Maintaining language skills after studying abroad

One of my biggest worries about coming back to the US was regressing in my language abilities and losing the opportunity to speak Spanish all the time.  Some amount of regression is probably inevitable when you aren’t speaking the language, but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to maintain it!  Here’s a list of resources and ways I’ve brainstormed to keep some level of immersion in my life.

Podcasts

This is probably what I’ve liked the best and found the most helpful.  I think my comprehension of spoken Spanish is one of the areas in which my language skills improved the most during my time in Mexico, so finding a way to keep listening to it was important for me.

  • Radio Ambulante–distributed by NPR, tells the stories of people from a variety Spanish speaking countries.
  • Así Como Suena–a Mexican podcast telling “stories that deserved to be heard”

YouTube

Similar to podcasts, watching Spanish-speaking YouTubers is another way to keep listening or to work on comprehension. I really like
Superholly and also recommend Hola Sunshine. There are many more; those are just the two I’m most familiar with!

Books

Reading is a great way to build your vocabulary, and depending on what you’re reading, it can be another way to get a sense of slang or more colloquial language.

You can always find a list of classics in whatever your target language is, but for slightly lighter reading, I recommend going to your local library and seeing what’s on the shelf in the foreign language section.

One tip:  Look up words you don’t know as you read and then screenshot the definition.  Later go back and make a list of all the new words you’ve come across!

Music

I’m never sure how much listening to music in Spanish really helps me, but if nothing else, the language starts to sound more and more familiar. There are many, many artists on Spotify to listen to, or you can look for Spanish radio stations in your area.

Volunteer

The best way to maintain a language is obviously to use it in daily life, so look for opportunities to use your second language in your community back home. This is fairly easy if you speak Spanish but may be harder with other languages.

What suggestions do you have? I’d love to add to this list!


5 thoughts on “Maintaining language skills after studying abroad

  1. In the past 10 years, I’ve studied Mandarin, Thai and now Spanish. Maintaining skills and retaining vocabulary is so very difficult. Some good suggestions on how to use it or lose it. 🙂

    Like

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