I've been studying French for about 18 months. My original motivation was a trip to France in June 2013. Mostly I was on a guided tour where I was pretty sheltered. However, I also had a week on my own in Paris and was thankful for the French I knew. I met many who spoke some to very good English but I also met some who knew none.
One day I needed a product available in many pharmacies, and the staff in the two I entered knew no English. Those in the first pharmacy didn't appear to be interested in helping me, but those in the second did. With sign language and my very limited French, I made my wishes known.
Since my trip I've continued to study French and am amazed that I'm beginning to understand what I hear, that is I actually know what's being said in the same way I understand English. I'm even beginning to pick out words that I haven't learned in my French lessons. Being a Canadian, everything I buy is bilingual, so I've been exposed to printed (but no oral)French all my life and have had a curiosity about the other side of the package. Now I'm beginning to understand those words when I hear them, and that's especially exciting.
I want to visit France again, possibly in 2016, and will have even more exposure to French-only speakers than I hand on the first trip. I also look forward to knowing more French than I knew last June.
Here's an added side benefit from studying the French language. You will actually learn more about English. I've studied the English language inside out and backwards, but am amazed at what I've learned about English from my French studies.
Merci, Marie Claire for your encouragement. It's so easy to forget that learning something new often has periods standing still and digesting what was already learned.