So maybe you learned French back in high school or university. It was your favourite class, you were motivated to learn the language and you made strides towards fluency.
But a few years went by, you hardly speak French anymore, and one day while you’re at the grocery store, you run into your old French teacher. She starts speaking to you in French: “Bonjour! Ça fait un bon moment, ça va?”.
Suddenly, it sinks in, and you realize that you’ve forgotten everything. You’re desperately trying to find your words, and the language that seemed like second nature a few years ago seems like a distant memory now. All you can stammer is: “B-bonjour! I think I forgot how to speak French…” as you explain the reality that you’re embarrassed to admit. The last thing you want to do is forget a language that you’ve spent so much time learning, fret not, we can help you brush up on your French again, and it’s not as hard as it seems!
So, whether you lost your French, or another language, or you are currently learning a language and trying to find out how to keep the language in your head once you master it, this is how:
- THE HARD PART IS ALREADY DONE
It’s one thing to learn a language, but it’s another to maintain the language once you’ve already learned it. Learning it from scratch is much harder, so the good news is you’ve already completed the first step, you already have the foundation built, you just have to remember what you have already learned. The stronger the foundation is, the harder it will be to lose the language, so even if you knew French very well 10 years ago but haven’t spoken it much since then, it will still be in your head, but you need to be motivated to start restoring your skills.
- FIND MOTIVATION
The next step is to find motivation, try seeking what sparked your interest in the language in the first place and rediscover the culture because the heart of a language lies in its culture, and when it’s embraced, learning comes easily. The journey of learning a language should be fun, it shouldn’t feel like a chore, ideally you should enjoy making progress and exploring the culture that goes along with the language. Having fun with it is a good starting point to reignite your passion for the language, whether that means kicking it back and watching your favourite French movie, enjoying the mouth-watering cuisine, or even embarking on a trip to a French-speaking country if you’re able to. All of these things will inspire you to start learning French all over again, which you can do by absorbing the language either passively or actively.
- START RELEARNING
Passive learning is a more relaxed way of learning, and can include watching TV shows, reading or listening to music or a podcast in French. This helps you keep your skills sharp by simply being exposed to the language, which is a good fit for people with a busy schedule as it is not incredibly time consuming. Whereas active learning is more interactive and helps refine your skills with more hands-on practice such as speaking French regularly, joining meetup groups, using a tutor, or taking a refresher course like the ones we offer here at Le Petit Écolier. Nonetheless both of these methods are effective, but both require room for the language in your daily life, and a commitment to stay at least somewhat consistent.
- INCLUDE THE LANGUAGE IN YOUR DAY TO DAY LIFE
The number one reason people let a language slip from their grasp is because they don’t use it in their everyday lives. If you want to keep your French skills it is important to take time to expose yourself to the language regularly. Routinely practicing with family, friends or even strangers is extremely helpful. If you don’t have any family that is French, you can also teach your kids the language, that way the language will be rooted in your family and you’ll always have someone to practice with. Our French camps and classes are a great way to get your kids speaking, and loving French.There you have it, hopefully this helps you maintain your language skills and avoid finding yourself in the awkward situation described at the beginning of this blog. Remember not to take your language skills for granted because if you don’t use it you’ll lose it!