If you have been reading this blog for a while, you will know about the huge amount of resources available online to learn English. The reality, however, is that many students will get excited about all this information and absorb it all… temporarily. After a while, they will forget what they learned.
I see this all the time as a teacher. A student will come to me and tell me about how long they were studying at their English institute and the good grades they got. The conversation would follow with me saying something like: “Great!, and what are you doing with your English right now?”. When I say this, they will reply something like: “I studied it then but haven’t really used it since I graduated…only occasionally”. The story repeats again.
Why you should maintain your English skills
Remember that you have put a lot of time into learning English, and I assume you don’t want all that time to be wasted. Want to know how to avoid this? Maintain your language skills. Many people consider English as another college subject they can just study for, pass a test and forget about it.
The thing about English is that, although certification and courses are a good thing to have, at the end of the day, what employers and people care about is how proficient you are with it. Don’t be of that group that only studies English as an obligation or a requirement. Be of those who always improve and you will see the results of studying all those English grammar books!
Here I present you with some tips you can apply to maintain and improve your English every day.
How to avoid forgetting a language in 8 tips
Consider English as a never-ending journey
I remember a read a story once about a really respected musician that went to one of the most prestigious schools in the world. He said that while studying there, he could see two types of students. There were the ones that were always practicing with their instruments and looking at new techniques and styles on their own outside of class. The other group wanted all this information to be spoon-fed to them. He mentioned that he would always see the first group succeed and the second to give up.
This applies to English perfectly. Be of those who are always looking for ways to improve, not the ones that what this information to be brought to them!
Set specific goals to improve your skills
This will motivate you to continuously improve your skills by giving you clear objectives. You could set your goal to learn 10 business-related words, to read a book a month in English or to study 30 minutes every day.
You need to make these goals specific, as this will make them easier to meet. For instance, deciding to learn 5 new words today is a lot easier to achieve that a vague goal, like “I want to study more today.”
Use Netflix for a good purpose
If you have used it, you know how addictive Netflix can become. At least in this way, you will be using it to improve your English. By watching two hours of TV series in English every day (trust me, this is not hard to do) you will practice regularly. Netflix is always expanding its offerings, so there’s plenty of great content to help reinforce your skills.
Hire a teacher to check on your English from time to time
Although I am a big believer in learning on your own, there comes a time when you need someone to correct your mistakes. Practice is not the only thing you need, but rather to practice correctly. In these cases, it is useful to have a lesson or two with a teacher of your preference. This way, the teacher will address the specific areas you make the most mistakes and give you tips and exercises to get better.
Make friends with other native speakers of your target language
It’s nice to have friends, but having friends is even nicer when those friends help you keep your language skills up. If you already have a friend who speaks your target language, all you have to do is converse with them in that language to keep from forgetting it. If you don’t already have a friend who speaks your target language, there are plenty of ways to make friends. For instance, you might connect with native speakers on italki, an online service that makes it easy for you to browse and connect with exchange partners who are right for you.
However, there’s a difference between simple language exchange and long-term friendship. In fact, language exchange usually isn’t intended to be life-long. So if you’re hoping to turn your language exchange partnership into a long-term one, it’s important to select the right partner. Look for people with shared interests, and be sure to share the main interests in your profile. The more you have in common, the easier it will be to make a deeper connection that can last a lifetime.
Read books in your target language
If you’re one of those people who loves to read a good book before bed, you can easily convert your bedtime reading habit into an excellent language refresher by reading books in English. For free books, you might try Project Gutenberg, which offers an array of classic books in English and other languages.
To stay up to date on the latest books in your target language, you might try checking Goodreads lists to see what other readers are enjoying. From there, there are links to help you find where to purchase a book. To get the most out of your evening reading, try reading aloud. This way, you’ll not only reinforce your reading skills, you’ll also keep up your speaking practice.
Travel to an English speaking country!
Traveling to a place where English is spoken can help you practice using your skills in context. Over the length of your trip, you might even notice more and more of your language skills coming back to you.
But beyond that, traveling abroad can also increase your motivation to keep studying English. After all, if you have a great trip, you’ll want to make your next trip even better by better understanding it.
But the learning doesn’t need to be reserved just for your time abroad. You can research your trip in English for an extra learning boost. Look for the official pages of tourist sites, peruse hotel websites (both big and boutique) and assess restaurant menus to see where you might like to eat. All of these activities can help reinforce your language skills while getting you excited for your upcoming trip.
Make it a part of your everyday life
I wanted to start with this tip, as in my opinion is the foundation of all the steps ahead. If you want to not forget English, you need to make it a part of your life! Don’t fall into the category of people that study a language, achieve a certain level and forget about it. Be of those few that make the language a part of their life. You can do so in many ways, as you will notice in the next tips. You can make English the default language of all your devices, for example.