fide Test Success Stories: Mykhailo Doubinsky

In this series, our CEO Isabelle Nicolas discusses with Mykhailo Doubinsky about his successful exam preparation which led him to obtain his fide Passeport des langues in October 2023.

Mykhailo was born in Kyiv, Ukraine, where he's lived for most of his life. He moved to Switzerland 10 years ago with his family. He works as a lawyer in an LtD company and has been living in Saint-Sulpice near Lausanne. Initially he contacted us to prepare for the fide B1 oral exam, but even after successfully passing the test he chose to continue studying with us until complete French fluency.

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


Isabelle: Bonjour, bonjour tout le monde et bienvenue à un autre FIDE Success Story. Cette fois-ci, nous sommes avec Mykhailo Doubinsky et nous sommes vraiment ravis de l'avoir parmi nous. Il a récemment passé son examen FIDE. Et puis, il a pris des cours chez Prêt à Parler avec nous. Et donc, il a bien voulu partager son expérience avec nous aujourd'hui.

Mykhailo, comment allez-vous ce matin?

Mykhailo: Bonjour Isabelle, bonjour à tous. Moi, je vais bien, merci. C'est tout. Je suis en forme.

Isabelle: Vous êtes en forme. Ça, ça fait plaisir à entendre. Surtout avec cette température on est au mois de mars. Il pleut. On aimerait bien que le soleil sorte et ce n'est pas le cas. Alors, vous, vous gardez toujours le moral. Vous êtes toujours de bonne humeur, Michael. Bravo à vous.

Mykhailo: Merci, merci Isabelle.

Isabelle: Mykhailo, vouz nous avez contacter en julliet 2023 pour vouz preparez à l'examen fide, et vous avez pris 20 leçons avec nous. Ensuite, vous faites en ce moment le cours de groupe de conversation en ligne avec moi depuis le mois de février. Et c'est un grand plaisir de travailler avec vous. Est-ce qu'après cette présentation, vous pourriez vous-même vous présenter en français et parler un petit peu de vous-même

Mykhailo: Alors, je m'appelle Mykhailo Doubinsky, je suis ukrainien, je suis né à Kyiv, j'ai vécu à Kyiv presque toute ma vie. Nous sommes arrivés en Suisse il y a dix ans, maintenant j'habite à Saint-Sulpice près de Lausanne. Je suis juriste, je travaille comme directeur du pays de France dans une société anonyme. Je parle ukrainien, russe, anglais et un peu français. 

Isabelle: Oui, un peu plus qu'un peu français quand même. Vous êtes humble. Moi, j'aimerais revenir sur la prononciation parce que c'est quelque chose que j'aime beaucoup, surtout pour votre ville natale. Vous venez de Kiev. Alors, pour le prononcer… 

Mykhailo: Non, c'est beaucoup de différence parce que nous changeons notre langue pour l'ukrainien. En ukrainien, c'est Kyiv, ce n'est pas de Kiev. C'est l'officiel, la translittération s'est déjà changée, mais tout le document officiel, c'est très important pour nous.

Isabelle: Eh bien, j'apprends en même temps. Alors, merci beaucoup. Moi, je suis toujours quelqu'un qui aime apprendre. Donc, depuis combien de temps on doit dire « Kyiv » et non « Kiev »?

Mykhailo: « Kiev », c'est en russe. En Ukraine, la prononciation en Ukraine, c'est « Kyiv ».

Isabelle: « Kyiv »,  d'accord. Et donc, en français, il faudrait dire aussi « Kyiv».

Mykhailo: C'est « K-Y-I-V ».

Isabelle: D'accord. Alors, « K-Y-I-V », « Kyiv».

Mykhailo: Oui, exactement.

Isabelle: Ok. D'accord. Bon, ben ça, c'est très important.

Merci pour cette précision. Mykhailo, est-ce que je prononce bien votre nom aussi quand je le dis? Mykhailo, c'est bien comme ça?

Mykhailo: Oui, Mykhailo, c'est en ukrainien. En anglais, c'est Michael, en français, c'est Michel, Michael en anglais. Mais en ukrainien, c'est Mykhailo.

Isabelle: « Mykhailo », d'accord.

Bon, bien, on va garder en ukrainien parce que ça, c'est votre langue d'identité première. Et pour nous, chez Prêt à Parler, bien sûr qu'on vous enseigne le français et la bonne prononciation, mais pour le nom, on va garder « Mykhailo », parce que ça, c'est votre vrai nom.

Donc, we're going to switch to English so that all our subscribers can understand. They don't have the same good level of French as you have. So my first question for you, in English, would be why did you decide to pass your FIDE B1 exam, B1 oral and A2 written? What was the idea?

Mykhailo: It was several reasons for me. First of all, if you know, it was, there is a requirement of Swiss regulation since 2018. Uh, each foreigner must have the passport du langue, each foreigner must pass the exam de fide. And I'm a lawyer, and I'm always following the legal requirement.

The second reason I want to evaluate myself, because I am able to, to do some conversation with, in my work, in my Everyday life in the shop, in post, etc, etc. But I need to understand where I am staying, which level I have.

And the third reason for me it's a challenge. And I wanted to overcome it, so this is why I decided to, to pass the FIDE exam.

Isabelle: Absolutely. And that is a reason that many other expats will have. So many people who are living in Switzerland, they've been here for over five or ten years, and they are faced with the challenge of learning French. So they have to pass this exam, not only to get the work permit, but also to feel more comfortable in their daily life.

Mykhailo: Exactly, exactly.

It was just a moment. I just to say that the fide exam is not my final goal. This is why I continue to study French because I want to be fluent in French. I want to watch TV. I want to understand the sketch in the humor, stand up show, etc. So I'm going to continue studing French, but the FIDE exam is a, is a basis which I obtained and I'm really happy.

Isabelle: It's the first step for many people to start with and to also realize actually this is really nice to be able to speak French at a deeper level, to feel more comfortable in your daily life.

Can you tell me, Mykhailo, had you learned French before contacting us at Prêt à Parler? Could you speak French a little bit before you contacted us?

Mykhailo: I didn't really study French in Switzerland because I didn't have a lot of time. And for my written exam, because I, firstly I have passed my written exam. And for written exam, I did the preparation on my own, without any teacher, without anything. I just read a lot, and did a lot of exercise, etc. And I have passed the exam.

But when I look to the program for the oral exam, I really understand that I am not able to do the good preparation for this exam without support. So this is why I start to check the possibility and I start to check the company which will will be able to assist me in a good preparation.

Isabelle: Absolutely, and so many of our subscribers who will be listening to us today, many of you are very smart, very intelligent people. You can learn French by yourself. There are so many applications, so many ways and methods to learn French online or offline from a book.

But then when you are faced with the speaking part, I personally believe that there is nothing which will replace the human interaction with a teacher, someone who knows the language, who knows how to correct the pronunciation and also someone who knows the culture behind the language, because in the francophone world there are many different differences if you live in Quebec, like where I'm from, if you live in Switzerland, if you live in France, if you live in Belgium.

So it's also important to know the cultural references and the etiquette behind.

So tell me, Mykhailo, why did you reach out to Prêt à Parler to prepare for your FIDE exam?

Mykhailo: I checked the market. I asked with my friends, I asked my colleagues, and I always try to find the best solution when I'm looking for something. I checked the market, and I found the service Prêt à Parler which was exactly what I'm looking for.

The second thing, I saw some video for the language in YouTube. And I understand that this company clearly understand what they are proposed. And I understand that this is exactly what I am looking for. This is why I decide to join the Prêt à Parler service and I am really happy with the service.

Isabelle: And we are so delighted to have been able to help you to prepare successfully, especially successfully for your exam. I'm so glad to hear this feedback, because we've been doing this, you know, we've created the preparation program in 2018 when the exam had just started. It's been almost 5 years now.

And we're always trying to improve our services. So it's really nice to hear a good feedback like that from you, and especially to see that it was successful for you as well.

Mykhailo: I can say use it. It was the only proposition on the market, only proposition for exactly preparation for the FIDE exam because a lot of proposition to study French, a lot of proposition for do the preparation for any other test like DALF, DELF, etc, etc. But I'm looking for exactly for FIDE exam. Exactly for oral exam and it was the only proposition and I suggest that you did a good job for marketing.

Isabelle: Oh, thank you so much.

Mykhailo: Because your your target is exactly great.

Isabelle: Well, I saw that there was a lack of offer on the market, and I saw that many language schools in Switzerland are offering the face to face lessons, but nothing for the preparation online. So that's why I thought many of us are very busy. We have a busy life with family. It's hard to get to a physical place and spend two or three hours every week when you can find the efficiency of the online method.

And when you see how we work at Prêt à Parler, I think it's worth investing your time and your money in our services.

So, Mykhailo, tell me when and here did you pass your FIDE exam and what were the results?

Mykhailo: I passed the exam last October in Lausanne, and I've got, I passed the B1 level, and I've got the score of 84%, from the first attempt. I have one friend, she is trying three times to pass the exam, but unfortunately without success.

But I'm really happy that I have passed the exam from the first attempt, and I received a quite high score for my point of view.

Isabelle: I think it's very important to highlight the fact that Mykhailo is a very good student as well. He's very dedicated. He puts the effort in. So, of course, we can be offering really good resources, but if you don't put the effort and the time and the commitment and the practice into it, that will have a bad impact on your results as well. So, well done to you.

Especially when we're motivated, we want, we have a specific goal, passing an exam with the idea of getting the Swiss naturalization. That of course is something that will motivate us and make sure that we spend as much time as possible dedicated to improving your French.

I know that you've done many, so you've done 20 lessons with our Super Prof Yohann. Can you tell me how useful this exam preparation program was for you?

Mykhailo: It was absolutely brilliant. It was absolutely fantastic. First of all, I would like to say that Yohann is a really professional and I can say that he is a really talented teacher. He is able to teach. And, why I choose, why I have chosen Yohann, because I saw several videos from all of you, Super Prof, and I have chosen Yohann because I saw a lot of video for the preparation for exactly for oral exam.

And Yohann gave me a lot of exercises, and I feel that he has prepared a special program for me. He understood my level from the first lesson, and he told me that I am able to pass an exam, and I feel I trust him.

This is very important, because I trust him, and I was able to just concentrate on my teaching and, I transfer my responsibility to Yohann, and this is very important. So, I'm really happy. I have no, I hope that other Super Profs are so the same well as Yohann, but I have chosen Yohann, and I'm happy with my choice. Absolutely fantastic guy.

Isabelle: Oh, I'm so, so glad to hear that Mykhailo. You know, Yohann was one of the first of our teachers to specialize in the FIDE. Now all of our teachers are specialized really in the preparation for the FIDE exam.

We have Brice, who also did his FIDE examiner license. I'm doing it at the moment as well. But everybody's very knowledgeable of the FIDE, all the scenarios, all the preparation. But it's true that Yohann did spend a lot of time. He was the one who created, co created with Brice, our FIDE preparation course online. So that's why we see him a lot.

Mykhailo: I saw also a lot of video with Brice and Marine, if I remember, but, firstly, I saw the video with Yohann, where he explained exactly how to pass an exam for B1. And for me, it was really useful. And I clearly understand the pronunciation of Yohann, etc.

So, I have chosen Yohann, but I understand that Brice and other colleagues are also quite good.

Isabelle: Well, the most important thing for us at Prêt à Parler, it really is that we focus on you. So that's why the curriculum is not set. It's always personalized.

During the first lesson that we do, we analyze your level of French. We see where you're at, where the little recurrent mistakes happen, where we need to reinforce the grammatical points or a vocabulary which needs to be reinforced as well. And that's really based on that first trial lesson or first lesson that we create the plan for you. So each program is a little bit different because it's really personalized. 

And the second point is that we really create trust. When you feel like you can trust your teacher, you feel comfortable, you feel you're in a positive environment, that's when you open up, you make great progress. Because if you're scared of making mistakes, that's when you don't really do as well when you're, especially when you have to improve your speaking skills.

So the trust is exactly something which is at the core of our mission here at the core of our methodology at Prêt à Parler, so thank you for bringing this up.

Tell me, Mykhailo, how did you feel about the FIDE exam  before contacting us, and after doing the preparation program with us? What was the most helpful thing for you with the program?

Mykhailo: The most helpful for me, as I told you already, I transfer my responsibility to you all. This is why I was absolutely calm. And I just practiced my French. My feeling is that we always, pay just for transfer of responsibility.

For example, if we going to the doctor or if we going to the attorney at law, we very often we don't need exactly the information because, for example, my wife know everything about illness, but we go to the doctor just for transfer the responsibility.

The same I'm attorney at law and a lot of in Ukraine and a lot of my clients went to me just for transfer their responsibility to me for the court case or for the result, etc.

So before the study with the pressure of Prêt à Parler, the responsibility was on my head. And you teach, I transfer the responsibility and I was able to concentrate in my studyng what this is the main goal.

And now to think, I met a lot of exercises. I got a lot of information in once in one source. I don't just spend time with Yohann. I read and I view a lot of information from your site. It's really useful. It's a lot of video. It's a lot of sources for study French, and I use for all the possibility which I gave according to subscription to your service.

So, I combined the lesson with Yohann with the information from your site, from other sources. But what I can advice you, what I can told you for improving your service if you are interested, the biggest problem which I met on the exam was not a speaking, but a comprehension. But a listening. And if you, your company, the name of your company, Prêt à Parler. But the exam consists from two parts. Parler and comprehension. And I really need more practice in comprehension.

And what can I advise you? Improve your service and add another part for better comprehension. Because it's not easy, especially for a level B1. Because, as you know, there is no possibility to choose the right answer for B1. It's necessary to speak exact answers. Sometimes it's not easy, especially with a special vocabulary.

For example, I have the exercise, from hospital with a lot of medical, special terms and it was not easy for me.

Isabelle: I can imagine.

Mykhailo: So my advice for your company to improve, you can improve your service at the part of Preparation for comprehension, because unfortunately is not able just to pass an exam or with part of parler. It's necessary to have a knowledge in the second part.

Isabelle:  Thank you so much. It's really important for me to get some input and feedback, especially with your needs, you know that it's so important. We will look with the team.

We have a great pedagogical team with all the teachers and we'll see how many listening examples we have when we prepare. We usually have a quite a lot, but it's true that depending on the curriculum that the teacher has decided for you, especially maybe you were doing very well with the comprehension and that's why the teacher hasn't focused as much on that.

But that's definitely something that we're taking on and I will discuss with the teachers. Thank you so much.

Mykhailo: Another note for you. Yohann proposed me a lot of samples of the previous exam, a lot of, pictures, etc. But as I understand is it was just his private collection or the information which he gave from the previous students, etc. I was really wondering why FIDE is so close organization. Why there is no possibility, for example, to study the previous exams, etc.

Because as you know, on the side of FIDE, there is available only one set of exam. I don't know, maybe it make a sense, but from my point of view, I recommend you try to negotiate with FIDE, for example, for obtaining a license from FIDE, I mean, for example, the same service like the preparation for driver license.

I pass an exam for driver license in Switzerland, and I find the monitor who has a license that buys a service of, after auto service of Canton Vaud. It means that he has how to teach. So, from my point of view, I understand that FIDE is not in position to disseminate a lot of information with the public, but maybe if you discuss with them that you as a specialized organization, because from my point of view, they're interested in a good preparation for the exam.

Isabelle: Absolutely.

Mykhailo: So my, my idea is to try to negotiate with FIDE, try to obtain the license and try to obtain more official information about previous exam, etc. So it is ongoing.

Isabelle: That's a very valid point. This is why a lot of people are contacting us because they cannot find much information. There's only one mock fide exam available on the market. In the past, we have created some mock fide exam based on the most common scenarios, which are all available on the fide official webpage.

And so if you are looking for extra resources, it's very hard to find. There's only 1 official, and then the fide institution doesn't allow anyone to publicize or to promote other mock fide exams, but we do have them internally. So, when you take private lessons with us, we have a selection of quizzes, which are not exactly the same of course, we don't have any of the real exams, it's not allowed. That wouldn't be an ethical possibility.

But it is true that the resources to practice are quite small if you don't go with a private tutor. I don't know how it works with other language schools, but for us here at Prêt à Parler, we've got a wide selection of exercises and mock exams, which we use privately, but we're not allowed to put them online anymore.

We've been a little bit told off because we were sharing too much information, which is too bad because I thought, that it should be accessible to everybody, these practice exams. So it makes it easier and it's more accessible to make progress, but that's not the wish of the FIDE institution and we have to respect that.

So if you want to have more resources, I encourage you to contact us. We definitely have a lot.

Mykhailo: Okay.

Isabelle: Thank you so much. So you've done 20 lessons. You started in July, 2023. And can you tell me what has changed with regards to your French since you started, almost, not quite a year ago? Do you feel, how confident you feel with your French now, as opposed to when you started before you were  working with Prêt à Parler?

Mykhailo: I start to speak because when I started to teach I was not, I was able just to, to pronounce some words without any connection. I improve my oral abilities for use the grammar, for use of tense, I improve my vocabulary, etc. So, the difference was so great. And I really happy that I took 20 lessons. For me it was enough for good preparation for an exam. It was not enough for great comprehension, but, as I told you, it was not a goal of my teaching.

But Yohann recommend me several sites, several source of information from C'est Facile, etc. And I do it my site. But for speaking ability, I really improve my French, and it was great result. I'm sure that without lessons, I would not be able to do it because, in speaking ability it's very important to have feedback. It's very important that another, that the teacher could confirm or improve your pronunciation because it's not possible to discuss with computer or with any other program.

By the way, I try to use a program Busuu, if you know, it's a quite interesting program and I use it in my, this program in my smartphone. But it's just artificial. It's just artificial and my feelings that they mostly oriented for English speaking Franco.

Isabelle: Right.

Mykhailo: For French, not by, to the real, the original French pronunciation.

Isabelle: Hmm. Right, right, right. So there are also some lags or some, it's not quite there yet in terms of improving the pronunciation. Maybe one day, maybe one day they will get there, but for now it is not there yet. But I really, I'm someone who really encourages to use applications and AI.

Even I think AI, like chatGPT, if you have to write an email, and you're not really sure that your own email style is good in French, I highly encourage that you use chatGPT and then you have a good, you know, a higher quality format of emails or text that you have to write for a motivation letter as well. And then you learn. ChatGPT can teach you as well.

Okay, that's how I would form the sentence. I think right now ChatGPT is really advanced in English. In French, it's done some very good things. There are still a few little mistakes here and there, so I wouldn't trust it a hundred percent for French. It's always good to ask a real person, so a teacher, to review the texts that ChatGPT has created because there are mistakes and these are obvious ones that someone, when reading the letter, will find, okay, they used someone else or they used the computer to write the letter.

Mykhailo: So yeah, but, but to the chatGPT is not possible to transfer the responsibility.

Isabelle: For writing it works, but not for designing a course or having the interaction with someone who will, you know, design the course as they are hearing, as they see your progress, as they hear.

A little like for grammar about passé composé, l'imparfait. ChatGPT doesn't do that, or the AI don't do that yet. That's only a human intelligence that we have, but that is a very good debate. This is something I'm very interested in because I really think we need the support of AI to move forward in this fast paced life. And it's not something to forget. There's a lot... In a positive way.

Mykhailo: It's, it's our future.

Isabelle: Absolutely. 

Mykhailo: It's a future of a lot of fields of knowledge.

Isabelle: I think it should make our life easier. If it makes our life more complicated or stressful, it's not a good thing, but if it makes our life easier and we have more time to do the things that we want and to spend time with our family, I think we should go for it. It's very important, but to spend time in the real life is also important.

Mykhailo, I invite you to express yourself in your mother tongue in Ukrainian, and I'm going to ask the question in English, and feel free to answer it in Ukrainian, so your fellow Ukrainians will understand if they don't speak English at a good level.

Okay, we do not speak Ukrainian at Prêt à Parler, unfortunately, but we are very good at teaching, non English speakers as well. So please, please know that we are here for you as well. So tell me, what would you like to tell other expats who are hesitating to take online private lessons with us at Prêt à Parler?

Mykhailo: Okay. I will respond in Ukrainian because I know that unfortunately a lot of Ukrainians have to stay in Switzerland at the moment. And most of them need some assistance. Need some help. So I will respond in Ukrainian.

Dear compatriots, I know that quite a lot of you are forced to be in Switzerland. Unfortunately, as you and I can see, our goals are not being achieved as quickly as we would like. This means that you will have to spend some time here in hospitable Switzerland.

I would like to recommend you the service Prêt à Parler in order to properly prepare for the oral exam, the so-called fide exam. It is an absolute prerequisite to getting a job, in order to enter training, to the University etc. This service is really focused on practical knowledge. Teachers in this service have extensive training experience for this exam.

You will receive not only basic knowledge of the French language, which will always be useful, but what is very important, you will receive a specific and targeted preparation program for passing the exam. Therefore, I really recommend using this service.

I'm finished.

Isabelle: Oh, merci beacoup Mykhailo. Vraiment, c'est un plaisir de vous avoir rencontré. C'est un plaisir vraiment de travailler avec vous aussi, de faire les cours ensemble. Et puis, nous aussi, on peut parler de ça.

Mykhailo: Tu retournes en français?

Isabelle: Je retourne en français, exactement. Vous parlez en ukrainien, moi je parle en français. C'est ma langue maternelle.

Mykhailo: C'est normal, c'est normal.

Isabelle: On a envie. Et j'aimerais beaucoup parler, apprendre un petit peu l'ukrainien. Comment je peux dire merci beaucoup en ukrainien?

Mykhailo: D'akuju.

Isabelle: D'akuju Mykhailo. Vraiment, c'est un grand plaisir d'avoir travaillé avec vous et de travailler avec vous. Et on serait ravis de pouvoir aider d'autres personnes qui viennent de l'Ukraine et d'ailleurs, bien sûr. Mais vraiment, nous, ce qu'on recherche, c'est le côté humain.

So we are all about the human side, at Prêt à Parler, and learning a language is a very human thing. It's not just learning the grammar, it's how to use it. And there's a big difference between the theory and the practice.

And so when you speak French, it's also nice to be able to know, okay, these words I can use it in colloquialism. When I speak in the street, this is more appropriate to speak when I go to a job interview. For my naturalization, I need this type of French. I need to be more polite here. So, it's really something that I, we are very passionate about.

We love to learn about our clients, and we love to share our love for French as well. So, I think that this is what you have felt when you did the lessons with us probably, with the teachers.

Mykhailo: Okay. From my point, from my side, I wish all the best to your team, to you and to your team. And I strongly believe that a lot of people will be happy with your fantastic services, with your fantastic team.

And I continue to strongly recommend your service to all my friends, colleagues, etc, especially Ukrainians. If you need more exact information from my side, especially for Ukrainian people or any problem with communication, don't hesitate to contact me. I am really open for assistance to all Ukrainian.

Isabelle: Wonderful. Merci beacoup Mykhailo. Je vous souhaite une très belle journée et de belles vacances de Pâques qui arrivent bientôt.

Mykhailo: Merci beaucoup et bonnes fêtes.

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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