

Bomonyo: Exactly, that's it. 

Manon: It's a great exercise! It's true that we're not all comfortable with it, but it's great to see your progress. If you look back at your videos from a few months ago, you can see if it's changed.

Bomonyo: Yes, you'll see that now that you're expressing yourself better, you know how to use filler words. 

Manon: Yes, the connectors. The words that fill the conversation. (language tics)   

Bomonyo: Exactly, that's what words like "Euuuh"; "voilà"; "bah" are all about. Just so you'll realize you're starting to use that. When you register, you're going to see the progress you're making and have made. It's very important. 



Manon: Yes, indeed. And that's very good, because you prove that it's possible to learn a language by yourself and by being in a non-French speaking country. Could you tell us, I don't know if you have, but a typical day when you insert little moments of French in your day? If you perhaps have a schedule or an organization to learn French?   

Bomonyo: At the moment, I'm still adapting because I have a schedule. I just recently learned that you can say "planning" in French. I had a schedule before the health crisis that we are experiencing, and I am still adapting right now.
Normally, what I do is I listen to a lot of podcasts in French, like yours. And I also listen to French songs when I wake up. I listen to them while I'm cleaning up too. That's what I do to integrate French into my day with podcasts and songs. It's something that's very widespread and very cliché, but it actually works. It's really working. What I also do is I listen to a specific podcast in the afternoon. I don't know if I can say the name.  

Manon: Yes, of course you can.   

Bomonyo: It's Coffee Break French. I listen every afternoon and I write down the new vocabulary words and in the evening I add in the Anki application, it's an application you can use for spaced repetition. In the evening I try, not every day, but on an ideal day I will add the words I learned that afternoon in my Anki flashcards. That way, during the day when I'm waiting for something, there are always little moments of waiting during the day. During those moments, I just go and revise my cards. That's what I do, it's simple, but it works. I try to listen to 30 minutes of French a day, it's not much. If I have more time, maybe an hour.   

Manon: It's very interesting what you say, because you're right, you take moments when you have the possibility to do two things at the same time, like cleaning and listening to music in French at the same time. There are lots of moments like that. It's very interesting and very encouraging what you say. It's possible to give yourself 30 minutes a day. A lot of people get discouraged by saying "today, I'm going to work for two hours", but in the end, it takes so much energy that it disgusts people to study French.   

Bomonyo: I wanted to add that the first time I learned French and Spanish in 2016, maybe if you want to learn French and it doesn't work out so well, I've been there. It's not like I'm gifted or anything like that or that I've never failed in life. No, I've already failed twice before I speak French like I do today. The other important thing I want to say is that you have to integrate the French language into your life. When you eat, you have to eat with French. French has to be part of your life. It's very important, that's how you will learn. If you do that, you will only get good results.   

Manon: It's very important to add that you've already tried to learn French several times and that you stopped afterwards. It can happen, it's normal. It's only human. But you tried again, you had perseverance. Now, after two years of working on your own and not having been in a French-speaking country, it's quite impressive.   

Bomonyo: Thank you very much, it's very encouraging. 



Manon: Did you only listen to podcasts, songs and use the Anki application or did you buy grammar books, did you take lessons in a language school? Did you do anything else to get the level you have now?   

Bomonyo: Honestly no, I have never taken any classes. I'm not saying that classes are bad, but I'm not a big fan of this way of learning. I'm someone who prefers to practice, like with videos.
I think that if you want to take classes, like in an Alliance Française, it's better if you start the language first and maybe after 3 months, 4 months or 5 months, when you've learned the basics, now you can start the classes. You will try to learn something specific. I think a lot of people sometimes think that just with a teacher, a book, an application or a video will speak French, but it's not true.
To learn the language, even if you take classes, you have to listen to French songs, talk to people, watch TV shows. You have to try to do as many things as possible in French, not just one. Taking classes is good, but you also need to use other French resources in your everyday life.   

Manon: You seem to be a very autonomous and self-taught person, that is to say that you learn well by yourself, you seem very organized. It's true that it's not given to everyone. Not everyone is very organized and you can quickly get overwhelmed by learning a language. I think that French courses are good for people who are less organized and autonomous in their learning, but it's true that when you are self-taught and autonomous it's quite possible to learn a language by yourself, as you prove it.

Bomonyo: Thank you again.   

Manon: It's true that I'm impressed, I didn't know that you were so young and I didn't know that you had only learned French two years ago. It's going to be really interesting for the people listening because you really prove that you can learn a language in a few years, by not being in a French-speaking country and by yourself. You're proving three things that a lot of people think are unattainable, if not impossible. 

Bomonyo: If that's the case, I'm very happy and very proud too. It's a lot of work and if I can bring something good to the people listening, that's great.   



Manon: Can you tell us what you like about French and France, French speaking countries? Is there something that particularly interests you and maybe motivates you in your learning? 

Bomonyo: I'm going to start with the French and France, because I've just realized that the French love holidays too much. In Nigeria it's not like that, but in France holidays are sacred. I don't know if you know what I mean.   

Manon: Yes, I do see and I confirm. 

Bomonyo: They are very sacred things for them. 

Manon: I think it's quite cultural because holidays is something that our grandparents, the previous generations fought for. We were in a society where there were no holidays, at least no paid holidays. Now, an employee can go on holiday with pay, but that's something the French fought for. Maybe that's why it's so sacred.   

Bomonyo: Here in Nigeria we don't have an official holiday month like in France. Concerning the French language now, I think I like the fact that now I can understand better. I like everything that is French. I like the French, too. I can also watch videos on YouTube in French and there are lots of good French YouTubers that I like, like Cyprien. I would never have discovered them if I didn't speak the language. There are some French series that I like a lot too. I had a hard time choosing just one thing.   

Manon : Have you ever tasted French gastronomy or not yet? I don't know if there are any French restaurants in Nigeria, maybe.

Bomonyo: Not yet, because I live in a not very big city and there aren't too many restaurants like that, so maybe one day I hope.   

Manon: I'm sure that as soon as you get a taste of French gastronomy it will be your favourite thing about France. 

Bomonyo: Ah yes! I'm sure you will too. 



Manon: Can you now tell us about your podcast and your Instagram page? 

Bomonyo: Yes, of course. Actually, I don't think I made my presentation at the beginning of the episode, so I'm just going to take the opportunity to introduce myself better now.   

Manon: Yes, we got straight to the point. 

Bomonyo: I was so excited! For people who don't know me, I'm Bomonyo. I'm 18 years old and I'm Nigerian and I have my own podcast that I started in 2020 called Linguo Podcasts.
It's a podcast that I started because I like learning languages and I like the fact that now that you have learned a language you can see things differently. It's something I've experienced and I want to share through this podcast. In this podcast I am talking about language learning. I recently started a series called "Le vrai français" where I invite French teachers like you and polyglot people. We talk about their passion for the language and together we try to teach French and give tips to people who listen.
Concerning my Instagram page "The real French" inspired by the series on my podcast, for the moment I don't have a publication, but very soon I will publish posts only for French. On my podcast, on the other hand, I talk about language learning in general.   



Manon: Great! I'm going to put the links to your podcast and to your Instagram page. I strongly invite you to listen to Bomonyo's podcasts and to subscribe to her Instagram page to follow her upcoming publications. Do you have a last word? 

Bomonyo: I know that learning languages is not easy, especially learning French. It's not easy, but it's simple. Let me explain. Most of the time people say that the progression line for learning is not linear, but it's zigzag. You don't go directly from point A to point B. I think it's like this. The only way to fail is to stop, not to try. If you continue learning for, like, 6 months, 2 years, 3 years, 4 years, even if it takes 6 years, after a while you're bound to speak the language. My last trick is not to stop, to continue and you can never fail like that.   

Manon : It's very true what you say ! It's quite impressive at your age to have such maturity and such a clear vision of language learning and life in general. I'm very impressed. Thank you very much Bomonyo for being here, it was really interesting. I'm sure you will inspire a lot of listeners. Your journey is really great and very encouraging. I'm sure in 10 years time, you may be a language teacher in a French university. I'm sure you'll have a very rich future.   

Bomonyo: Thank you very much.


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I'll see you soon for new adventures in French, of course! 🇫🇷