Get Your Rusty Languages Back on the Road

by contributor · 2 comments

get your rusty language back on the road again

Keeping a language fresh in your mind depends on how often you practise it. Even if you are completely bilingual, if a time comes when one of the languages lies dormant and is not used at all, it will inevitably get rusty. This is especially true of second languages, which you may have learned and studied for years at school, university or on exchange programmes. The best way to avoid forgetting the details of a language is to use it as often as possible.

Practising your receptive skills, whether by reading books or watching films, is all well and good, but it is not enough to maintain a language. It is important that you actively produce it by speaking and writing.

Top-up courses can be a useful way to refresh the memory and get much needed practice. Whether it’s on an English course in Brighton or a Spanish course in Bristol, speaking with native speakers while brushing up on grammatical rules is a great way to keep your languages from getting rusty. 

But if that is not possible and you don’t have anyone around to speak with, here are some alternative suggestions:

Online language exchange

There are websites that specialise in learning languages online for free, which feature many blog posts on the subject of practising languages. Other websites such as or allow you to pair up with someone online and practise with a native speaker who is also learning your language. You can choose a location, age and nationality and start chatting to other people.

By helping someone to learn your native language you will be enhancing your own language learning skills at the same time as practising your second language. These websites often include text chat, video and audio chat as well as word games to help with the process.

Language games

Mobile apps such as AccelaStudy and Lexicon use interactive games to help you practise languages. Some versions even allow you to record and play back audio versions so that you can test your fluidity when it comes to speech. There are also individual apps for languages such as Spanish, French or German.

Group chat

Once you are confident enough to speak a language in person, why not set up a group? Websites like allow you to find groups already registered in your local area. If you can’t find one for the language you’d like to practise, you can set one up for free and invite guests online.

These language learning tips should get you talking and socialising in your second language, which will keep the language active and your brain oiled – meaning getting rusty is no longer a worry.

Photo credit: irishwildcat

What are your top suggestions for keeping languages strong when you don’t live in the country where it is spoken?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Petra April 14, 2012 at 11:21 pm

I’m so livnig this problem… and just like you say, studdies, books and movies can help us even with our writing, speaking is the tricky part. And while I’m quite able to have a conversation with someone in my 2nd, 3rd or 4th language, unexpected problems appear when it comes to ordering a cake (the example I particularly like 😉 )


2 Euro Languages College April 16, 2012 at 3:43 am

We agree that the best way to keep up fluency in a second language is to practise it regularly in an environment that is stimulating to the student. Which is why we run summer language courses designed for teenagers in Ireland, to help them in the year before their final exams!


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