Le Memorial Day: We will never forget
How to say "to handle things, to manage" in French: gerer

French antique giveaway or "key" to the French language with FluentU

Over the years, you have seen these treasured keys in various scenes at our old vineyard and here, in the window seat at Mas des Brun. Today, I am giving away a precious third key! Reader Gus Ellison won the first in 2012, and shared these touching photos. It's time to share one more cherished antique French key... in today's post. (Notice Jackie in the photo. She leaves tomorrow for her couture internship in Paris...)

la clé (klay)

    : key

PRENDRE LA CLE DES CHAMPS = To make off with the goods.

AUDIO FILE: Who will run off with today's treasured antique? Follow these instructions and enter to win (you may listen to the instructions here in French, if you wish)

Une clé. Si vous souhaitez gagner une clé issue de ma collection antique, veuillez, s'il vous plaît, cliquez sur le lien suivant et visitez mon nouveau sponsor. Merci, également, de laisser un commentaire pour le tirage au sort.

A key. If you wish to win a key from my antique collection, please click on the following link and visit my new sponsor. Thanks also to leave a comment to enter the drawing.


To enter today's drawing, click on the banner, above, and tell us what you saw at the FluentU website that appealed to the French learner inside of you! Click here to comment and bon chance!


FluentU is a great new way to learn languages with music videos, movie trailers, news, and more. It's the perfect way to learn French with video context and cultural immersion. They have a terrific website (click here) and just launched their iPhone app today. Check it out!



Smokey says: Step right up! One of these antique French keys may soon be yours! 

Simply click on my sponsor link, here, then come back and leave a message in this comments box telling us what you like about FluentU's approach to learning the French language.

Smokey will toss lucky stardust on your comment when you forward this post to a friend. Lucky star dust just might make the difference in winning today's very personal gift: an antique key to the French language. I promise to choose a wonderful key for you and to announce the winner in the next week... from Paris! Your key will then be posted, before June 20th, from The City of Light (La Ville de Lumière).

These treasured keys were spotted in a brocant in 2008 and are a real trouvaille! Read the story here.

Thank you so much for participating in this very special giveaway, made possible by FluentU. When you visit the FluentU site, you sprinkle Lucky Star dust on Kristi's French Language journal, still trucking in its 14th year online, and sharing the goal of FluentU: to make online language learning accessible to all who wish to speak a foreign language.

Click here to say something about FluentU's language approach and to be automatically entered in the drawing.

FluentU is currently available for Chinese, Spanish, French, English, German and Japanese. Check it out.

A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


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Sue Stephenson

What a fantastic idea collecting keys. Well I can't afford to collect French houses. Would love to, so French keys is obviously the next best thing. I'll put them on my 2015 vide grenier hit list on Pinterest😍

Jane Moisey

Hello, Smokey! I visited Fluent U- I've not heard of the website before. I found it a bit confusing to be honest, but I liked the videos and the choice menu as to where I wanted to start. Thank you for the sweet giveaway.

Martha Gimbut

Hi, I visited Fluent-U. The idea of working with real situations for immersive language education is interesting. I have tried Duolingo, but with my rusty grammar, I did not find I was really learning anything vs mimicking. I may try Fluent-U to improve my rusty French speaking skills!


Each key holds a mystery and a story unknown to us. That's what makes them precious. Likewise, learning French with the FluentU can open many doors to us, as well. I particularly like the idea of learning a language is one is not available to be in a classroom all the time. Thanks for sharing that opportunity.

Ruthanne Martin

Oh keys yes keys, Le Cle! I read Tarot and Cartomancy in France and the deck I use is a Lenormand deck based on Mme. Lenormand, Napolean's astrologist/tarot reader and the most famous fortune teller in Europe at that time. The Cle card, Karmic Key of Destiny is my favorite card and how lovely it would be to have an antique key to go with it. Fluent U looks like fun and a somewhat different approach so I am giving it a go.


FluentU will allow me to follow my whims, interests and personality into another world- for another world is what a new language gives. At my speed, at my time. Kristin, quelle vie formidable vous avez trouvé en apprenant le français.

Jeri Webb

This seems like a great addition to all the ways I try to incorporate French into my brain. Being able to stop and learn that one word in a sentence that you don't know is fabulous. Thanks for finding these folks and hooking us up!


My brain needs constant nurturing to retain a second language. FluentU may just turn me into a European language mistress yet. Love the ability to sidetrack when you already know something but the level I have chosen helps me consolidate when required.

Bob Lyle

Je ai suivi "mot français par jour" depuis mon arrivée à Parcoul (24). Il a été une merveilleuse chance de suivre langue française et les faits et gestes quotidiens de la famille Espinasse.


I centainly need all the help I can get with my French. Excited to check out Fleunt U. Kristin, hope you are well. Moving on to Bonnieux tomorrow.


Love the idea! I'm a visual learner, so anything to help in that regard is wonderfu! Just downloaded the app! Merci bien!

Mary Mumbrue

This program is just what're I need as I am a visual learner. I also am impressed by how the program is organized. Another good feature is that the program alerts the user before the review starts.

Adrienne Acoba

FluentU looks interesting, although a bit pricy. I am, at the moment, trying to learn Tamazight, which is a Berber language. I have very few resources for this, so it would be wonderful if some company would pick this up. Hello, FluentU? And anyway, I would adore having an antique French la clé.


Just watched the video of darth vader disciplining his cat "son" about not doing homework. Great way to learn the language!

Jan Marquardt

Fluentu offers the clever twists and turns of real language usage. We miss so many puns and double entendres of marketing and such when we study a language academically. Looks like an interesting approach. Love the key--I remember the post when you found them!

Alison at The Gracious Posse

A video approach! Brilliant, FluentU!


Merci! I visited the site and signed up. I like that all videos are subtitled in French and have English translations and links to new words.


I agree that fun videos seem like a much more interesting way to improve language mastery. I also liked their suggestions on the 10 best t.v. shows to improve French - I can't wait to see "Camera Cafe"! I'm sure it'll have me laughing while learning some interesting vocab.

Tonya Everley

I will give it a look see. Planning on France next year for our 40 th Wedding Anniversary. My 5 years of French in high school I have not retained! Excited to relearn with Fluentu.

Linda Frank

I have already been learning with Fluent U. I love the short videos on different subject matter to keep it interesting. I wish there was a way to hind the subtitles but I get around that by just covering them for the first run through.

Tom McCullough

When I visited the web site FluentU it reminded me of what my French instructor said 35 years ago when I asked how I could speed up my French learning. "Regardez la télé!" he responded seriously. It seems FluentU has improved on the concept. Neat idea.

Rodney Koontz

I'm a recent convert to the "smaller bits, but more frequent exposure" approach to learning a language for better retention at my less-than-young age. It looks like FluentU might be a convenient tool for this approach.


FluentU seems very useful for language learners at all levels. Videos of spoken language. Flash cards, quizzes and assessment of what is learned help with learning and motivation

Jan Greene

A good idea to keep current with videos and conversation! I will download the app! And, a key is a great idea, but you already have the key to our hearts!

Stephanie Sabourin

I signed up for Fluentu because it does look like a very useful resource. Smokey looks adorable, I hope he is doing well. And I love antique keys!

Jessica Zoby

I have been just this week looking for a new approach to acquiring language skills. FluentU looks like a fun "authentic" approach to language learning. The fact that it is available as an "app" is appealing to me. This would be convenient for my busy life! Thanks for the connection!

Ally Davis

Very interesting approach! I will try almost anything different to increase my comprehension !

Susan Stafford

Fluent U seems as though it is certainly worth a try as a new key to the French language. So happy they have joined you as a sponsor also.


Looks like fun. As they say...a picture is worth a thousand words!


Love the self paced videos :)


Thanks for introducing me Fluent U. I am planning to fully check it out soon.

Tippy Spratt

Thank you for another French language resource: FluentU will add variety to learning French. There's nothing compared to full immersion(been there-done that! and highly recommended)but until my next trip FluentU will be embraced and helpful I'm sure.

Ellen Perry

I like the idea of learning with real world videos. Looks like a program that is worth exploring further. And I love those keys!!

Judith Harris

Fluent U est fantastique! Now when I need an excuse to sit down and rest, I can have fun brushing up on my French instead of playing solitaire. Gagner une cle serait fantastique aussi.

Vicky from Athens

FluentU will be a huge help to me as I try to learn enough French to navigate my way through France comfortably. I'm a "visual" learner and need to see the words being spoken. So glad to be pointed in their direction. Oh how I'd love to be the lucky winner of the antique key. First the key, then the chateau, right? Thanks for the chance to win!

Herm in Phoenix, AZ

Salut Kristin,

I'll be watching for FluentU's android version for my tablet which I use while summering in Flagstaff.

Here's a link to a poem written for Paulette and Gus after winning their key.


à plus tard

Pamela Harnois

What a wonderful app for learning French on the go! Also many thanks for your weekly words and I'm sure my French will improve greatly. Merci!


Wish I had had FluentU when I was preparing for my first trip to France a few years ago. One shop owner in Arles said to my friend (who spoke fluent French), "Thank you for learning our language."


I like that it's classified up by level (beginner, intermediate, advanced etc)and videos would be great for remembering content.


FluentU looks interesting! I plan to use it with my daughter when school gets out, as she is interested in language and our school district does not offer French (quelle horreur!!). I look forward to your posts every week!

Mary Gasch

FluentU may be the "key" to improving my skills in understanding spoken French! I like the idea of stopping videos to identify particular words. I am looking forward to practicing. (I am also looking forward to displaying a lovely French key!)

Christine Surette

Merci. Quelle bonne idée. Le clé d'apprendre le français. :-)


I would love to win a key from France.. I love French and hope to one day visit France too. Merci!


Bonjour Smokey! FluentU will help me get over the first jittery beginnings of learning more French. Merci :-)


Thank you so much for sharing this website with us!! It's marvelous! The variety of videos, how you can stop and learn more about a word, hear it pronounced...wow!! It really is a helpful key to learning. Very user friendly and free to sign up, what could be better. We will all be able to speak this beautiful language and have fun learning!!


I love the French keys! FluentU is a great idea and I love the videos. Then you are able to look up words that you don't understand. It is helpful to have it subtitled to really understand the words in the video. Sometimes words sounds similar. I am wondering about the Chinese words next to the presentation of French videos...? But I am interested in trying it. Thank you for the recommendation! I will be in France in October so I would love to enjoy a French key!

Amy Cole

Just downloaded the FluentU app! Can't wait to get started! I've tried to learn French on my own so many times, usually not getting past the greetings! I love the videos...very helpful!


Again thank you for another very visual way to learn the French language. My grandmother was from Paris but back then you came to American to be an American and to leave all remanents of your past life behind. I was never taught or spoken to in French but used to love being with her and her best friend as they spoke and spoke I. The most beautiful language ever. A French key would hang next to her picture on my wall.


Fantastic website as it helps train the ear to native French speech which is much faster than what occurs in a classroom and not static, which is what you encounter in printed lessons. This is definitely a great addition to any French learner's library. Thank you, Kristn for adding this to your website! Winning a key would be the icing on the cake. :-)

Elaine Snider

Watching the FluentU video within an hour of arising was annoying - busy music, narrator with forced 'happy' voice, fast moving clips from one to another concept of feature. Perhaps I am simply not awake enough after an hour, but this program looked like a busy, scolding, noisy approach to learning a language. "We'll remind you when it's time to review" in a fake sounding cheerful voice.
No thank you - french word a day brings me friendly, warm glimpses of life and language in France with real people in real situations. This is good.
Canned created videos with apparent actors with a background of fast paced music is an experience to which I am grateful to be able to say No!
If I were required by my job to learn a language quickly this might be good.


drole que "sponsor" c'est "sponsor" en français. Mais on peut dire aussi...


I liked Fluent U and certainly will give it a go. My original goal was
to just learn to read French but with this app I may be able to both read
and pronounce. App makes it fun as well.


I would download the app in a minute if they had it for android. Learning French is one of my lifelong ambitions.


I try not to spend much time looking at videos or screens so the idea of watching a lot of videos does not really appeal to me. However, I like that FluentU features video that are authentic. It looks like a way to not only learn the language, but to also get a sense of current culture. For me, however, columns and books such as yours, and listening to a variety of contemporary and classic French songs are the "key" to my expanding French vocabulary.

Julie Farrar

Thank you for bringing this resource to our attention. I really need to do serious review before I return in the fall. This will be a nice addition to Babbel. I started down a level lower than I probably need to, but I figure I can never have too much review. I'll be interested in seeing how much I can follow when I move up in skill level. I'm not sure where one of your readers saw all the loud language, etc. Not in the part I was looking at. Thanks for the heads up on FluentU.

And how is Smokey doing? Have I missed a report? Sending good thoughts to you as your children scatter to the wind this summer.

Carrie Willard

I believe fluentu will help me with pronunciation more than the tools I'm currently using. Thanks for the opportunity!


Hi Kristin,

I like the fact that Fluent U uses real videos so that makes it fun! I think "la clé" to learning a new language is to relax and enjoy yourself. Don't be afraid to make a mistake and spend a little time every day listening, speaking and reading. Focusing on everyday words and phrases seems to help me too!


I liked the FluentU website. I have Rosetta on discs and cannot use it on my I-pad so this is a good and portable alternative! Thanks for sharing this site with us and do give Smokey a bit BISSOUS.

Lorrie Joron

Merci pour the link. I will use the course to help me teach a multi-language multi grade course next year! French 10/11, Intro to Spanish 11 and Intro to Chinese 11.

Mervin Moore

I like the adaptation to an individual level of proficiency. This avoids a slow start in the program. Thanks Kristin.
Mervin Moore
[email protected]

Michele Bloch

I love that website! I have been using it for a few months, it's a great way to keep up with your vocabulary!!! Love the French keys, reminds me of some we had at a camp I went to in Megeve when I was young!!! J'adore votre blog!

Caroline B

Loved the commentary about "the switch" and accents. The suggestions for using 'virelanges' as pronunciation tools were great.

Kathleen from Connecticut

I just downloaded FluentU onto my IPad. I'm going to give it a whirl and see how it goes.
Love the picture of Smokey with les clés.


Amy Hazen

Thanks for introducing me to FluentU. I am thrilled about the new iphone app!

gwyn ganjeau

I am so glad to learn about FluentU! I've been using another language-learning tool, and although it's first-rate, it's still not what i was looking for. I love this more engaging, real-world approach. To learn as much about the culture and the people is as important as learning the words. thanks again!

and i'm looking forward to hearing stories about Jules' visit! :)


I like the convenience of learning anywhere with the mobile app. I'm a huge fan of old French keys as well. Love your collection!


I loved the child's eyes at the idea of learning a new language. However, I think the name "FluentU" is misleading.

I would love to win an antique key though.


The Fluent app looks interesting. I am always up for another opportunity to practice my French. Thank you for offering another key! I would cherish a key from your collection, and would forever remember Smokey's adorable "face" sitting infront of your formidable key collection! Merci!


In visiting the FluentU, I was excited to see that I could use it for learning more business French. I work with many French professors and it's so fun to speak French with them! However, I fall short in business terminology. This will help me!

Merci de partager le lien!


I am also a visual learner and don't have a very good "ear" so I like the idea of a video/subtitle combination.


FluentU looks terrific. What I miss about learning French the way I did when I lived in France is just the sound of the language and connecting the sound and the meaning. I look forward to trying the app.

lorrie gray

Enjoy your blog - thank you

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

Kristin, Did you ever write the short story (about the keys and liberty)?

I checked out FluentU. One reader mentioned it was pricey, but I saw it as free. I thought it would be an excellent way to keep connected with the language ... I have taken French 3 years (1 year 3x! 7th grade, college, at the Alliance Francaise de Chicago), pourtant, je ne parle pas toujours du français). I like someone to continually share the language. However, the terms noted information about not being responsible for computer damage which had me concerned that the videos were not first vetted for viruses so, alas, I did not sign up :(

Candy Trethewey

Real world video is a great motivator.

Trina, St. Petersburg, Florida, USA

ha ha - I lack someone (not like) to share the language with.


I thought that finding a French boyfriend would be the "Key" to learning french, ... but he hasn't shown up yet! FluentU seems like my next best option, as the combination of visual learning with interaction would be a good match for me. Merci Kristin!

Todd Williams

Thanks for the pointer to FluentU. I've been using DuoLingo and Memrise for my French instruction and they've been great. However, neither have the video format that FluentU does so this looks like a very nice additional way to accelerate with my French studies.


I like the concept of Fluent-U. I especially like the fact that there is an iPhone app! I love snatching a moment out of the day to learn! Merci, Kristin!

Nancy Lang

Love the idea of the videos; greater immersion can never hurt. Thanks for the head's up!

Karen Cafarella

What I liked the best of Fluent-U is the iPhone app. I am loving that I can do more on my iPhone especially if I am waiting somewhere. Love your keys as well.



FluentU looks like a great site! As someone who has studied and taught French language and literature, I am always thrilled to see new ways that promote language learning.

Thank you for your blog. I have enjoyed reading it for several years now. Bien à vous.


FluentU may be the "key" to continue my education in the French language; I particularly enjoy the videos and hearing the sentences as many times as I need to repeat them.


I liked the entry screen with visuals where you get to state your level of French understanding. I have never had a site check to see if I knew more than the basics.


I study French, Chinese and Turkish so I think FluentU will make a great addition to my growing list of apps for language learning. I think it is such a fantastic idea! Merci!

Betsy (Anne-Élizabeth)

I'm in! Visited and registered! I also recently found a French native tutor who lives near my home! We are arranging to meet 2-3 times per week!
Betsy Beebe
[email protected]


FluentU is just what I have been looking for. I was not having much success looking for movies and TV with Netflix and Amazon....these short bits are perfect.

Michele H

I learn best by seeing and hearing, so these videos would be perfect for me. That way I can maybe pronounce the French language a little more accurately! Ha! I also like that you can "rewind" and go back and rehear or see something you missed or didn't hear correctly!


The short videos on an everyday slice of French life will be engaging and helpful in my quest to learn French. Being able to hear the words and go back to repeat them makes it a customized lesson.


Could definitely boost my French skills, love that it combines the written word with the speaking - very important for me. Very visual. Thank you for sharing this with us - and for the opportunity to win one of your precious keys!

Art Moreau

Nice to see a program that allows us to learn the language in context. It should be very useful!

Susan Carter

Would love a French key and I love the idea of learning while watching videos and hearing the correct pronunciation.

Linda D.

I love that Fluent U uses real videos and that I can choose the type I want to swim in - business, entertainment, etc. An antique French key slipped beneath my pillow would lead me to a dreams of an ancient French gate to a beautiful chateau. Oh, yes, please!

Kristen Lumsden

Keys!! Why are they so magical? FluentU looks like an entertaining and useful way to get results learning French (although I'm a little confused about all the Chinese examples in the photos...). The video concept is great--I imagine that being able to see visual context, body language, even lip movement, would be more helpful to me than the cassettes I used to listen to, straining to catch the nuances in the transitions of sound between words. I also really like the ability to get the definitions of words through the closed captioning. The only thing I don't like is having to wait for an Android version of the app!


Great idea to be able to learn online with videos and audio. I have already clicked on Facebook and Twitter so that I can do this. Thanks for sharing. Frances in Napa, California.

Devra Long

I visited Fluent U; really need to get serious about improving my French; planning a trip to Toulouse this Fall!!!

Sari Hotchkiss

FluentU seems to offer what I crave in a language-learning situation-to go at my own pace and to pause and repeat. I plan to use it.

When I saw your keys, I thought, those would make a nice wind chime or garden sculpture. Maybe just hang them from tree limbs. Of course, they are beautiful as they are on the old wooden board. I'd love to see their permanent "shadow" on the board.

How is Smoky doing?

Christina Hill

FluentU - very cool! I forwarded it to my son who would like to learn French (but not from his mother ' -)) and who has an iPhone - wish it were on droids :( Good to know I can receive it through other sources (email, Facebook). Thank you for sharing this!

And, it's soooooo nice to see your antique keys out again. Just love them, reminds me of what my grandmother would have hanging by her door in our little village. : )

Christopher Graham

Thanks for the link to FluentU. I have downloaded it to my iPhone to help me with my French. Merci!

Marshall Brass

I like the calibration of learning levels....often hard to find "upper intermediate" level which suits me best.

Marshall Brass

I like the calibration of learning levels....itis often hard to find "upper intermediate" which suits me best.

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