When is the best time to "park" a language

General discussion about learning languages

What level can you drop a language and pick it up again later with relative ease?

A1
1
2%
A2
4
6%
B1
11
17%
B2
34
53%
C1
10
16%
C2
4
6%
 
Total votes: 64

rfnsoares
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby rfnsoares » Mon Sep 02, 2019 12:28 pm

I've answered the poll (B2) considering only the passive skills, listening and reading. I'm completely satisfied if I'm able to read newspapers, novels, blogs, etc and watch youtube videos in my target languages. This year I barely touched my French and I still can read and listen at the same level I did last year.
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby Aloyse » Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:17 pm

In 2019 even if you stop actively studying a language, you can still passively receive it without effort through subscribing to youtube channels, having a few news sites bookmarked and other online material. Depending on your ISP and internet speed, you can even subscribe to foreign TV channels.

(Unless it is a language with very few online resources) you don't need to go out of your way to find books, tapes, CDs etc anymore.

So ideally I would actively study until B1-B2 level or whatever level gives you access to partial understanding of native material and then (if you want to "park" the language) stop active study but keep receiving a daily dose of passive exposure while you go about your life.

For languages which still have very little presence online, it's a different matter... but for those I find it very difficult to go past A2 level anyway due to lack of material !
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby dicentra8 » Mon Sep 02, 2019 6:25 pm

I voted for B2 but I would also include higher levels, just like trui wrote
trui wrote:Like others have said, if by "park" you don't mean completely abandoning it-- then B2 or more, the higher the better.

If you mean not touch it at all, well, language attrition can even happen with one's native language.

The only language I might have near that level is Japanese and at the moment it is somehow "parked", specially since I haven't applied for another JLPT exam since I passed the N3. From what I gathered that level corresponds to B1 and I feel ok even if I haven't done any intensive study with it. But I do have contact with Japanese on a daily basis, it just isn't a very intensive study one.

With Finnish, at the time I started for the first time, if I was even just 1 week without touching it I would have to start again from the very beginning. Recently (I'm still very beginner level) but the fact that I keep a contact with it on a daily basis helps me to not completely lose everything like it happened (several times) during the first time!

But overall the best, in my opinion, would be a solid-confortable B2 and/or above level.
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby gsbod » Fri Sep 06, 2019 5:09 pm

I think your ability to pick a language back up with relative ease is dependent on a number of factors, including:

- How close it is to your native language/another language you know well
- How long you studied it for
- How well you learned what you studied (this is not the same as what level you reached, rather how well you memorized whatever vocab/grammar you studied at that level)
- How much incidental use of the language happens when you are not actively maintaining it

So, I can much more easily reactivate my B1-at-best French than my at-one-time-B2 Japanese.

My C1 German requires no reactivation, of course, because I just keep using it.
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Postby Morgana » Sat Sep 07, 2019 7:13 pm

Last edited by Morgana on Mon Nov 25, 2019 10:01 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby StringerBell » Sat Sep 07, 2019 9:06 pm

Morgana wrote:
gsbod wrote:- How well you learned what you studied (this is not the same as what level you reached, rather how well you memorized whatever vocab/grammar you studied at that level)
I wasn't going to participate in this thread because I don't really have experience related to the topic, but then, gsbod, you wrote this.

I know it's often recommended one get to B2 or better before moving on from a language, because allegedly that's the level one needs to be at to not forget most or all of everything. But I never understood what was magical about this level. And in any case my A2 French is super-duper easy to pick up (I'm not even sure it counts as "forgotten") because I had 10+ years of French instruction that never got much past A2 via the public education system. So even though my French sucks, it's always with me.

So hey, I guess if anyone wants to spend 10 years spinning their wheels at a low level, they can park that language too, and trust they'll be able to return to that low level without much, if any, hassle!


I totally agree.

I spend a million years studying French in school. I haven't thought about French for more than 20 years, but when I look at basic A level French stuff, I realize that I remember almost everything. I never reached a high level, but the little I learned (days of the week, numbers, basic sentences) I learned so well that I can't make them go away even if I try!

I also "parked" Italian repeatedly for many years; even after returning to it after not thinking about it for 2 years, I remembered the little I'd learned since I think I learned it fairly well. I also think parking a language and successfully returning to it is more about how well you learned it in the first place.
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby zenmonkey » Sat Sep 07, 2019 10:51 pm

While I think "best" time is further along - I chose B2.
However, I think B1 is in the "possible and recoverable" phase. Every time I've parked a language at A1 --- well, might as well drop it.
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby tarvos » Mon Sep 09, 2019 9:05 am

I think B2 is a threshold rather than an absolute. I think it's important to keep that in mind. You don't have to park there, it's just when it becomes an option.
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby reineke » Thu Dec 19, 2019 9:02 am

You normally "park" your rides with the intention of hopping back in the driver's seat at some later point in time.

A1-A2 you call that a car?
B1 - that's parking your vehicle in a really unsafe part of town. You should do that only for short periods of time.
B2 is a serious danger zone as this level represents a sufficient amount of effort that will likely hurt if you were to let deteriorate too far.

"...there is a 25 percent probability that level 2 linguists will fall to 1+ during the first year. This probability decreases to roughly 10 percent for level 2+ linguists and 5 percent for level 3 linguists...

Near the end of the survival analysis timeline, roughly a 10-year period, the probability of an event has risen to 90 percent for level 2 linguists, 70 percent for level 2+ linguists, and 50 percent for level 3 linguists."

Modeling second language change using skill retention theory
Shearer, Samuel

ILR 3+ = Firm C1
ILR 3 = B2+/C1
ILR 2/2+ = B2/B2+
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Re: When is the best time to "park" a language

Postby garyb » Thu Dec 19, 2019 10:56 am

I stopped French a few years ago at around C1 receptive, high B2 productive, although I kept up a bit of exposure through podcasts, films, books, and Anki. I found that my listening and reading ability didn't deteriorate at all, while my speaking and writing got quite rusty. With a bit of practice I can get them going more smoothly again but even at that they just don't flow the way they did when I was actively studying and my production is less natural and idiomatic. Just as productive skills are much harder to develop than receptive ones, it appears that they're harder to maintain, although maybe if they had been at a solid C1 I would've lost less.

On the other hand, my accent improved after I parked the language! I've no idea if that was just coincidence, or that I had been trying too hard and getting in my own way, or that frequent speaking had been reinforcing bad habits...

I parked Spanish at around B1, maybe low B2 receptive, for a while and I lost more in terms of both speaking and understanding.

I've abandoned a few beginner languages and forgotten quite a lot, although some of the very basics have stayed.
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