March 09, 2014

How to keep remembering a foreign language after you graduate

I'm sure you've heard the saying, "if you don't lose it, you lose it." Well, it's definitely true when it comes to remembering a foreign language. I started learning Spanish in elementary school, took classes in high school, and minored in Spanish in college. I even studied abroad in Spain two summers ago, and became fluent in the language. So imagine my panic attack when the other day I couldn't remember how to say a simple phrase in Spanish.

I hadn't been using my Spanish, and I was starting to lose it. I've heard way too many stories of older adults saying how they "used to know Spanish/French/Italian/German, but stopped using it and completely forgot the language," and I don't want that to happen to me!

Even though I'm no longer taking Spanish courses in college, I have written out some other ways that I can interact with the language throughout the week and keep my speaking, writing, interpreting, and translating skills sharp. Being able to say you're fluent in another language is very impressive when it comes to applying for jobs, and I want Spanish to remain one of my standout skills. So here's what I'm committing to doing more of so that I will interact with Spanish throughout the week:

How to use it, so you don't lose it
Text friends who are native speakers in Spanish

Communicate with another friend who is learning/knows Spanish, in Spanish

Watch TV shows and movies in Spanish

Read/watch U.S. news in that language

Change my Facebook/Twitter/MacBook to Spanish

Change my iPhone to Spanish on the weekends (it changes some of your email correspondence to the language as well, FYI)

Take notes for another class in Spanish

Read signs/billboards in Spanish

When I meet someone who speaks Spanish, practice with him/her

Practice my Spanish at Mexican restaurants

Listen to Spanish music/Spanish radio stations/Spanish Pandora stations

Take an occasional course on Spanish (online or in a community classroom)

Browse through old Spanish course notes on road trips

Keep a notebook where I write down one word/phrase in Spanish and the translation every day

Do you know another language besides your native language? 
How do you keep up with it ?


  1. These are all great pointers!

    It's been years since I've been able to speak conversational Spanish & French. Maybe I should look into a refresher course and then put your ideas into action.

    Thanks for sharing Vett!

    Eesh | The Other Side of Paradise

  2. This is great advice, I took Russian since elementary school but once high school ended I stopped and I've forgotten so much of it! I regret it now.

  3. I started learning Italian through the Mindsnacks app last year, and I really enjoyed it! But when I got a new phone in the fall, I never redownloaded the app. I JUST downloaded it again thanks to this post :)

    I end up commuting an hour round trip to and from work, so I'm thinking about getting some of those cheesy CD's and working on it a little each day.

    XX, SS || A Little Seersucker Sass

    1. those are great ideas! And I'll have to check out that app, thanks!

  4. I started using Duolingo app to help keep me sharp & grow my Spanish skills. I knew so much more before law school & now my mind is so filled with other stuff that I struggle to remember simple things I learned in the past. Definitely have to keep it in use so you don't forget...

  5. imagine the irony if you forgot how to speak a mother language

  6. Vett, that is so awesome! I didn't know you knew Spanish fluently! You go girl!

  7. Great advices, we know english and one of us is an english teacher but we are spanish, we can teach you ;)
    Can you help us to win our Dressale whislist? You only must enter and click the links here:
    If we arrive to 200clicks, we can get the clothes, thanks!


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