Tuesday, 16 August 2016

When A Change In Routine Wrecks Your Multilingual Practice

A break from the daily grind is a good thing. But not, as it turns out, for my French. I had promised myself I would, at the very least, listen to a French podcast every day, but, as usual under altered circumstances, I’ve done diddly squat.

I’ve been on semi-vacation at my mother’s place in Germany for just over one month now, with two weeks to go before I return to Spain and resume my normal life, which includes a weekly French lesson, French conversation group on Wednesdays and, of course, a daily drip feed of podcasts.

My Portuguese is also suffering. I’ve not been reading any Portuguese books lately, focusing instead on Spanish and German ones. Because, let’s face it, reading in languages you’re competent in is 100% pleasure and 0% effort, and this fits in very nicely with my being in lazing-about mode. Having said that, I’m still exchanging emails, albeit sporadically, with my friend and Portuguese teacher. These take me an embarrassing amount of time to write, but it's totally worth the effort as it keeps the language in the weekly mix, so to speak.

Spending such a large chunk of the summer removed from my usual environment drives it home to me once again just how easy it is for languages to fall by the wayside. Without the force of structured daily discipline behind me, a language that isn't integrated into my life in some meaningful way just slips down the back of the mental sofa. For me, the hook that keeps a language anchored firmly in my little sandbox is being able to use it with people who are close to me. 

French is by far my weakest language and therefore most at risk from (temporary) abandonment and rapid erosion. At present, chatting away in French with native speaker friends is still a distant dream. And the more I neglect my daily practice, I realise, the more distant it becomes. 

Well, no point whining... time to hatch a French-resuscitation plan… watch this space!

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