6 Ways to Keep Up a Language

I am a recent languages graduate, and I think the fear when ending any kind of language learning process is that without constant practising, you will lose your language skills. A language is something that you need to practice in order to improve, and it can be daunting taking on the task of improving by yourself.

So today I wanted to come up with a few ways to keep up your language skills, making sure you don’t lose your speaking, writing, or listening skills even when you’ve graduated or finished secondary school.

I recently read this post from Lifestyle Season and it really inspired me to remember all the brilliant ways you can learn, enjoy, and fall in love with a language- especially during lockdown.

Most people stop studying languages after secondary school, and so it’s always a good idea to have a few tricks up your sleeve if you’re wanting to keep up a language in your own time.

Whether you want to keep up your high school Spanish or you’ve graduated from University and don’t want to lose your French- this post offers a few ways to keep up your language skills before we can travel and put them to good use!

Below, find 6 ways to keep up a language, even when you’ve finished formal teaching or need to improve on your own

Listen to Podcasts

I really recommend immersing yourself in a language when you’re trying to keep it up- and there are so many choices for podcasts on sites such as Spotify or Apple Music. They have podcasts for beginners all the way through to those who are almost fluent- and I find it super helpful to have a listen to something in French when I need to keep up with the language.

There are also podcasts that tell you what has been said in English (if this is your preferred language) so you know that you’ve been following everything correctly.

Read Articles

I currently have Le Monde notifications on my phone, so as well as BBC breaking news I also get news from one of the major French news platforms. I find this means I can get bite-sized pieces of information, and also learn new words about current affairs.

I think one of the main things you learn when studying a language at University is that it’s not just about the language- it’s about the context of that country, what it means to live there, and how the people live and behave. I think reading articles about a certain country is the perfect way to learn more about the country, its language, and its culture.

Woman reading newspaper in a long pink coat.
Photo by Ono Kosuki on Pexels.com

Watch Foreign Films and Shows

I’ve been doing this one since I graduated in June, and it’s been so helpful for keeping up my language skills. I usually keep the French subtitles on while I watch, so it means I’m keeping with with my reading and listening skills. I recommend ‘The Hook-Up Plan‘ and ‘Call My Agent’ on Netflix.

I recommend watching foreign films or shows if you’re trying to keep up your language skills at whatever level. It sounds silly, but even if you watch a child’s show in a foreign language it means you’re understanding and immersing yourself in the language more than if you just stick to your home language.

Use an Online Tool

I think online sites such as Duolingo and Memrise are brilliant for keeping up with vocabulary, and it’s very easy to lose this vocab after your graduate or finish studying. I definitely know my vocab isn’t as good as it was a year or so ago, and so I really need to follow my own advice here!

A great way to look out for your vocab skills is by writing a little book of new words and phrases- especially ones that will come in useful when you can travel again.

A list of words with the breakdown of the pronunciation of the words.
Photo by Nothing Ahead on Pexels.com

Listen to the News

Okay, so foreign news can often seem super super fast, especially if you’re not the most confident language learner. I really recommend sites such as French Slow News, where the headlines are slowed down to a speed which is challenging but realistic.

When I studied at A-Level I used to try and listen to the French news before any speaking or listening exams- and I still maintain that even if you don’t completely understand what’s going on, it’s still a good way to get your brain familiar with a certain language.

Think in a Foreign Language

I try to do this when I remember, and it’s a fun way to keep your language skills going. I try to occasionally talk to myself and think about what I’m going to do in a different language, just to check I still have the right phrases.

If you ever want or need to speak your language again on a regular basis, it’s great to want to know you still have the right accent and phrasing to easily slip back into it!

Do you have any recommendations for ways to keep up a language? Have you ever enjoyed learning a language, at school or University? What language do you enjoy learning?

Let me know all your thoughts in the comments below πŸ™‚

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Happy reading x

61 thoughts

  1. My phonetics issue caused by my dyslexic makes learning and using my native language difficult, let alone a second one. It doesn’t take long for me to give up on words I know in another language if I’ve not used them enough, because of the fear I’m going to pronounce them wrong. I wish my brain was built for languages

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fab post! I studied German in school but forgotten most of it over the years. I’d love to practice more to re-learn what I can, and these are great ideas. Thinking in a language sounds a difficult yet fun way to do this too x

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I think it’s amazing that you’re a language graduate! I’ve tried learning a new language so many times – I usually just use duolingo, which I realise is a great place to start but you need a lot of other tools to help you! I just don’t have the patience which I haaaate cos I wish I did!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is quite helpful. I’ve heard of and used Duolingo but didn’t know of Memrise. I definitely need to give it a try.
    I didn’t consider the ‘think in the language you want to learn’ part and that sounds very effective. Need to begin right away!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I studied both French and German in school, but that was over 35 years ago now. Living in Canada, it’s easy to keep up with French so my French is still very good. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten 90% of the German I ever knew. Maybe when I retire, I’ll pick it up again.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Excellent advice, much of it applicable as well to college students trying to improve their fluency (rather than lose it) during summer vacations or other time off. There may also be meetup groups where an individual can engage in conversation in the target language as well. I even signed up my grandson (yes, this is a lifelong process!) for what’s called a “Free Forest School” that was conducted all in Spanish. It was great for both of us!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. These are some great tips. I listen to a lot of French podcasts and music as a means of getting some aspect of the language in my day-to-day life. I went a while after high school without speaking or listening to anything French and it took work to get that language ability back after realizing I was more than a little rusty lol Going through that process once was enough for me! Now I make an effort to not allow it to get there again…

    Liked by 1 person

  8. These are great suggestions! One of my big regrets is not keeping up on my German when I moved back to Canada. I struggled to find others to practice with, so wasn’t able to maintain it. I should see if I can find some shows to watch and try to pick up some more. I like the idea of listening and reading the foreign subtitles. That’s a really great way to go about it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Alison πŸ™‚ Yes I understand that, it’s very hard to keep up languages and even now I can feel my French slipping after almost a year out of uni! Yes watching things with subtitles really keeps your mind focused on the French x

      Like

  9. These are all great tips and I didn’t know you graduated in languages, that’s amazing! I studied both Spanish and French in school but can just understand it now, speaking is all another thing! I am currently trying my hand at Korean so I will give it a try to podcasts too, Duolingo comes just to a certain point! Thanks for sharing x

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Love these ideas! Watching the news – even if it’s just the weather is so good for picking up/remembering words. Also enjoy watching movies in French or Spanish with English subtitles x

    Liked by 1 person

  11. These are such great suggestions. I don’t speak another language unfortunately. But if I ever want to learn, I will keep this post in mind!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Great tips! I think the most important is to ‘think in a foreign language.’ Even talk to yourself in a foreign language. The more you can use it –consciously and subconsciously — the more likely you are able to not forget.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Love these tips!! I’m currently learning Croatian as a native English speaker and super focused on getting to the point where I can think in Croatian. Once you can think in a language it makes communicating so much easier.

    I’ve noticed learning languages like French and Spanish is much easier than Croatian in part due to available resources. Less used languages like Croatian have vastly less coverage when it comes to language apps and media produced in the language.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve been trying to learn some French through Duolingo for the past couple of months. I’m beginning to lose my motivation a bit because it gets a bit boring only learning through the app. Thanks so much for these recommendations! I’ve just been having a look at French Slow News and it looks great. It’s something a bit different that will not only motivate me, but challenge me as well! Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I appreciate this post sooooo much! I have been studying French (loosely) for about two years and I do often wonder how to practice more effectively since I have no one to speak it with. These tips will no only be a better language learner but hopefully help me work on my annunciation as well.

    Thanks so much for the help!
    xoxo Bri Cruz

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Really interesting ideas! I’ve always been hopeless with other languages, and tried to pick up Duolingo at the start of lockdown but it didn’t last. The real challenge is the time commitment – you have to be listening for long periods to other languages, but I do still want to try it

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Thank you very much for giving such useful tips!! ❀️
    I’m trying to learn Korean through online and at free of cost. But I don’t know from where to start. What is the proper way to learn a new language? Should I learn the alphabets and know how to write or start up with speaking? Can you give any suggestion from your side ?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s fantastic, good for you πŸ™‚ I recommend checking out duolingo or free online sites- and I guess it depends what you’re using it for whether you want to start with writing or speaking, but I guess the alphabet is a good place to start! I’m no language tutor though haha

      Liked by 1 person

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