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  • Writer's pictureMicah

How to Keep up Your Second Language

You’ve taken the time and effort to learn a new language. How do you make sure you don’t lose your proficiency? If you live abroad you may not find that too difficult. But many of us don’t live abroad nor do we have the time or finances to frequently travel to a foreign country to keep up our proficiency in our new language. So what can we do?

I remember years ago when I had finally learned to communicate in Portuguese. It was easy to keep up when I was living in Portugal but as soon as I moved back to the US I was in a quandary as to how to keep my language skills sharp. Where I live you can find Spanish speakers on every corner but Portuguese speakers aren’t so easy to find. Back then it cost a lot to make an international call - $2-$3/minute. There was no internet, no WhatsApp, nothing like that. I wasn’t aware of movie subtitled in different languages. It was difficult. Not impossible but difficult to keep up my Portuguese.

But today, with all the technology we have, keeping up a second language can be easier now than ever.

Here are a few suggestions to help you maintain fluency in your second language:

1. Find a Practice Partner – Like I said, this is easier now than ever. Do you have a friend that speaks your language? If not network with people you know to find someone you can practice with. If you don’t know someone local who speaks your new language try finding someone online. You can reach out to individuals on Facebook or Instagram or find language groups where you can find a partner. The world really is your oyster when it comes to finding a practice partner. Depending on your language skills you may have to start with very simple conversations but in time you’ll be able to speak more freely.

2. Use it in Public – Find a restaurant or store where the owners don’t speak English. If you’re learning Chinese, find a Chinese market or Chinese restaurant to practice. If you’re learning Spanish hit up your local Mexican restaurant or store. Same thing with Hindi. You get the picture. Look outside your box and you’ll have fun keeping up your language skills.

3. Read Out Loud – As I said, when I was trying to keep my Portuguese up years ago I remember having no resources. This included no reading materials in Portuguese. I remember ordering the Reader’s Digest so that I had something to read out loud. It was quite expensive, and you can now get the same thing for free, but it gave me something. Reading out loud is a great way to practice your pronunciation and also a good way to learn new vocabulary words. Plus it’s something you can do by yourself, daily, on your own schedule.

4. Watch a Movie – Watching a movie either in your second language or with subtitles in your second language is a good way to keep proficient in your new language. While some languages are easier than others to find, the internet has it all. Go and find what you want.

5. Listen to Music – Music! It’s everywhere, in every language! While I personally find it difficult to understand anything that’s being said in a foreign language when someone is singing, it can be a good way to tune your ear into hearing the language as opposed to reading or speaking.

6. Do Something Daily – I honestly should have put this one first. It really doesn’t matter what you do, just do something…..every single day! The longer you go without hearing or practicing your new language, the less proficient you will be. Set a goal to practice your second language for at least 30 minutes per day. The SpeakALanguage programs make this easy as you can learn while driving, exercising, cooking, gardening, etc. You have no excuses!

You took all the time and effort to learn a new language. Don’t lose all your proficiency and fluency. Take some time to keep up your skills. You won’t regret it. There is nothing quite like happening upon a conversation in your second language and understanding what is being said. Even better is being able to join in the conversation.

What’s your second language? What tips do you have to keep up your proficiency in that language? Don’t speak a second language but want to start? No excuses…Try Lesson 1 of any language for FREE!

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