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What do you do to maintain languages you have already learned?


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Once you have studied a language to an advanced level and you are more or less happy with your abilities, what do you do to maintain that level in the long term. Sometimes I feel that languages I have not used in a while are getting rusty and I am forgetting things.

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Sometimes I feel like my english is getting rusty, and I use it everyday :P  Something must be really wrong with me, or maybe the stress I'm facing lately is really affecting me  :confused: 

I often think that knowing a lot languages must be a really nice thing, something like a really good investment, but I think in the practice... the story is totally different :(  I think the average polyglot has trouble keeping up with the languages he/she has learnt, unless this person has a really exceptional memory. 

I guess the best way to keep what you got is to keep on practicing the language as much as you can.  Maybe writing in that language everyday, by staying in touch with other advanced students tru mail or skype :)  Watching movies in that foreigner language can also be super helpful!

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You have to use the language consistently or you will lose the fluency. I think it's very similar to maintaining an exercise and fitness program to stay in shape.  Or a musician practicing daily. 

To stay immersed to some degree, I think listening to TV and radio, watching movies are all helpful.  From a cognitive perspective, writing and speaking are more demanding and so it's good to practice both.  Corresponding by email with someone if you are not in a location where you hear the language would be helpful.  Similarly, conversations locally or via Skype to keep verbal fluency.

Thanks to the Internet, I think it's much easier to stay fluent as we do have all these options! :)

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Speaking, reading, writing. Those are the fundamental bases. Kind of sounds like the easy answer but in truth there's no better way to learn than to practice. There are also a ton of online resources dedicated to help increase fluency.

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You just have to expose yourself to the language as much as possible. Through your friends who speak it, watching videos of people speaking that language, listening to music of that language. The longer you don't have any exposure to it, the harder it is to pick the language back up and be as fluent as you once were.

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I try to implement it in my daily life. I'll use it in writing, speaking, or even listening. I can talk to other people who know the language, i'ill write things down in that language, or even listen to music in the language I just learned. Doing these things have helped me retain the information I have learned. I suggest you do the same.

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I've always been told that the best way to maintain fluency in a language would be to speak the language regularly. If you don't have someone to talk to, maybe you could teach part-time, or online, you maintain the language and you'll earn some extra cash. Movies and reading will help maintain the language too.

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I try to read and write as much as possible in those languages. Conversing with someone in that language might be a challenging task because we need people around us who know that language. However, reading and writing does not have such a requirement and hence I would keep doing them  :laugh:

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Sometimes I feel like my english is getting rusty, and I use it everyday :P  Something must be really wrong with me, or maybe the stress I'm facing lately is really affecting me  :confused: 

I often think that knowing a lot languages must be a really nice thing, something like a really good investment, but I think in the practice... the story is totally different :(  I think the average polyglot has trouble keeping up with the languages he/she has learnt, unless this person has a really exceptional memory. 

I guess the best way to keep what you got is to keep on practicing the language as much as you can.  Maybe writing in that language everyday, by staying in touch with other advanced students tru mail or skype :)  Watching movies in that foreigner language can also be super helpful!

Trellum, I've spoken with you before and I had honestly no idea that Spanish is your native tongue. I never would have guessed. Your English is phenomenal, I don't think you're rusty at all! Do you think you could practice Spanish with me somehow? I really need to practice and get back to the level of fluency I used to speak at.. >.<

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practice, practice, practice. Even if it means watching a movie in the language. To maintain a language you have to have exposure to it. I know so many people who were once fluent and then never practiced. It takes so much work to learn a language. I cannot imagine not maintaining it.

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Watching a movie in a different language is an excellent idea. In a classroom or with a tutor, they're slowing it down for you some, they know you aren't a native speaker. In a movie, obviously the actors aren't patronizing or compromising for you. It's a great exercise.

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I agree with many above that if you do not speak the language you can get rusty.  That is like anything whether its riding a bike or rowing a boat.  If you do watch a foreign language film, I "talk back" to the dialogue.  Do this at home with rental and not in a theater or you may find some angry people surrounding you.

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i'll watch movies in that language, go to foreign language web sites, read the news in the language, have imaginary conversations in my head using the language and i'll even speak the language when i am by myself and feel like i could benefit from enunciating the words in the language.  it's kind of weird but i am a really weird person!

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There are several ways to maintain a language. To maintain my French, I like to watch French movies with English subtitles. I also read newspapers and books in French whenever possible. I don't get much chance to speak French now, but I plan to take some refresher classes soon.

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You can take advantage of Skype and other online communication tools to talk with someone who speaks the language. You can also chat with them so you won't forget how to write in the language. Of course the first challenge in this is you'd have to find the people who speak the language you studied first, and just like culture, their interests can vary much.

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I watch movies and constantly practise those languages which I am already fluent in with friends either verbally or through writing emails. I find that it is easy to maintain fluency if you are constantly using a language. Even if I haven't used a language for several weeks, usually all it takes is a few days speaking it with native speakers to "awaken" my skills, so to speak.

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To maintain a language alive in our head we need at least to be reading in that language or we will forget about it. So even if we cannot speak or listen too, I think reading is a must!

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  • 4 weeks later...

To maintain languages I have already learned I just speak them all the time. The best way to retain a language you have learned is to speak that language all the time. If you could have a full blown conversation with someone who speaks your learned language, would be great indeed. There are tons of methods on the internet that can be used to teach yourself these methods.

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Yes, of course. After all, we are all humans...and humans forget. One thing that i find helpful in retaining the foreign language i have learnt, is to watch TV programs that are in that foreign language. Movies and shows are created to be engaging, and in being engaged with the movie/show, you are actually being engaged with the language - and the accent of the language.

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