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!