How to keep up with your foreign language.
Ask Get-it-Done Guy: How Can I Practice Foreign Language Skills?
Q. I'm trying to learn a language quickly through self-study. What should I do to reinforce what I'm learning so it sticks?
A. As you undoubtedly know, I have an entire episode devoted to learning a language quickly. But when it comes to reinforcing what you've learned, here's what I recommend. We naturally learn through conversation and listening, not by memorizing grammar and writing. Memory research shows we learn best when we reinforce our memory at various intervals after learning something.
That's why I purchased the Pimsleur language learning system (which uses the above principles) when I wanted to learn a lanugage. I listened to all three levels of German study tapes (90 lessons, 30 minutes per lesson, one per day). By the end of the program, my vocabulary was fairly small, but I was actually thinking in German--at least when my thoughts could be expressed in my limited vocabulary. I was quite impressed.
Over time, my new language skills went away because I didn't use them. To get the language to stick—and to broaden your vocabulary—I suggest spending time with speakers of the language, speaking nothing but the language you're learning.
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