1. Forum
  2. >
  3. Topic: Duolingo
  4. >
  5. When can you stop learning a …


When can you stop learning a language?

So when you study a language for years

And you're fluent.

If you stop learning a language, will you always be fluent?

Like if Benny Lewis stopped learning all his languages, would he remain fluent until he dies?

When does a secondary language come as easily as a native one?

September 17, 2017



You'll lose your ability to some extent if you don't use the language in some way. At the very least, it will be rusty and you'll have to make an effort to get it back to speed. Some people even lose their first language. Both my husband and sister spoke a different language until they were two. Now, neither one of them can remember that language at all. http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-magazine-monitor-27690891

On the other hand, using a language doesn't necessarily mean studying by doing grammar exercises or translation. Most people learn a language so that they can read, listen, write, or speak. If you like other languages, it's fun to continually learn something new. You'll think you understand something at one point, then you learn something else that gives you an even deeper and wider understanding.

As far as "when" a language comes easily, it depends on many different factors: motivation, how much time you have to devote to learning or using the language, as well as how inhibited you feel doing certain tasks in other languages.

For those of us who love other languages, it doesn't matter how long it takes, we are motivated to continue regardless.

  • 1968

I wouldn't be concerned if someone "spoke" their language until they were two and then lost it... That's even to be expected... because how much do you really speak a language when you are two? Most people cannot remember anything from before they were 3 years old.. not to mention a whole language from the year before :-) ... Just yesterday I saw a lady on TV that moved to USA when she was 15 and now she only speaks our native language very bad. That is something really sad and not so much expected.


Agreed. It is sad, but it illustrates that if you don't practice or use a language, even your native language, you can begin to lose your abilities. The people who move to the US but continue to speak their native language don't lose it. So, we all have to practice, and that is especially true if it's not our native language.



I've been speaking English for almost 40 years, as a native, and I still learn more all the time.

Stop when you think you're good enough, but you can never be too good.

  • 1968

I call myself fluent in English and I stopped actually learning it years ago (by that I mean the language classes). But when you use the language you always learn something new. Since I use English every day I don't lose my abilities and I am even still getting better and better.

The bottom line is it's like riding a bike. If you once learned it the future depends of how often you ride it. If you ride a bike every day you will be a better biker than someone who didn't use it for years... they will still be able to get on and ride it but not with so much skill (at least at first)... Hope this helps.

EDIT: to answer your other question... In my opinion your second language will feel as easy as your first one when you start to think in it. I see it as there are more levels of fluency and this is possibly the highest one: when you don't care which language you use, when you are understood on the same level in both languages, when you even dream in the other language, when you read or hear something and later you cannot recall in which language it was... one could also describe this as a bilingualism. And when exactly does it come? That depends how much you practice, where you live, if you have certain talent for languages in general (or at least how good command you have of your own native language)... I could write a book on this so I will stop here :-)


Thanks for the input.

  • 1968

No problem, I also edited the comment and answered your second question :-)


I am in total agreement here when you learn a language particularly one you immerse yourself in there comes a point which you stop doing the mundane task of verb drills and word memorizations and you just continually practice with those you added to your community in the whole adventure to begin with. I will probably always be in communication with my Czech teacher and many of my friends with whom I speak Czech but that doesn't mean I will always be studying it :) It is a journey and its all dependent on how far you want to take it. I desire to be able to communicate with people where that takes me in a language is all a matter of how much access I have to participating in that particular community. :) I spent about 6 months in language school and learned far less in that time (5hrs /day 5 days a week) than I have acquired in the last three months just by putting my Czech into practice :) its motivation :)


Honestly? I am not sure you ever stop learning a language no matter how fluent you are. Even if it is not actively (like doing grammar or vocabulary exercises) if you keep using it one way or another, you always end up encountering new expressions, or words that you didn't know (or that you were pronouncing wrong all along. Happened to me)

Also, a secondary language comes as easily as your native one when you start thinking in it, IMHO


You never really stop learning a language. Every week or two it seems, I learn a new word in English. If I stop learning it now I'd be stuck writing basic vocabulary. But it's difficult to do that since I'm pretty much an autodidact.


I think if you don't use it you could lose it. My aunt (deceased) was French and when she was in her twenties she met and fell in love with my mother's brother a soldier in service, they married and came to England to live. In those times there was no internet and international phone calls and international travel were expensive, they had children in England and she just corresponded with her family by letter and did not otherwise use her French at all. It was many years before she went back to visit her family in France, on that first visit she initially broke down in tears because her French came so faultingly, however the more she spoke it the better.


Perhaps you mean use it or lose it?


Yes thanks, I've corrected it.


Depends on you. You can always keep practicing but no one is ever 100% fluent at a language. If you do stop learning a language well this is just my guess since I only know English, you might be lowered a little bit at a time unless you do practice and speak the language often. My answer might not be true but it is my guess on what would happen.


this is very true I use English every day in my home but live in a country where it is not spoken outside the home and I find that I am even losing vocabulary that would normally be so typical in my vocabulary. today I told my husband to put my babies sweater overneath his jumper. haha


Hahaha you never stop! :P


Everything you learn needs practice. If you don't practice you forget. It's a human fail. We forget things. Our brains forget things we don't use.


Nah you gotta maintain them or else you'll forget. You can even ''forget'' your native-language. It sucks but our brain is lazy so you have to understand lol.

Learn a language in just 5 minutes a day. For free.