Returning to a language where you once had fluency

General discussion about learning languages
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Le Baron
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Re: Returning to a language where you once had fluency

Postby Le Baron » Tue Feb 23, 2021 3:55 pm

The common view is that it's like a muscle that was once trained and so more quickly gets back to peak condition than a muscle that has to be trained from scratch. However I always find myself in the dual position of being, on the one hand, glad to have a something to there revive, but that it's also a bit discouraging when you know where you were compared to where you are!

I previously lived in Belgium and used French every day. I've also had a passive (and more limited working) knowledge of it since youth, but the fact remains if you don't use it the language atrophies to varying degrees. Sometimes I'm shocked when I can't find the words or constructions that years ago I could use with such ease. So now I periodically go about overhauling French with a good 2-3 months intensive work when I feel it slipping at all. Reading, mostly listening to radio/videos/TV and seeking speaking opportunities. The 'taalcafé' was good for the latter until Covid shut down all the cafes, but I have a Francophone friend who visits once or twice a week. I also visit a Spanish friend.

This is always a worry for me because I'm not like those people who seem to retain a high working level in many languages.
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tungemål
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Re: Returning to a language where you once had fluency

Postby tungemål » Tue Feb 23, 2021 4:42 pm

What will you lose in a language that you don't use for years?
I've got the impression that you'll lose active vocabulary and speaking skills first. Then passive vocabulary outside of the core vocabulary. But it will easily come back again. Listening skills that you've acquired won't disappear.
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leosmith
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Re: Returning to a language where you once had fluency

Postby leosmith » Wed Feb 24, 2021 12:33 am

tungemål wrote:What will you lose in a language that you don't use for years?
I've got the impression that you'll lose active vocabulary and speaking skills first. Then passive vocabulary outside of the core vocabulary. But it will easily come back again. Listening skills that you've acquired won't disappear.

Are you saying you think you'll lose your strongest/best-known vocabulary before your weakest/least-known vocabulary?
Last edited by leosmith on Thu Feb 25, 2021 12:12 am, edited 1 time in total.
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tungemål
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Re: Returning to a language where you once had fluency

Postby tungemål » Wed Feb 24, 2021 7:41 am

leosmith wrote:
tungemål wrote:What will you lose in a language that you don't use for years?
I've got the impression that you'll lose active vocabulary and speaking skills first. Then passive vocabulary outside of the core vocabulary. But it will easily come back again. Listening skills that you've acquired won't disappear.

Are you saying you think you'll use your strongest/best-known vocabulary before your weakest/least-known vocabulary?


Assuming you mean "lose" and not "use" - active skills (speaking) detoriate before passive skills (listening), is what I mean.
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leosmith
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Re: Returning to a language where you once had fluency

Postby leosmith » Thu Feb 25, 2021 12:29 am

tungemål wrote:
leosmith wrote:
tungemål wrote:What will you lose in a language that you don't use for years?
I've got the impression that you'll lose active vocabulary and speaking skills first. Then passive vocabulary outside of the core vocabulary. But it will easily come back again. Listening skills that you've acquired won't disappear.

Are you saying you think you'll use your strongest/best-known vocabulary before your weakest/least-known vocabulary?


Assuming you mean "lose" and not "use" - active skills (speaking) detoriate before passive skills (listening), is what I mean.

Thanks - edited.
So are you saying that, in general, the time in takes you to forget a passive word is longer than the time it takes for an active word to degrade to passive?
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