7 Ways to Relearn the Second Language You Forgot

I grew up taking French immersion from Kindergarten to Grade 12. For the first eight years of my education, everything I learned was in French (except for English class, of course.) I earned my Double Dogwood, and passed my B1 Delf exam. By the time I graduated, on paper, I was perfectly capable of speaking fluently. And then three years passed. I went from speaking French every day to rarely speaking it at all. And man, do you lose a language fast.

When my boss recently asked me if I could pick up a role at my job that required me to speak French, I knew it was time. I had to relearn it. So whether you’re in a similar situation to me and need to learn fast, or just realized you could use some refreshing, here are all the things I did to relearn my second language.



1. Watch Movies

French movies on Netflix are a little scarce, but there are definitely some on there. I was thrilled to see Bon Cop, Bad Cop, a Canadian movie I watched back in class in high school. Even more excitingly was Raiponce, the Canadian-French version of Disney’s Tangled. This was a great one to start with, since I already knew the English version word-for-word and could follow along with what they were saying.


2. Listen to Music

There’s a lot of great French music out there (or whatever language you’re trying to re-learn), and even just having it on in the background while you do homework or work out can be great to get your brain thinking in that language. I like looking up the lyrics to my favourite songs so I can read them and figure out exactly what they’re saying.



3. Try Podcasts

These were a bit harder for me, because I couldn’t find very many French podcasts on the app (there are probably a lot more online though). My favourite was (CRIME PODCAST), a podcast about a girl that went missing in Quebec years ago. They talk really fast, and there are a lot of big crime related words that took me a while to figure out, so I would really have to focus when I was listening to them. But having French people muttering in your ear while you’re walking down the street can be really helpful.


4. Talk to Yourself

This one doesn't come naturally to me, but whenever I remember to, I try and actually do my thinking in French. Whether I’m sitting on the bus musing or thinking about my writing, it’s challenging and helpful to do it in my second language. You might sound a little crazy talking to yourself, but it’s still a good idea.



5. Try an App

There are tons of great apps out there designed to help you learn a new language, so why not use them to help you re-learn? I tried out Duolingo, and it’s been great to sort of game-ify the experience. You can choose the level of how fast you want to learn, and then you have to earn a certain amount of points every day. It’s great because no matter what I do, I know I’ll at least get that ten minutes of practice at some point during my day.


6. Immerse Yourself

If you have the means to go to France or Belgium or any of the amazing countries that use your second language as their first, by all means go right ahead. If you're like most people and can't drop everything and move to a foreign country, try surrounding yourself in the language as best you can. My room mate speaks French as well, and it's been great just having a couple short conversations together. By mixing all of these steps that I've listed so far, you'll be about as immersed as you can get.



7. Be Confident

I find the best thing for me to do when speaking French with someone is to pretend I’m completely comfortable speaking it. If I start out with ‘sorry my French is a little rusty,’ and try and say everything perfectly, it’s going to go a lot worse than if I just tried my best to have a genuine conversation with them.


What are your best tips for keeping up with your second language? Let me know in the comments below!