Ticking Over – Practising Languages Over Summer
As I have previously mentioned, this summer, much to my own partial disappointment, I am spending the majority of my time in England rather than abroad. This is due to a 10-week internship that I managed to secure at the end of 2016. Naturally, it is a great opportunity and it will (hopefully) work some magic for my CV yet I must not forget that there is another year of study to undertake come late September so practising my languages is very important. If I’m honest, even if you do manage to get abroad, often it isn’t as useful as you might think. Sure, a week in Berlin might help you a little if you manage to grab a 20-minute conversation with a German bloke in a club which is forgotten by the morning, or maybe you could listen to the safety announcements on the Metro during a long-weekend in Paris but ultimately the best way to retain your languages is to actually dedicate some time to it rather than relying on passive methods. With that in mind, today my list features four ways in which you can practice your foreign languages consistently during the summer.
First off is a website which I have used with great frequency in the past, Conversation Exchange. The website offers a free, online community where linguists of all levels can arrange to converse and meet with the intention of mutually sharing language help. It is a great way of practising your speaking skills while also allowing you to make some great friends.
Perhaps, if like me you live in a boring, rural area, Conversation Exchange is about as lively as an alcohol-free club night so you need a different option. If this is the case, there are plenty of free, online language learning platforms which can help you keep your brain ticking over on the linguistic front. My personal favourite is Duolingo, purely because of its depressing ability to expose embarrassing gaps in my vocabulary. It also gives a nice visual aid to your progress which can be useful when looking for motivation to do work during time-off from studies.
Another simple trick is listening to music in different languages. Understandably, it doesn’t help for speaking or writing as much as other methods but one cannot doubt that listening to foreign songs can help you to tune your ear (pardon the pun). It is just one more way in which you can ensure that the intonations, rhythm and structure of your chosen languages aren’t forgotten. Moreover, you have the chance to encounter some absolute belters!
Lastly, there is a personal favourite of mine – tutoring. Perhaps it is because, to me, teaching is a very rewarding past-time but studies have shown that knowledge-retention is most effective for material which you have taught to someone else, so what better way is there to ensure that you have fully absorbed certain information? Advertising yourself locally as a tutor can lead to a whole host of benefits, including (but not limited to): practising your language skills, earning valuable experience for your CV, earning some dollar bills (which is never a bad thing) and also fighting boredom. It is definitely a worthy consideration.
Good luck to all, make sure you don’t neglect your languages over the holidays!