Portrait : Pierre, 62 years of learning languages

Pierre speaks with Babbel about his his long history of language learning and his experience of learning Spanish with Babbel.

Today we bring you another installment in our series portraying Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives and their reasons for learning a new language. If you would like to share your story with us, please leave us a comment in the comments section. Meet Pierre, hailing from Bengy-sur-Craon, a farming region in central France close to Bourges. At the age of 73, this military veteran has already amassed a great deal of experience in learning languages and has now decided to take a stab at learning Spanish with Babbel.


“In my 62 years of learning languages, I’ve used many methods. However, Babbel is the only one that I happily and effectively continue to use.”

It was through this kind message that Pierre got in touch with us. Intrigued by his comment about 62 years of learning languages, we wanted to know more about his experience and his long-standing history of learning, which he was kind enough to share with us:

“Like many others, I started to learn languages at school. At the age of 10, I discovered Latin and German; at the age of 12 I started with Ancient Greek. While in higher education, at military school, I took up German again from the age of 23 to 25, and at 25 I started to learn Russian. My military career provided me with the opportunity to learn languages while deployed. Between the ages of 28 to 31, I was sent to Chad which is where I learned the local Chadian-Sudanese variety of Arabic. In 1990, I learned Polish and Czech. Besides serving in the military, I also volunteered in several missions in Ghana and Madagascar where I taught French and horseback riding – my lifelong passion. While on the island, I initially started to learn the native language, Malagasy, with the help of a book. Later I was able to practice it by speaking with the locals. Even without ever becoming a proper polyglot, I’ve always made a determined effort to learn the basics of the language of the countries I’ve visited. For me, it’s simply the polite thing to do. It’s important to have a curious mind and to at least know how to say “good morning” and “good evening” in the local language.

Learning the basics and knowing how to buy groceries and order in a restaurant is the least you can do.

I’m now able to take advantage of my retirement by going horseback riding every morning and also by traveling. And, of course, I still learn the languages of the places I visit. Recently I was able to improve my level of Arabic while discovering Morocco. Traveling has given me this passion for learning languages. My latest “crush” is Spanish. On one of my last trips to Salamanca, in northwestern Spain, I fell in love with the city and the language. I decided to sign up with Babbel, and now I’m learning Spanish several times a day on my smartphone. I even learn at night before I go to sleep. My next proposed trip will take me to the Canary Islands for the winter, to put my Spanish into practice. This is what motivates me to learn a little bit more every day.

Of all the languages I’ve ever learned, English is still the thorn in my side. I’ve started to learn it several times but never managed to keep it up. However, I haven’t lost hope yet and once I’ve finished learning Spanish, I will learn English! Everything in its own time.”