When I was a student in high school, French was my favorite subject, In my first quarter, I received my usual grade of C. Then the teacher offered us students the names of pen pals to write to in France, and I started writing to one Daniel Boulart, near Lyon. I would write to Daniel in both English and French, and he would write to me in French and English, and so we were able to better learn each other's language. Actually communicating with a real French student in his language was inspiring. My grade in French went to an A and stayed there throughout high school.
When I visited Paris in 2007, I was surprised to see how much French I remembered. I even had a conversation with a French store clerk in a drug store, a pretty young woman. Further inspired, I began to read French blogs in earnest and my vocabulary increased. I met a French conservative, Kate, who often visits Saber Point and leaves comments in French. Kate does not speak English, and my conversations with her increased my skill even more.
Last week Kate sent me a CD of excellent jazz, a CD called Jasmime, which features a piano player and a string bassist, playing lovely old standards in jazz. Since then Kate and I have been trading emails, and I find I can usually understand her without using the dictionary. I wanted to write to her in French, even though I knew I would make mistakes in my French, but I didn't know how to put the accents into the French, e.g. français, étudiant, Août, etc. I found a webpage that shows how to do it, using the Alt key and a numeric code for letters with accents. Today I wrote her some emails in French, complete with accents. She replied that she was pleasantly surprised at my French.
If I could spend six months in France, I feel certain that I would become fluent in the language.