One of the pleasures in learning a new language is arriving at the stage where you can actually communicate! The basics are behind you, the simple vocabulary and grammar rules have been memorized, congratulations! But once you get pretty good at a new language it can be tricky to push yourself to a higher level, or if you are not lucky enough to live where the language is spoken, you might need to put in effort so you do not lose what you have worked hard to gain.
One of the best ways to keep a new language active and evolving is to engage in conversations about subjects you find interesting. Not only does this engage the basic tools of the language (listening and speaking) you also get to learn the words that are particular to the subject. It is a pleasure to practice your new language when you can focus on your interests, not just on the study of the language itself. It is like you are secret-studying by exercising the language while focusing on the subject at hand!
Living in France, I have found that being in situations where I just needed to communicate in French, like at dinner parties or speaking with my son’s teachers at school, my brain had to shift into a different gear than when I was studying a text book. Sink or swim! When I really wanted to communicate, it was like I forgot that I was speaking in French and my brain focused on what I needed to say in the moment. That is when my language skills really improved!
So, I suggest finding a way to regularly activate your language skills by discussing things you find interesting. At my online education center, Juku Kristi, I have started some small weekly conversation groups with this idea in mind. Sure, it is best to meet face to face but in this busy world sometimes it is nice to simply be at home and meet on the internet!
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