English is great. You can speak it basically anywhere and people will understand you. It's so handy! You only need to learn one language and you're set for life! Unless you're really into learning new languages, studying grammar and vocabulary for a completely new language - especially on your own and without a teacher, and especially as an adult - can be a pain in the butt. And unless you're a masochist, perhaps you don't want to do that.
But did you study a foreign language at school when you were younger? And have you since forgotten how to speak that language? Picking up a language that was programmed into your head back when your head was easily molded is far easier than learning a new language from scratch later.
So if you want to brush up your forgotten language skills, don't worry - it's much easier than trying to learn a new language. It's almost as if you were to dust the attic and find a switch under the dirt. You just need to find it and click it. Here are my favourite ways to do it.
1. Watch a TV show
Find a TV show in your target language - preferably so that the original audio is in that language and not dubbed. For example, I used to watch this German soap opera Sturm der Liebe to keep my German skills at an adequate level. The characters speak clearly and don't have accents so it's easy to keep up. You may not understand everything at first, but once you get used to the talk and deduct the meanings of words from context, you'll be good.
2. Read grammar or idiom books
Picking up a French book without preparation and trying to make sense of it sounds terrible - even if you have a dictionary at hand. But old grammar books from school? They usually have the translation ready, and the language isn't trying to be artsy or anything else too fancy. If you've happened to keep your old grammar or idiom books, get them, and speak out loud everything that's in the target language in the book. This will definitely jumpstart finding and clicking the switch, and you'll practice your pronunciation in the process.
3. Listen to radio
This is somewhat similar to number 1 of this list, except that the language spoken in the radio is usually faster and has multiple accents. So once you're comfortable with watching the TV show, you can upgrade the difficulty level by tuning in on a foreign news station. This, too, can be hard at first, but you'll get used to the accents fast and you'll be able to deduct the meanings of words from the context.
There! Whether you're about to travel to a new country or want to just get back your lost talents, these three activities are sure to help you refresh your language skills.
Have a nice weekend!