The Babbel Blog

language learning in the digital age

User portraits: Michèle and André, swamped retirees

Posted on January 30, 2015 by

User Portrait

We are launching a series of portraits of Babbel users – a snapshot of their lives, and the reasons why they are learning a new language. If you’d like to share your story, let us know in the comments. This month, we interviewed Michèle from Caen in France and André from Québec. Michèle and André do not know each other, yet they have a lot in common. Both are 65 and recent retirees passionate about traveling. They are learning Spanish regularly with Babbel to travel around the world the best they can.

“Since I’ve retired, I never stop!” says Michèle, a young retiree from the region of Caen in France. Like many retirees, Michèle is overwhelmed and it took incredible organizational skills to find time to fit Babbel into her busy schedule. Michèle is swamped with projects. She loves traveling and came back enchanted from a trip to Peru, where she realized that she wasn’t so bad at communicating with the locals. “Starting from scratch in Spanish, I noticed during this trip that I had made real progress after 5 months of using Babbel”.  

If traveling is her greatest passion, she is far from being the only one. Since the seventies, retirees have not stopped taking over the world, and the Over 60 age group is arguably the one that takes the most and longest vacations.

Recently retired from finance, our elegant golden-ager André comes from Québec. He also decided to enjoy to the fullest his newly acquired free time and goes on vacation all year long: “Now that I am retired, I spend half the winter in Florida, and I travel often with my partner. That’s what pushes me to improve my language skills. To master languages became very important for our travel goals.”

Michèle would certainly not contradict this. Being a great aficionada of Latin America, she couldn’t envision going to Peru without knowing at least a little bit of the language: “It’s rather pleasant to go to a country knowing how to ask for directions or interact on a basic level with the locals. After 5 months of learning with Babbel, I still wasn’t able to carry on philosophical conversations in Spanish, but I was able to do fairly well at the hotel or on the street. I was able to read the signs, find my own way and communicate with the locals. I was definitely not lost and it helped me a lot in daily communication.”

We already know it: age is not a barrier to learning a language and retirement is more than ever the best time to learn something new. Moreover, 31% of American workers are thinking of taking on a new challenge when retiring and almost 12% of them wish to pursue educational activities. For many of us, retirement is often the time to pursue our dreams, to do what we’ve always wanted to do but invariably postponed for lack of time. “Several years ago I had taken Spanish classes, enough to be able to get around while traveling in Mexico and South America, but not enough to really communicate. So I always had in mind to one day come back to it.” explains André.

It is as the proverb says: “wisdom comes with age” and Michèle and André have certainly discovered the secret of learning languages: perseverance. Sitting comfortably on her sofa, Michèle is learning “a little bit everyday on her tablet or laptop”. As far as André is concerned, he has been learning “at least 5 days a week for about 20 minutes a day, for more than a year now”  and he is convinced that he will reach his goal: “I am sure that you really can speak several languages after a certain number of years”, he explains.

Likewise, Michèle doesn’t intend to stop any time soon. She is already thinking of her upcoming trips, “I want to go to Spain this year, and later to Latin America again: all the more reason not to give up!”


If, like Michèle and André, you would like to share your story with us, just leave a comment below!




i want to learn italion

I can speak both english and bengoli fluently but I can speak in hindi slightly . I want to know chinies and franch language. Can I help anyone

I’m thrilled at the fact that I’m learning Italian from s couple of other sources . And that Babbel is my favorite. The teaching process for learning is pronominal . Thank you, Babbel for being here. Great, great stuff.

I am a 72 and have lived in many countries. Now I live between Spain and Turkey. Learning Spanish is not so difficult as I speak Italian and French fluently, but learning Turkish is a real challenge!

I took a 6-week beginning Spanish course in San Miguel de Allende, MX and now that I live half the year in Spain, I want to improve my Spanish. I also speak Spanish whenever I go out, even for medical visits. I aim to take the B2 exam next fall.

I would like to speak German fluently!

I want to learn French because my mom knows how to speak I want to learn it like my mom did

I would like to speak French very much.

Hi ,
I want to learn English, but how????

My daughter is moving to Montreal from Toronto. 40 years ago I was able to function in both of Canada’s official language. Malheureusement, j’ai perdu francais.
But being motivated, and using the excellent material on Babbel and BBC websites, I hope again to have a Montrealer remark on my lack of accent. It is a fantastic city!!

I’m want lerining English

Being a retired teacher, I am
afraid I cannot afford the method,
though it seems to be a very interesting and effective way
to learn Spanish (in my case).
So, how much does it cost? Elzbieta

Hey I’m not to good form English. I want to learn an English. With English

Through the portal Babbel again after 30 years, I’ve started to learn Swedish and refresh my knowledge of English. Learning Babbel is a big challenge for me, but also inspiration. 10 days ago I’ve started my adventure with my blog, about languages, learning Swedish, fascination with Sweden and desire to show others what I do and what I am interested in 3 languages:

Great post! By the way, I am a 31-year-old Brazilian who has lived in Brazil, Germany, Holland, USA, and am now living in Israel (Tel Aviv). My whole education has been in linguistics and language learning (B.A in Linguistics, M.A in Computational Linguistics, and PhD in Applied Linguistics and Technology). Language learning is my passion and I have spent a good part of my life learning it. I am a fan of the Babbel method so please let me know if my story might interest you. Thanks!

Great to read about Michele and André’s story! I believe my story might be relevant for your blog as well. I am a 31 year old Brazilian who has lived in India, Germany, Holland, USA, and am currently living in Israel. I have a bachelor’s in Linguistics, an M.A in Computational Linguistics, am doing a PhD in Applied Linguistics and Technology and have made language learning an integral part of my life (including Russian now since my girlfriend is Ukrainian). Let me know if my story seems interesting to you and congrats on the great product!

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