4 Ways to Keep Up the Language Progress You’ve Already Made
After a great language course, long vacation overseas, semester abroad, or even living in a foreign country, you’re bound to learn a lot of the language. Whether or not you had previous exposure to the language prior to your immersion experience, you have likely learned a lot more now than by using other methods in the past. All that hard working has paid off – you’ve hit your language sweet spot.
But, you’d be surprised at how easy it is to forget several words or phrases, or just downright lose confidence in your own speaking and listening abilities, very quickly. If language learning is like any other form of knowledge acquisition, you’ve got to flex your mind muscles to keep up. Not doing so will result in atrophy and loss of skills. So, what are the best ways to maintain, and even build upon, the progress you’ve already made learning your language?
Learning a new language? Take a free placement test to see how your level measures up!
While everyone’s ideal learning circumstances may be different, here are 4 things that you can do to integrate learning into your daily routine, so as not to lose any progress.
1. Seek out language partners.
Language partners can be native speakers, non-native fluent speakers, or even others learning alongside you. You can also get some extra language practice by joining local clubs, befriending new groups of people who speak the language, or even meeting language speakers through online forums. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you have access to people with whom you can regularly speak and listen to in order to continue your learning. Since speaking is such an important component in communication and fluency, make sure to flex this muscle often.
2. Convert activities from your native language to your learning language.
Do you read the newspaper or online news every morning? Maybe you read a magazine at lunch, catch up with a bestselling novel on your commute home, or watch movies after work or school in the evenings. Instead of doing these activities in your native language like you normally would, consider converting as many activities as you can to the language you’re currently learning. By doing this, you’re engaging your reading comprehension skills while going about your everyday life. Since you may rarely be exposed to your learning language in the everyday world, strategically look for ways to practice your language without a huge time commitment.
3. Keep challenging yourself to learn more advanced words/structures.
When you do set aside time for in-depth learning (which you should aim to do at least once weekly), make sure you’re challenging yourself to learn new tenses, vocabulary, and communication structures. If you already feel pretty comfortable with those language principles, aim to learn more idioms or local colloquialisms. But, whatever you do, don’t neglect to continue learning more advanced principles of the language until you reach fluency. Even if you’re practicing everyday, progress can be stifled if you aren’t expanding your baseline language knowledge.
4. Incorporate the language into your daily life as much as you can.
Maybe your spouse or roommates have always wanted to learn the language, but never got around to it. By offering to teach them some of the basic principles, you’re not only solidifying your own working knowledge, but you’re also creating more language partners to practice with. If one of your co-workers speaks the language, go out to lunch one day and only speak your learning language. Consider teaching your kids parts of the language, then try speaking only that language at home (or even just from 5 to 6 p.m. on weeknights, for example).
By seeking out different ways to incorporate the language into your daily life and relationships, you’ll be amazed at how fun it is and how effective it can be as a practice agent in the midst of your normal routine.
Bottomline: Keep it Fun
The key to keeping up with anything – particularly learning another language – is to make it an engaging, fun learning experience as often as possible. The methods you use to keep up with your language learning should be personalized according to your abilities, interests, and priorities, while also staying realistic to your lifestyle needs. Yes, your intensive summer French class or time living in Rio de Janeiro may have ended, but there’s no reason why you should give up on the progress that you’ve already made. By using these four ways to incorporate the language into your daily life and learning regime, your skills can continue to flourish.
How have you kept up the progress on your language learning journey? Share your tips with us in the comments!