How to Keep Your Foreign Language Skills Sharp?

Foreign Langauge

Learning a foreign language requires a lot of dedication, practice and patience. It is often said that if you stop practicing a foreign language you are likely to forget what you have learned. So what are some of the strategies to keep your foreign language skills from atrophying? Textbook learning is helpful when learning a foreign language, but it is less helpful when trying to retain it. How can one immerse him or herself in a foreign language when he or she doesn’t live in the country which speaks the language in an effort to retain language skills?

Recreate an Immersion Environment: Meetup groups

One of the best ways to keep foreign language skills sharp is by practicing it with native speakers, no matter where you live. Finding native speakers is easier if you live in a cosmopolitan city with a lot of expats. Regardless of where you live, try to find a language meet-up (listed on These types of events, usually taking place at a bar or restaurant, facilitate language immersion and conversation and tend to be organized weekly, biweekly or monthly. This can be a fun way to meet new people and develop local friendships in the language you are trying to retain.

Read, Watch, and Listen to Media in the Foreign Language

Media consumption in the foreign language helps immensely to retain foreign language skills. For instance, watching news broadcasts and reading newspapers in the foreign language can be extremely helpful and improve language retention. If you are a French second language speaker, regularly reading the French newspaper Le Monde is helpful to come to grips with the vocabulary of finance, economics and global affairs in French. Also, watching films in the foreign language (even with subtitles) is a great way to hone your foreign language skills. For example, if you are trying to retain your Spanish language skills, you should try and watch Pedro Almodovar movies on a regular basis, which are entertaining and offer great colloquial vocabulary from the Iberian Peninsula. Downloading podcasts and listening to the radio in the foreign language also helps. Language-learning podcasts are fine, but also treat yourself to podcasts geared towards topics you might be interested in (e.g., sports or fashion).

Use Language Learning Software and Apps

Language-learning software and applications are becoming more affordable and accessible. Programs like Rosetta Stone or Duolingo, although not as effective as true immersion, are helpful for retaining language skills and avoiding regression. Moreover, foreign language apps can be a fun way to keep practicing the foreign language.


 Your knowledge of a foreign language will inevitably fade if you don’t practice it daily but there are ways that you can keep your foreign language skills sharp. Doing so does not have to be a laborious task. In fact there are fun, social and entertaining ways to never forget your second, third or firth foreign language. Start with immersion and you will never be disappointed.

This article is written by a professional writer, Ilaria Ghelardoni, associated with Ulatus.

Share your thoughts