Nothing is sadder than when you realize that a language you used to be fluent in is slowly fading from your brain. This happens a lot, especially to people who know several languages. What’s that old phrase? “Use it or lose it?” It must be time to refresh your language fluency!
If you aren’t actively brushing up on your language skills, you’re likely to lose some language fluency as time passes. You may be inspired or pressured to update your skills for travel or business reasons. Perhaps you are a freelance translator wanting to expand into and work with your third or fourth language. Whatever the reason, you can get your fluency back, so don’t worry. There are many fun ways to do this without cracking open a textbook or buying an expensive plane ticket for an immersive experience.
Media binging just got productive
Can’t find someone to have a conversation with in your language of choice? Don’t worry. Simply hop onto Netflix and find some characters who will have the conversations for you.
One of the best ways to refresh your language fluency is to listen to other people speaking in that language. The Internet has made consuming foreign media very accessible. Watch your favorite Netflix film or show in a language you want to freshen up on – subtitles optional – and pay attention to the language. The linguistic options are endless, with content in many European languages like Spanish to Asian languages such as Korean. You’ll feel it coming back to you in no time.
Get into the rhythm with music
Similar to television and TV shows, music can also help you get back into it with your language fluency. Music is also a lot more accessible than television. Platforms like YouTube and Spotify act as hosts for global artists. You can use these services for free or pay small fees in order to gain access to unlimited music.
How does this help your language bank? In the same way that watching media helps you to follow an interaction within a language. That is, music can refresh you on your rhythmic fluency. Listen to the pattern of the language. Listen also to the cadence with which it’s spoken while you try and understand the words.
YouTube tutorials are great teachers
Here’s a fun way to refresh your language fluency: take an action word you know in the language you want to improve (e.g. cooking, climbing, building, singing, etc.) and search that word and “tutorial” on YouTube and choose a few videos to watch. For an extra challenge, do not watch the visual explanation the second time around. How much of the tutorial can you understand now?!
You can jumpstart your brain’s ability to recognize words and phrases by doing this, since the video provides you with a visual association. This exercise is also great for those just learning languages. It helps anyone to better correlate words with their meaning. The language used in these kinds of videos is also more spontaneous, and perhaps more true to life than scripted programs.
Make your phone addiction a positive habit
Do you often find yourself scrolling through Instagram or playing phone games? Why not use that time to enhance your language skills? Apps are always a quick and easy way to refresh your language fluency. They are especially great when it comes to simple vocabulary and quick language reminders. Download something like Duolingo and select your language. Go through the stages as you can and you’ll feel your vocabulary come rushing back to you.
Don’t be too alarmed if you feel like your language skills are slipping — it happens to even the most talented linguist. Just do whatever it takes to get your language fluency back on track!