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How to retain a language!?


I always hear 'just 15 minutes of a language every day', 'little and often' and so on! However I'm wondering how busy people like me develop their language learning (for any languages)?

Personally I find life getting in the way a lot. I do practise languages almost daily, but all too often there will be days or sometimes over a week that I miss (which I suppose is natural??). I am enthusiastic but just tight for time, so must you study a language every day for it to develop?

Sometimes I come back to a language after just 3 days off and, especially with a language that I don't have much experience of yet, I spend the time re-learning the things I learnt last time instead of moving forward and learning lots of new phrases! (Not mentioning any names.....Turkish..)

How can I retain the information?


July 7, 2017



W/ time limited to less than 1/2 to 1 hour per day, work on only one language until you really feel you know it . . . or at least until you finish a tree. (IMHO.)


Thanks. I've been learning three languages simultaneously for years now, and got to a good level (& finished my French tree this evening) but I agree, I think to progress more I need to immerse myself in one language at a time. Thank you


You're welcome. Which do you think you'll choose, if you do restrict yourself that way? Always a quandary, at least for me.


I'm not sure yet, because I love them all! Maybe Italian. I am loving the Portuguese language but as I'm at a higher level in Italian already then I think I'll continue with Italian first. :) Also you've got such a long streak!! Nice one


If you read/watch/listen to the news as part of your regular routine, switch to sources that report the news in your target language, instead of your base language. BBC World news offers the news in several different languages. I used ReadLang to help me with the words I encountered here and there that I wasn't familiar with.

Replicate this switch out process wherever possible, until the language practice isn't taking up extra time, it's just replacing the language you were already using in that time slot. :)


iMuchas gracias! Listening is the part I find most difficult (out of listening, speaking, reading and writing) so i'm hoping that this method will help me a lot.


This is a great way to do it! I've been taking in my daily dose of world news in German (which is my third language and the one I'm currently am trying most to improve) and it works great. I can recommend the podcast from http://dw.com/deutschlernen for others in the same situation.


Have you looked at the Chrome extension Flip Word? I use it to practice Japanese vocabulary. While I am browsing in English, it will randomly change words to Japanese and when I click on it, it gives the meaning of the word. Sometimes there are multiple choice questions. I don't have a lot of time to spend on Japanese, and this way I can fit some review into my news reading time.


I forgot about Flip Word! When I first read about it, it was still a concept in design. Glad to know it's out there now! Would you say it is your favorite non-Duolingo learning resource? If so, would you add it to the list here: https://www.duolingo.com/comment/23407582 ?


Pretty much just be very consistent with it every day, and making sure you understand everything.


Thanks, I 100% agree with the understanding part too. When you understand how a language works it makes it so much easier to remember it.


Personally, I find that taking a very long extended break from learning a language (in general or just from one specific language) gives the knowledge time to 'sink in'. When coming back to the language, it seems like things I struggled with before now actually make sense. Still, even when taking breaks, I do like to spend some time just listening to some music in that language. Sometimes I understand part of wahst's being sung, oftentimes not. Still, I'm having fun, I am enjoying the language and that's what important: to enjoy the languge. If you don't, your brains will simply refuse to soak up the knowledge.

Basically: constant practice is not necessary. Just enjoy the language and things will start falling into place.


thank you very much!


I do an exercise during the morning toilet visit. Its a great way to wake up and start your day.


This tip reminds me of an old discussion that cracked me up called, Duolingo in the bathroom!?.


Haha, thanks for the tip!!


Just repetition and practice. Don't try and remember everything, though. Build from the basics up. Also your passive knowledge will be greater than what you can actively use.


When people are talking about 15 minutes a day, they are usually talking about 15 minutes for one language. You can take a few days off, but if you don't have any reasons to think about or use your target language during that time, you will find that you don't make progress quickly.



Practice is really the only way, there is no short-cut to learning a language. You don't have to practice every day, as long as you do it frequently and don't let your studies lie for weeks or months on end. I also try to practice when I am not at home, by listening to songs in my target language and reading books. Children's books are best for beginners because their language is easier. I always take them with me to read in the train and bus when on my way to school or work.

Also try scheduling practise time on a set time and day(For example twice or trice a week, right before or after dinner). I always felt like I had no time untill I started scheduling about ten minutes a day for my studies on Duolingo. Looking back on it, I really did have the time for it before, I just didn't realise I did because I was so overwhelmed with other things.


Thank you very much! I will try listening to more music and reading books in the languages I'm learning. I listened to songs in Portuguese and that's how I learnt about half of the Portuguese that I know! It's a good idea to schedule it into your day, I'll see how that works out. :)


I agree with what you both say about practicing. What helps me is to write down all the words I learned for the day and practice saying them, writing them, understanding how to put them in sentences, and understanding the definition of the word. I say the best place to be is to get the language to be subconscious. Meaning that you can recall words instantly and to say them, like your native tongue.


thank you, i appreciate these tips :)

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