Keeping Up Your High School Foreign Language

I kick myself for not practicing my French more often after having taken over four years of classes in school.  Realistically I should be able to babble on without trouble, but the truth is my vocabulary is dwindling (and don’t get me started on my grammar)!  This has gotten me thinking of ways I can sneak in language lessons on the go, and as part of my everyday life. After all, it is invaluable to be able to communicate when traveling abroad as well as understand the subtle nuances of a culture through its language.  Here is a list of some fun and mostly inexpensive ways to keep those language skills up!

  • Change the settings on your phone. Change the language settings on your smartphone and use Google Maps in the same way to get in the habit of hearing and reading simple day-to-day information. This will also encourage you to write notes and to-do lists in the language you are learning.

  • Grocery lists. Keep up the foodie vocab by writing your grocery lists in the foreign language. You most likely will have to use your language dictionary to look some up.

  • Play “I Spy” in the language. Sure, if you know someone else who is learning the language it would be ideal, but you can easily play “I Spy” alone in your car. Name out loud all that you see to help you recall vocabulary.

  • Duolingo. This is a great free app that you can have on your tablet, phone, or computer to practice 14 different languages. Similar to a Rosetta Stone, you can use your device’s microphone to practice pronunciation.

  • Coffee Break podcasts. Offered in French, Spanish, and German, these podcasts are an easy and quick way to slip in a language lesson over your lunch break, while you do your makeup, or in the car.

  • Meetup groups. Research groups in your area that meet up regularly and converse in the language you are learning. Practice is the best way to get better!

Travel. If you can, immerse yourself. Speaking with natives may make you want to run and hide, but once you are there and forced to navigate new streets and new ways, the fun really begins!