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Polyglots: how do you maintain/use all those languages?

The ones that you have already learned. i would be interested in the answer.

September 30, 2017



The key to maintaining languages is to use them regularly or at least to expose yourself to them on a regular basis. I'd recommend reading. Pick something that's at your level and read a bit every day. This way you'll keep learning new vocabulary apart from practicing the language. Music is also something I use to practice understanding speech in the language. Check out the site site if you don't already know it. It's a good place to practice your oral comprehension skills while enjoying some nice songs. Also, speak the language whenever you can. Finding a language partner or just a friend who speaks the language and could practice with you would be ideal. Whatever you do, DON'T neglect a language you know. I did that with German while I was focusing on Portuguese and I really regret it. A year or so ago my level was around B1 (according to some online test) and now it's practically zero. Thankfully, I'm still able to somewhat understand German.


I read in Spanish, Arabic, and Portuguese. I watch movies. I write. I do flash cards for arabic. I use duolingo.

That is how I maintain the languages I have knowledge of.


I read (a good chunk of my library is books in other languages), listen to music and watch a lot of movies and shows. In fact I have a theory regarding that and my levels of proficiency in certain languages, in which you have to go step by step.

The first and most basic is listening to songs in the target language. Once you can understand the songs as well as you could in your native language, you move to the next step: Movies and tv series with subtitles, first in your language, after that in the target language (the subs I mean) , and next Movies and tv series without subtitles, and after that which is probably the most hardcore level, tv programmes in your target language (so far I’ve only managed that in English, German and Italian.)

And also, obviously, Internet, but going beyond sites like duolingo. For example, I love reading Wikipedia articles in my target languages)


What is interesting about what you say and that I have heard from a lot of language learners is that listening to song in other languages has been very helpful for them learning it. I think their is a combination of things, and I know more exposure is good, but I have never felt like the music has been really helpful.

I have typically preferred reading books phonetically out loud; I find that has a pretty high exposure/time ratio to a language, though I know the value of other resources paired with this. Just an observation that I haven't always found music a great tool for listening at the start of learning a new language; but interestingly, I started to really enjoy Spanish music after gaining a pretty high level in the language, and as I am learning and have a functional level of portuguese, Brazilian music is something that interests me.

Some thoughts.


Most of mine are in a kind of hibernation. I rotate them out periodically between actively and passively studying them. I study French and Xhosa actively permanently (partly because they're a part of my university course, partly because they interest me most). To me, it is all about rotation, dedication, and balance.


Very cool you know Xhosa. I had a professor who used to know some a while ago when she lived in south africa. I think the clicks are very interesting. In one of my university classes where we learned about South Africa, there were some Xhosa words brought up in the class and it was very fun to say them. QwaQwa is one words that comes to mind, then some names of made up people from South Africa. Very cool you know some of the language.


I graduated from high school with almost a minor in French (I only had cultural classes left) I have not used it in 10 years and let me tell you I would be able to understand what I read ok but I could not form a sentence spoken to save my life.

Spanish on the other hand I learned solely from talking to people and I use it a couple times a week and do flash cards

Czech is something I use every day and probably the language I can do best in it is the language I am most immersed in media wise I read news watch tv and listen to music. I do flash cards as well and have conversational lessons once a week

German I do not use often and unfortunately have lost all skills but that which is needed to ask for directions and to read a menu in a restaurant. I don't use it so have lost much of it.

I have a few other languages I have dabbled in but am finding the more I focus on Czech the worse those languages are.


those are the things that will help most :)

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