How do you keep up your language skills back home?

Wondering what people's top tips for keeping up their different languages once they get home are? Especially if they have more than one? I feel I learn one, then forget it again. Advice and tips welcome!

This question was asked on 11th August 2014 and has been read 2955 times.

  • Prof. Mike Kelly · 8 years ago

    I guess the issue is with languages that are not part of your degree.

    You can get help with them in most universities through their Language Centre or similar. A lot of universities, like Southampton, offer language courses on an extra-curricular basis, either free of charge or for a modest fee. This is your best option because it is always easier to keep up your language learning in a structured way with a teacher. Usually theses classes run weekly, often in the evenings, but you can also find intensive courses if you want a quick boost.

    A lot of places have more informal language groups, such as Language Cafe arrangements, where a group meets on a weekly basis to talk in the language, sometimes with a facilitator. You can also seek out speakers of the language (such as incoming Erasmus students) and talk to them, possibly reciprocating by helping them with their English as well.

    Then there is a lot you can do by way of independent learning. Most language centres will give you advice on what would best suit your needs. There is no shortage of language learning materials in printed or recorded form, or online. There are plenty of commercial language courses and your university may have licenses that give you free access to these.

    And you can always make a point of getting as much contact with the language as possible: listen to the radio, watch TV, films, websites and so on. Probably the best tip would be to keep in touch with the people you have met and communicate with them in the language (email, Skype, social media, whatever).

    Half the battle is in actually wanting to keep up a language - there are lots of ways of doing it, but they all require you to make some effort. That's easier if there is a point to the activity beyond brushing up your language, such as keeping in touch with friends or making new ones.

    Good luck with your languages - keeping them up will repay you endlessly into the future.

  • Rachel Daw · 8 years ago

    I am two years into my career and trying to do the same thing! 

    I suggest: 

    - to meet tandem partners

    - to find random groups in your area (depending on where you live, you could be very surprised by how many language groups there are, like I was!) 

    - Skype / write to / email Year Abroad friends, and take any opportunity to go and visit them :)

    - find advanced adult education classes in your local area: I somehow managed to find a dream Italian teacher, who also happens to work for BA and organises five trips a year where students are only allowed to speak Italian, which is fab for practicing! 

    Good luck :) 

  • Philip Harding-Esch · 8 years ago

    I find reading really helps. Sometimes I just try to read the news or watch news bulletins in German (my "endangered species" language) and if I'm already familiar with the story this really helps.

    The very best thing is if you manage to travel back to the place on holiday sometimes - visit the friends you made there, or even just being in the country will help. This is what i have done with German and it's the only reason I can still hold a conversation in it.

  • Fraser Bowen · 8 years ago

    Just download a vocab app

  • Lauren Stevens · 8 years ago

    My university has a group called the 'Language Cafe' where ERASMUS students doing their year abroad in the UK, language students and anyone else come along to practice their languages. You could try searching on Facebook for groups. Meetup is also worth a try.

  • Anonymous Answer · 8 years ago

    What I do is take language lessons with British-Italian teacher on Skype. It's easier to learn with a person to talk to rather than learn by myself. In addition, I have a friend who also speaks Italian and we sometimes talk in Italian when we go out.

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