fide Test Success Stories: Michael Moore

Michael is a retired IT engineer now focusing on developing two passions: vegan pastry and catering as well as scuba diving. He already speaks multiple languages including English, German, and Japanese. Although his French is already good enough, he needed help in preparing for his fide test to renew his Permis B. He completed his fide test in May 2021 and scored 100% in both the Écouter and Lire sections.

Your Super Prof and the whole Prêt à Parler are super proud of your achievement! Toutes nos félicitations, Michael!

Here is what he has to say about his experience learning online and preparing for his exam with us:

"Whatever your goals or needs are, Prêt à Parler will get you ready. The whole learning experience for me was comfortable. My Super Prof walked me through one of the reading and writing scenarios and I was able to use my time very efficiently during my fide exam because I was already familiar with the format. My investment in paying for the private lessons has absolutely paid off. I have recommended your services to other expats!"


Isabelle: Bonjour tout le monde! Bienvenue à notre deuxième histoire de succès à la préparation fide : Alors, fide Test Success Stories. Et aujourd’hui, nous accueillons Michael Moore qui a passé son examen fide de niveau A1 le 21 mai 2021. Il nous a contactés et trouvés sur les réseaux sociaux. C’est sa femme qui a entendu parlé de nous!

Et il a passé son examen fide pour renouveler son Permis B. Comme vous le savez, les pré-requis pour pouvoir rester en Suisse, pour renouveler ou obtenir un permis de travail ou encore la naturalisation suisse, ont changé en janvier 2019. Et justement, c’est la raison pour laquelle Michael nous a contactés parce qu'il devait passer son examen fide de niveau A1. On est vraiment ravis qu’il soit avec nous!

Bonjour, Michael, vous allez bien?

Michael: Bonjour! Je suis… Pardon, bonjour!

Isabelle: Bonjour, je vais bien! Qui, je vais bien!

Michael: Bien. Et vous? 

Isabelle: Oui, je vais très bien également. Merci beaucoup pour votre temps aujourd’hui, Michael. Vraiment, c’est un plaisir. Ça fait déjà un petit moment! That was in May la dernière fois! Alors, est-ce que vous pourriez vous présenter, Michael, s'il vous plait?

Michael: Okay, uh. Je m’appelle Michael Moore, je suis américain. Je suis arrivé en Suisse le 5 juillet 2017 du Japon.

Isabelle: Ah oui, directement de Kobe au Japon. 

Michael: Kobe, yeah. J’habite ici depuis 5 ans.

Isabelle: Et puis, qu’est-ce que vous faites comme travail, Michael?

Michael: Je suis… um... J’ai travaillé comme ingénieur en systèmes informatiques pendant trente et un (31) ans. 

Isabelle: Ah oui! Ingénieur en systèmes informatiques pendant trente et un (31) ans et maintenant, qu’est-ce que vous faites de votre temps?

Michael: Je suis instructeur de plongée sous-marine et cuisinier et pâtissier végan.

Isabelle: Vegan, j’ai vu que vous aviez un site Instagram, un profil Instagram qu’on va partager… Ça s’appelle 42 Michael Moore. C'est bien ça?

Michael: Or 42_vegan_cuisine.

Isabelle: Ah parfait, on va partager alors. 42_vegan_cuisine. Super, très bien, ça m’a l’air délicieux. Everything looks absolutely delicious, vraiment. Et instructeur de plongée sous-marine, c'est dans le lac Léman, vous faites ça dans le lac Léman?

Michael: Non… J’ai deux combinaisons étanches (waterproof), mais je ne plonge pas dans le Lac Léman.

Isabelle: Non, pas dans le Lac Léman. En vacances, alors, vous plongez dans l’eau chaude?

Michael: Non, sous la glace, mais pas ici. Non, ce n’est pas possible ici.

Isabelle: Merci beaucoup pour cette présentation, thank you so much! We're going to switch to English now because we're going to talk about your experience. No problem, I just wanted to highlight how brave we often have to be when we speak a foreign language because it takes you know a lot of our own confidence. We don't always feel comfortable, especially with the pronunciation.

I was discussing this with Michael before, I'm from Montreal in Canada and as a native French speaker, there are plenty of pronunciation issues I might have myself, even though my mother tongue is French because the pronunciation is different here. So I was just telling Michael that here it took me a while. I was always saying ... properly, but I would say [French word] and people say ... here so you know even for the native speakers, we make pronunciation mistakes. So well done to you, Michael.

I have my next question. Why did you have to pass the fide exam? Can you tell me more about it?

Michael: My wife is employed in Switzerland, but I am not and to renew my permis B, they changed the laws and so I had to actually demonstrate proficiency in French or in the language of the Canton. So and I live in Canton of Vaud so I had to had to demonstrate in French.

Isabelle: And how was your French at the time? Did you have level A1 at the time? Were you able to get by?

Michael: Well theoretically, but I guess I'm the typical American that just has no confidence speaking a foreign language and thankfully I found, my wife found you because I was completely unprepared for that FIDE so I thought, I mean I had a paper saying I would say one, but I don't think I would have passed without you.

Isabelle: Was there a reason in particular that you reached out to us? Was it to specifically prepare for the oral part of the exam?

Michael: Well, for the whole thing 'cause they said I had to do oral and written.

Isabelle: And the written and the comprehension as well. Yes, exactly. And at the time you worked with our Super Marion, how was it to work with her?  How did you feel when you were learning and improving your French with her?

Michael: Comfortable, which is very important for when you're learning a language. I felt very comfortable. I've had some teachers in other languages that were not. I did not feel comfortable and she specifically pointed me to specific things for the fide.

But of course, you know fide is just demonstrating that you can get by anyway, so it's she was helping me with the test, but that was helping me to actually talk to bus drivers and train operators and so it was good.

Isabelle: So the preparation had a positive impact not only for your fide exam but also for your everyday life. Because these were everyday situations and vocabulary and verb tenses that you needed to use anyways in your daily life.

Michael: I'm still in present tense but yes.

Isabelle: We can move forward with the past and future, but it's true for the fide A1, it doesn't require as much verb tenses as it does for the A2 and B1. There's a big step between the two, but for the A1 it's basically introducing yourself and talking a little bit about what you do more or less in the present tense.

Uhm, how did you feel about your fide exam before you were with us and after doing the preparation program with us?

Michael: Before I didn't know what I didn't know, so that that's difficult ‘cause it's like I have no idea I should be OK. But I'm not really sure. And then once I started with Marion. I was realizing, wow, there's a lot of stuff here that I was not ready for, and so she - you know we, through vocabulary lists, scenarios, umm what would you say when this happens? And we went to extensively into renting an apartment. You know, is there a bathroom? You know, that's yeah, and so which just helps in everyday life here anyway.

Isabelle: Absolutely, you could put that, you could use that knowledge in your everyday life and so you got the idea of the format of the exam. Which would you say is vital in order to pass the exam to know the format to prepare for these typical questions?

Michael: I would have been completely lost going in there cold. Completely lost because they bring you into a room and there's two people there and they you know, first you have to introduce yourselves and they little chit chat for a while. How comfortable are you and it's also to calm down your nerves because, you know you're nervous, and you know, so they're calming you down and then they show you the picture and you go through that. Then they move you to another room for listening, just listening and that one was good because on your website you have some listening exercises, so I had gone through those. And listened to them. So I was comfortable with that. And then there was a break for lunch and then we went to the reading and writing. That was that was interesting.

Isabelle: So that was quite a long process. You had to be focused for quite a while. And what would you say was most helpful for you in the preparation process that you've done with Prêt à Parler? 

Michael: The oral, the oral and speaking because I got A2 on my writing so you know I'm more comfortable writing and reading than I am speaking, and French is very difficult to learn for me. My Japanese is still far better than my French, and Japanese is very easy. It's more upbeat and umm so it's kind of musical. But French, you know they drop the letters and you're not sure when they pronounce it or how to pronounce it - every word.

And so just speaking with a French speaker and with COVID it was so hard to just go out and talk to people because you know, if you could, they were masked up so I have been around too many loud noises, guitars and cars and stuff so that I didn't realize how much I depended on reading lips until everybody had a mask.

Isabelle: And on that matter, Michael, when you did the exam, would the examiner have a mask then or behind a screen?

Michael: No they didn't. They were behind.

Isabelle: Ah, that makes so much more sense. Thank God. So you could still see their face, their facial expression, their lips moving when they were asking a question.

Michael: And when they did the side eye to each other and go, oh God, what'd I do wrong this time then but then you know then but you know, they'll give you a side eye.

Isabelle: So would you say that it's possible to prepare for the fide A1 by yourself for the written part, the comprehension part, let's say you find the exam on the Internet, but for the oral part you would recommend having support. If you're not there yet, or you're not confident or comfortable enough in French.

Michael: I don't think I would have even done well on the written if I hadn't gone through you.

Isabelle: Because it's the whole process.

Michael: Because it's the whole process. I didn't know where they were going with this and you know, and I looked online. And I looked at some YouTube videos, but it's not the same thing as you know on your website. You've got the documentation. This is what you need to do, like you'll get for the writing and reading. Fill in the blank kind of thing.

Isabelle: Yeah, exactly, so you were prepared to answer the typical scenario questions and what you did with us was a kind of a real preparation, or of a very similar question. So then we went for the real thing on the big day, then you felt "Oh, I've done this before, I can do this". It's a different question, but I feel comfortable. I know the format. I know how to answer. And I can do this.

Michael: And Marion, walked me through one of the reading writing scenarios just like what I saw. So when I saw it, it's like "Oh yeah, I know this!", you know fill in the blanks, and... I would probably still be in there struggling. Just trying to figure out why the question didn't match up to what they had put in there.

Isabelle: Exactly, so you were able to use your time very efficiently because you knew why this format was like that. You were not thrown off by it and losing precious time or during the exam because you had prepared for it.

Michael: Yes, right when you go in cold on those things you know, if you're unprepared you're not gonna... Unless you're fluent, you're not going to pass.

Isabelle: And sometimes, even when you're fluent, we were discussing this with our teachers here. Here we are saying some of the questions are tricky because of the way they ask the questions. We are not always sure we would pass the exam ourselves because there's a certain way you have to answer the questions. There's a certain way you need to understand their questions as well. And on the other hand what we are happy about is that there's this specific exam for Switzerland. Before, most expats had to do the DELF exam, which is much harder. And it's a different reality, and it's the French version which is not always about everyday life. So it's a real chance, in fact, that we have that fide exam and the fact that the examiner here in Switzerland really want you to do well. So they give you a bit more time. They're smiling, they're reassuring. Do you want to hear the listening again?

So I think they want to make the whole experience as positive as possible. So you pass the exam. But the best ways to prepare also for it though.

Michael: And one of the other things that I want to mention about the writing is we depend so much on technology now to do our writing. Yeah, you know the auto corrects and everything but they give you a sheet of paper and you have to write everything out and it was like at first, I just like how do you spell this? And yeah, where's the accent and I'm certain that they take off something for the wrong accents or the definitely for the misspellings and so you need to practice writing things out. Yeah, and then check with the auto correct. But don't depend on the auto correct 'cause you can't use it in the test.

Isabelle: No exactly, you need to remember the spelling. Yeah, that's one key. French is tricky for the spelling especially. So some people get by the oral part because they are good with remembering the sounds and for others the tricky part is the written part so everybody has their own challenges with the various sections of the exam. Can you tell me Michael when and where did you pass the fide exam? We know when we know it's the 21st of May 2021, but where was it that you did the exam?

Michael: Uh, Inlingua.

Isabelle: Inlingua, and that was in Lausanne?

Michael: It was in Bel-Air just above Lausanne.

Isabelle: Okay, Super! And you felt the examiners, they were very nice and they were there to help you, to support you during the exam.

Michael: They were very professional. The contact was interesting because we corresponded, but then she was confused about something so she called me up and she started speaking French to me and I wasn't picking up a lot of some of those scheduling and complicated, she switched to English and I was like where are you from wow! She goes, I hear that a lot she goes everybody thinks I'm American, but I'm Swiss. But she had like an American Northwest part of the kind of like Oregon or Washington state accent. I don't know how she got that.

Isabelle: And you know that's the wonderful thing, because when you do the exam for the DELF in France, it's very rare that someone will speak English to you to help you. And that's the beauty I find about Switzerland. They really make the effort to make you feel comfortable, so that was probably something reassuring for you in the in the whole experience, right?

Michael: Yes. And then all the examiners. Very professional, very friendly. Again, they weren't gonna give you anything, but they weren't, they weren't looking to fail you.

Isabelle: Exactly, they wanted you to do well so they were not putting any sticks in your wheels, let's say to make you fall. Super! And you succeeded, so you got level A1 for the speaking part, for the oral part, and then A2 for the written part.


Isabelle: Yes. Congratulations again, félicitations Michael.

Michael: Yeah, I was pleased with the writing. I kind of stumble speaking anyway, so... I knew that was going to be more difficult.

Isabelle: And especially with the stress of the exam, you know in a class it's always more relaxed. You have the teacher. You know the person and in this exam situation the stress level is much higher and that's why it's great to choose an examination center where you know the examiners will be, you know, there to almost calm you down and just ask the question in a different way. Speak slowly as well. So that's you got a positive experience. I'm so glad to hear it.

Michael: Yes, positive. And there was quite a few people taking the test that day. And from all over the world who was interesting, you know. It's like a United Nations in the waiting room.

Isabelle: Now that you got your Permis B that you renewed, is that on the cards to get your family, say in the future and maybe your Swiss naturalization for you, Michael?

Michael: I think yes. And so I know I need a lot more work with my French.

Isabelle: And probably for your own business that you're developing as well with the vegan catering that would also be a way to expand your clientèle to have more French speakers and not only the expat community that was something good as well, huh?

What would you like to tell other expats who are hesitating at the moment to take online private lessons with Prêt à Parler?

Michael: The whole experience, just, it's comfortable and will get you ready and whether you want to or not, you've got to take the test, and if you have to, if you must take the test, you need to be ready for it and you can look online you can look at YouTube, but it's not gonna get you ready for these tests. Because once like when we sat down to do the reading and then the writing, that was rapid fire French, and if you didn't know what they wanted you to do, like where you want there, they wanted you to put your name and stuff you would, you would have difficulties so...

Isabelle: Would you say that your investment paid off?

Michael: Oh, absolutely. Investing in the private lessons.

Isabelle: So would you recommend it to other expats?

Michael: Yes, and I have.

Isabelle: Thank you so much Michael.

Michael: Thank you for having me.

Isabelle: I want to recommend you as well. I haven't tried your delicious vegan pastries and specialties, but from what I see on your IG profile it looks absolutely gorgeous. I can only invite everyone who's watching to look at what Michael is doing. And you make even beautiful croissants that are that can be stored in the freezer, and then you just put them in the oven and they're perfect for parties and your catering as well. So I highly recommend that you check out 42_vegan_cuisine. That's correct?

Michael: Yes.

Isabelle: And if you have any questions about what Michael does, you can send him a private message on Instagram. Michael, I will definitely want to try your vegan ... cuts and your delicious ... and croissants in the future. I will be in touch.

But in the meantime, thank you so much for your time today and for sharing your success story with other expats. And I just wish you all the best with this new part. Now going towards Permis C, the naturalisation in the future, but especially focusing on what you love most, cooking vegan food. Merci beaucoup! À très bientôt, Michael

Michael: Merci! Bonne journée!

Isabelle: Bonne journée!

Disclaimer: Prêt à Parler CH does not carry out fide tests and is not yet accredited for any of the fide procedures. However, our team of Super Profs has been helping our clients to successfully pass their fide test in Suisse romande since January 2019. Our online preparation program for the fide test, blog articles, social media posts and videos are meant to help fide applicants better understand and prepare for their exam.

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