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 www.mylanguageexchange.com or www.sharedtalk.com 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.
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.
Once you are confident enough to speak a language in person, why not set up a group? Websites like www.meetup.com 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?