I have implemented a lot of healthy habits since the beginning of the year, and here it is mid-April already! Time goes by so quickly, so if I'm not careful some things that are important to me get left on the back burner and never seem to get moved to my priority list.
Living in Canada where there are two official languages it is important to learn and maintain both languages (English and French) in work and in life in general. In my job, there are language profiles, and I need to work hard to maintain those levels.
This spring I am aiming to renew my levels (comprehension, written and oral) and I have created a Language Maintenance Trello board to help me achieve this goal.
I have collected various tips, tricks, and best practices over the years from colleagues in the public service as well as through internet research and courses I attended. Instead of having all of the information in my head and in binders and notepads I spent some time organizing everything on this Language Maintenance Trello board so that I have all of the resources top of mind and at my fingertips.
Here are a few tips that have helped me along the way:
Expose yourself to the language as much as possible throughout the week. Listen or watch the morning news, read books, articles, even Netlix has a setting where you can change both the audio and sub-titles to your language of choice.
If you don’t use it, you will lose it.This could not be more true, I live in a province where I could speak English all day - every day, so I don’t have a lot of opportunity to practice. Last week I did 10 fact finding/environmental scan interviews with colleagues across the country and I did four of them in French. The first call was challenging as I didn’t have all the departmental vocabulary on the tip of my tongue, but the second one was much easier, and the third and fourth were fantastic. Pushing myself to do this helped to build my confidence and as long as I was able to get my message across, my colleagues were understanding of any grammar mistakes I may have made as the conversation flowed.
Get a language buddy or join/start a lunch-time group to practice. This is great for peer-accountability and to cheer each other on, as well as celebrating each other's progress along the way.
Try and try again. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t obtain your language levels on your first, or second time. Go back stronger than ever and keep your eye on the prize. This happened to me last fall where I worked hard all summer, missed my written communication level by one point, felt disappointed and then got busy with other things and my language study fell by the wayside. All of a sudden months went by and I now have to work harder to get back to where I was in the summer, and keep pushing until I reach my goals. But this time after all the testing, I will l aim to maintain my levels between testing periods so I won’t have to study so hard, it will become natural the more and more I use my second language regularly.
Hope you found this helpful if you are also considering learning a language or want to knock the rust of your second language and start using it more often.