Break Diver Bibian Baralemwa
  • DIVER: Bibian Baralemwa
  • CATEGORY – Linguist
  • DIVE: French
  • LEVEL: 1
  • REQUIREMENTS: Level 1 (Can read, write, speak, and listen at a basic level.)

When and Why Did You Decide to Pursue This Dive?

In 2013 (soon after I returned from a conference where I had been terribly frustrated by not being able to communicate with our counterparts from Francophone countries) I enrolled in French classes with Alliance Française in Uganda. The most embarrassing moment was when we failed to deliver as a group due to the inability to communicate.

After the conference, I resolved to learn French to avoid ever getting into a similar situation. Back at work, I had a colleague who spoke French and when I explained what had happened at the conference, he decided from then on to switch to speaking French to me. This was a point of no turning back.

I also decided that as a Trainer of Trainers, especially working with French speaking countries in Africa, it would be great to learn some basic French to understand whether or not the translator was quoting me right.

I have included learning the French language as one of the fun things to do anywhere and anytime and it gets even more exciting to meet other learners.

How Long Did It Take For You To Accomplish This Dive At This Level From The Day You Decided To Pursue It, And Why Did It Take That Long?

It has taken me more than 5 years to get to this point mainly because I did not practice as regularly as I could have. There are not very many people around me with whom I can practice speaking French, as the majority of people in my country speak English. It took time and effort for me to begin to practice speaking and writing in French.

Grasping the basics of the French language probably took me the longest time. Conceptualizing the grammatical genders, learning the spelling of words and their pronunciations, and making logical sentences required an investment of time, which was a challenge because of the nature of work I had at the time. I also believe that being an adult learner had a bearing on the long period I have taken to learn the language. I think it could have taken me a much shorter time If I had pursued learning French when I was much younger.

What Was The Hardest Part About Achieving This Dive Level?

The hardest part about achieving this particular level was in the difficulty in grasping the basic concepts of the French language, its grammatical genders, and its pronunciations that often sounded completely different from the spelling: ‘vraiment’! It was even harder gaining confidence to speak the language. Thank you to the Break Diving Community that has provided a safe space for me to build my confidence.

It was also quite a challenge adhering to the scheduled study times that were often disrupted by work-related programs. Every time a study schedule was disrupted I would be forced to repeat lessons I had previously done, which was a bit demotivating.

I constantly have to remind myself that I need to get to the best level that I can with the French language.

What Was The Easiest Part About Achieving This Dive Level?

I give credit to my colleague who demystified my fears about learning French and made it easier for me to learn. The French language also shares many words with English, a language I am quite fluent in, which made it much easier for me to understand.

Even at this basic stage, I find it much easier to read and understand French than to speak and write it. While some might find it a childish thing to do, I delight in watching and listening to children’s programs and reading their storybooks. They have a magical way of helping me memorize new French words and phrases.

What Is Your Advice For Someone Who Is Pursuing This Dive And Level?

My advice to them would be:

  • Commitment/Engagement: This is like the powerhouse where your motivation is renewed. Without this commitment, the chances that one will achieve a goal are very low.
  • Discipline: To avoid being distracted or derailed. Discipline will keep you aligned and on track.
  • Resilience/résilience: Will bring you back every time you feel you can’t do it anymore. Those times will come when you question the importance of studying this language (or any language). Remind yourself why you chose to study the language in the first place, and then bounce back stronger and more determined to succeed. Practice, practice, and practice some more!

What Are Some Of The Best Resources You Recommend to Those Pursuing This Dive at This Level, And Why Do You Recommend Them? Please Include Relevant Weblinks, If Applicable.

Some of the best resources I used and would recommend include:

  • Lawless French ( It is a brilliant site that will assess your level and help you grasp the basic language concepts. It is particularly good for the correct use of verbs and sentence constructions.
  • Duolingo ( will put you on the race track for a competitive race against other learners. I love it for spelling and pronunciation.
  • Bing Translator ( and Google Translate ( – They are a quick help when you are stuck with definitions of words and finding the meaning of words in a given context.
  • Youtube ( – I use Youtube mostly to listen to music in French. It was a place for me to refuel.
  • Yabla ( – Their French lessons are wonderful for learners at any stage. The storytelling and short skits make it much easier to learn how to spell and pronounce words.
  • Break Diving ( – Their French community and online French events have given me opportunities to practice speaking and writing–my two areas of deficiency.

Tell Us A Story Of One Of Your Adventures While Pursuing This Dive.

[Editor’s Note: Not edited for grammar. 100% in writer’s own words.]

Il y a quelques années que j’ai décidé d’apprendre français, une langue je n’avais jamais eu d’intérêt à apprendre. J’avais participé à une conférence avec des gens des pays anglophones et francophones. J’étais très frustrée parce que je ne pouvais pas communiquer avec mes collègues qui ne comprenaient que la langue française.

Quand j’ai commencé à apprendre français, j’ai trouvé lui un peu difficile et intéressant en même temps. Il n’était pas facile de pratiquer seul. J’avais peur de faire des erreurs. J’ai donc parlé à mes fleurs, au poulet et à mes enfants.

J’ai écouté des émissions pour enfants à la télévision et j’ai lu leurs petits livres. Puis avec l’aide de la communauté de Break Diving j’ai osé parler ce que j’ai appris jusqu’à présent. Je suis encore très loin d’être à l’avant-même mais je sais que j’y vais!

How Did You Prove You Met The Requirements for this Level?

  • The Break Diving dive committee verified my written (reading and writing) French language abilities via live text chat in the Break Diving Fluency Project FP-French chatroom for the current level.
  • The Break Diving dive committee verified my spoken (speaking and listening) French language abilities via live video chat in the Break Diving Fluency Project live video classroom for the current level.

Will you be pursuing the next level?  If so, why, and if not, why not?

Yes, I definitely will be pursuing the next level. I have had the opportunity to work across Francophone Africa and I look forward to a time when I can be able to attend and/or conduct a meeting without translation. I am currently subscribed to a number of French learning programs. I was recently tested on my progress with Lawless French and assessed to be at B1 level.

And having made this post, and provided adequate evidence to the dive committee, Bibian Baralemwa is now hereby certified by Break Diving, Inc. as: LINGUIST – FRENCH – LEVEL 1.  Congratulations Bibian!  Thank you for being an inspiration to others!

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This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Leul Mamo

    hey, bibian congrats. French is indeed a tough language to grasp. Can’t wait to see you progress even more.

  2. riya chaudhary

    congratsss bibian

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