Help! I’m Losing My French!

The thing which annoys me most at the moment is that I’m losing my French. After approximately 10 years of off-and-on study and achieving a DELF B1 certificate, I speak it passably well. But French and Quebequois friends are still correcting me (thanks!) for making dumb mistakes.

The problem: I don’t think there’s much I can do about it. If you have any ideas, I’m desperate to hear them.

I reason it out like this:

In language acquisition, there comes a point of diminishing returns where the amount you learn from private study, attending classes, doing homework, etc falls well below the amount of effort required to do these activities. I reckon I’ve hit that point. There’s plenty more I can learn. I am by no means an expert or even a particularly fluent french speaker but native french speakers generally feel confident they can speak to me and be understood.

Once this point is reached, the only way to improve one’s language skills is to practice, to use the language regularly and in everyday situations. Language becomes merely a tool rather than an object of study. There are two ways of doing this:

  • total immersion in the culture until the language becomes second nature;
  • regular activities which are conducted in the language.

For me, the first is at this stage impossible due to family and other commitments. As for the second, I can find no activities where learning the language is not the primary aim.

Conversation groups don’t do it for me as I generally have nothing in common with the other people and I’m not good at small talk for the sake of it.

That’s my reasoning. Is it flawed? Are my expectations unrealistic? What have I not considered?

I need to find an activity which, first and foremost, interests me in and of itself which is then conducted solely or mainly in French. My development in French, I feel, will come now from experience rather than training.

Is there, for instance, a local petanque group that’s full of native speakers? Does anyone have any other ideas?