How To Avoid Forgetting a Foreign Language

Forgetting a foreign language is much easier than actually learning one. As multimillionaire sales trainer Grant Cardone once put it, ‘‘It only takes one day to become rusty.’’ This is why it is incredibly important for people who are studying foreign languages to frequently revise and practice what they learn. I have been studying Spanish for more than five years now, and below are three things that I have done to reinforce the grammar and vocabulary I learned while I studied the language.


Consume content in the language

Too often, students of foreign languages make the mistake of solely making use of their textbooks, CDs, and other study materials. Although these resources play a critical role in the learning process of a new language, they are usually focused around a confined curriculum, and as such, may not be sufficient material for a student who wishes to develop an advanced level of proficiency in a foreign language.

In addition to reinforcing what you have studied, consuming different types of content in the language that you are learning is a great way to come across new words and expressions. For example, a person who takes the time to regularly read a newspaper that is written in the language he or she is learning would be able to get a better understanding of that language’s sentence structure.

For example, my Spanish vocabulary and listening skills have improve by simply listening to music from Mexico and Latin America. I have also benefitted from making it a habit to watch at least one program or movie in Spanish a week. Put simply: you will learn and remember a foreign language a lot faster if you surround yourself in that language as much as possible.

Regularly speak in the language

It is virtually impossible to master a foreign language without having hours of experience with actually speaking the language. At the end of the day, most communication is done verbally. The vocabulary and grammatical rules taught in classes should be put into practice through oral communication. When you regularly speak in the language that you are learning, you are able to naturally practice your pronunciation and listening skills.

Talking to native speakers in their mother tongue is one way to increase the amount of speech you practice in a foreign language. This is why Verbling can be so useful. I signed up for tutoring sessions on Verbling earlier this year in order to have someone to practice my oral skills with. Since joining, I have become a lot more fluent and faster in my verbal responses.

Traveling also provides many opportunities to speak a foreign language. If you are studying French, for instance, it may be very helpful to travel to France, or maybe even Guadeloupe, a French island in the Caribbean, for a vacation. In addition to gaining firsthand knowledge of French culture, you will be able to have conversations in the language. Although you might come across bilingual people, like immigration officers and shopkeepers, the majority of your interactions will be in another language.

Constantly revise grammar

As a student of a foreign language, it is important to refresh your memory on the grammar of the language. I have especially found it quite easy to forget exceptions to important grammatical rules, how to conjugate irregular verbs, and the verb endings for tenses that I do not frequently use. In almost any language there will be several grammatical concepts that only arise in unique situations. For example, the use of some tenses and irregular verbs in Spanish are very rare, and as such, it is very easy to forget how to structure a sentence using them. This is why every day I make an effort to read a couple of papers from my Spanish grammar textbook to keep my mind refreshed.

The bottom line

Without constant revision and practice, a student can retard his or her progress with learning a foreign language. Use the three ways to reinforce foreign vocabulary and grammar I've shared with you to help you on your road to fluency!



About the author:

Like most adolescents, Warren Cassell, Jr. balances his time between schoolwork and extracurricular activities, but that’s probably the most he has in common with his peers. Warren, 16, is an award-winning entrepreneur, published author and value investor living in the Caribbean.

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