Have you studied a language for years only to forget it? Well, that’s a common situation seeing that 95% of high school students forget what they’ve learned in 3 days. I believe that the chief reason why this occurs is that language learning places too much focus on memorization and grammar rules, not communication. While having a grammar base will help you master a language, schools should put more emphasis on conversation. I took formal Spanish classes for 10 years from middle school Spanish one to Hispanic literature in college. Although I haven’t taken a class in 3 years, I still remember the majority of the language due to practicing simple habits and affordable technology on a near daily basis. You can use these to tips to remember a language you forgot.
Befriend Native Speakers
First and foremost, befriending native speakers is the most important tip to remember a language you forgot. As mentioned in an earlier post, Alex, my good friend from college, met and married a Mexican girl named Cruz. Befriending native speakers allows you to practice the language in an informal matter and learn concepts not taught in school. For example, every Hispanic country has their own accent and slang words, which most people never learn. By learning these new words and accents, you can identify with different cultures and instantly know where someone is from. In fact, guessing people’s home country based on their accent is a pretty fun exercise. Lastly, listening to native speakers is a great way to train your ear and mimic useful patterns.
Listen to the Radio
It might seem strange, but sometimes I listen to my car radio in Spanish. By doing this, it enables me to understand relevant conversation and daily phrases. Many of these radio stations have commercials (albeit too many), which advertise American Products. For example, these commercials advertise everything from cars, malls to legal services. These commercials say the product or service in English, which allows you to understand the meaning based on context. You don’t need to understand every word, but constantly listening to these stations allows you to gradually learn more words and phrases. Like befriending native speakers, listening to the radio will help you adjust to native speakers tones and patterns.
Watching Movies/TV Shows
TV, especially Netflix, plays a large role in american society. In fact, average users spend up to an hour and 40 minutes on Netflix per day! This means that some users spend more time binge watching Netflix than talking to people. With all this time, it makes sense to find a way to master a skill simultaneously right? Luckily, many Netflix shows can be dubbed in different languages with different subtitles.
Netflix: the 800lb Gorilla!
For example, I like to watch movies in Spanish with Spanish subtitles. By doing this, I can listen to language and read what they are saying. As many of you know, some Spanish natives speak quickly and don’t enunciate their words. Therefore, having subtitles will allow you to see grammar patterns and understand the show at your own pace.
Technology is rapidly changing and Youtube has become a very powerful marketing tool. For instance, videos are 45 times more likely to rank on the first page of Google than text results. You can find everything on Youtube from surfing videos, to computer tips and even language guides. There are tons of channels meant for language immersion, but I find that Easy languages is one of the best channels.
Easy Languages have video series for tons of languages and have native speakers tour the streets in their native countries. Each Native speaker talks about different topics with random bystanders in the country. Each video is subtitled in English, so you can understand the meaning. Easy Languages is great because it emphasizes practical conversation in a fun manner.
One of the best ways to remember a language you forgot is by working with a tutor. Yes, some tutors can charge exorbitant fees and are located far away, but it’s easy to find an affordable quality online language tutor. In fact, sites like Italki and Rype make it easy to work with a qualified tutor at your own pace. Rype is a premium language platform that charges a flat monthly fee to learn Spanish, French, German, Italian, Mandarin, Arabic, and English. There are in the process of adding new languages and you can choose between GO and X Plans. GO plans allow you to have 30 minutes of privates instruction per day, while X plans include an hour of language practice daily.
Italki is a great online language learning platform that allows you to learn at your own pace. Italki has more languages than Rype does, and you’d pay per lesson. Italki is a great platform if you want to pay per lesson as you go. However, these lessons can really add up, which makes Rype a good alternative if you want daily, language practice for a flat fee.
It’s a common, but unfortunate situation to forget a language you’ve learned. Most people learn languages in high school via rote memorization, dry grammar rules, and tough exams. Grammar is important to truly master a language, but you must remember the most important reason to learn a language, conversation. Therefore, it makes sense to utilize technology to remember a language you forgot. Luckily, these methods are affordable, simple, fun and will give you the confidence to become conversationally proficient. Befriending native speakers, listening to the radio, watching TV shows and YouTube videos along with online tutoring are great ways to maintain your language skills.