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How do you care about the language you have partially forgotten?

Many of us were learning more than one foreign language during our education. Sometimes it wasn't our choice and we decided not to continue, sometimes we just had no possibility of using it (Now it is much easier while we live in a 'global village', but before the Internet Era - it wasn't so easy).

The wisdom says 'Use it or lose it!'. I've noticed that I have problems with understanding the languages I've learned at school, even though I used to be good at them.

And what about you? Have you forgotten any language you've learned long time ago? Or maybe you noticed that your level significantly decreased? Did you try to refresh this knowledge? Or maybe you just keep on saying 'The time will come and I will surely return to it... but it's not today yet.'?

Mar 15, 2018 9:12 PM
Comments · 8
My hunch is that if you once spoke a language at a reasonably high level (a solid B2 or better) and then didn't use it for a number of years, then you can get it back reasonably quickly. Not overnight, but certainly much faster than you you originally learned it. (Something like that happened to me with French. When I graduated from college, I'd say my French was at B2 level for listening and speaking, and C1 for reading and writing. Then I didn't use it at all for a number of years. And then I moved to France for two years. My French sounded atrocious at first, but I got my previous level back within three months. After that, my French slowly started improving further.) 

But if you were never very good at a language to begin with and then you drop it for a number of years, I think it'll evaporate from your brain more or less completely. If you try to regain your previous level, it'll take (almost) as much time as the first time around (I think). 
March 15, 2018

Hello, Marcin.
I understand what do you mean. I have the same situation with my native Ukrainian language. I've already been living in Poland within nearly 4 years and the most of time I've been using Polish and Russian. Now if I try to tell something in Ukrainian it sounds like a mix of Polish and Ukrainian. But it doesn't mean that I've forgotten my native language, of course not. It just means that I need one or two weeks for practice to remind something I could forget for these years. I reckon it's like bike driving - if you learnt it once, you can't forget how to do it at all.

March 15, 2018

Hello Marcin. I understand you so much, I have the same problem. People don’t understand that when we don’t practice everytime a language we let a part of our  knowledge far away in our brain. On my case, when I speak so much Russian everyday I forget a little bit French, even if it’s my mother language. The same case for the others languages. 

So I try to practice a little bit every languages everyday. For exemple, I will speak to my mother a little bit in Russian, to my brother a little bit in Arabic or phone my grandmother. But that’s true it’s a real problem. 

March 16, 2018
Well, if I cared about it I wouldn't have forgotten it. What happened is that I can understand the language rather well, but produce close to nothing. Recently, under the influence of italki, I've decided to refresh it a bit, but there's always something more important to do. So sometimes I try to listen to at least something, but really not that much.
March 16, 2018

Thanks Amira.

Yes. It's a problem because of the lack of time. I try to read the discussions here in other languages I knew - though I take a part only in English language discussions (English is one of my partially forgotten languages, but I had more or less contact with it all the time, so I've preserved enough of it to communicate with people).

Hopefully, as you answered to my comment in your discussion about the programming languages, everything (or at least considerable part of it) should be somewhere in my brain, waiting to be useful.

March 16, 2018
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Language Skills
English, German, Italian, Other, Polish, Russian, Spanish
Learning Language
English, Spanish