Feeling Rusty With A Second Language? You Can Get Comfortable Again

Did you learn a second language when you were in school? How comfortable would you be using it now? Imagine for a moment, that you were thrust into a situation where you needed to communicate and the only language spoken was the one you learned years ago at school. I suspect you would be tongue-tied and maybe even a bit petrified to attempt to speak at all. But, there is hope.

It can be like riding a bicycle

Learning a second language can be tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, it will be there in the future as you need it. Often people say it is like riding a bicycle. With a bit a practice it will come back from the cobwebs of our memories.

It can sometimes be difficult to re-learn how to speak and write in a second language after not using it for a long time. Even the most experienced second language speakers feel shy or rusty when it’s been a while. However, like riding a bicycle, all of those skills you developed come back to you quickly when you start using the second language again. To help with confidence when speaking and writing in your second language, try taking an online course that reviews basic grammar and conversation topics. This can help refresh your memory and get conversations flowing again. Plus, we all need to practice our second language from time to time so that we don’t lose the skill entirely!

Sometimes you need a reason why

I still remember when I started to refresh my French after not using it since high school. My kids were entering into French Immersion and I wanted to be able to understand what they were working on and help them out. I took a couple of courses through online university and with a bit of practice, I became comfortable with the language again. 

I started to help out in the classroom and this made it easier to see how to use simpler forms of the language to communicate with the kids. I also was able to practice my French with the kids without fear of  any mistakes I might make with gender usage.

Note: I still find it tough to remember which nouns are masculine and which are feminine. I often keep a dictionary nearby to check this out or I go to an online dictionary.
I am so glad that I did brush up on my French, because when I first started teaching, I ended up in a long-term substitute situation where I needed to teach Grade 1 French Immersion for 4 months. With the help of my colleagues and with my knowledge of how to teach different subjects, I was able to create materials and lessons that worked. It was scary, but I realized that I could do it. That immersion into my own kids' classrooms helped me to learn simpler ways of communicating with my students and I was able to transfer that to my classroom situation.
Following the 4 months in Grade 1, I ended up teaching French Immersion music for 9 years. This meant I needed to learn all the specific French jargon and terminology for music. Talk about choosing to jump into the fire! But I did it.

Who knew that Frère Jacques could be sung so many ways in Kindergarten. I used it to teach emotions, beat, rhythm, echoing, and many other things when I first had the kids who knew no French. They thought that I was very silly, but they had fun joining me.

You may need to refresh more than once

Fast forward several years, and my French was rusty again from lack of use. I decided to do something about that because my grandchildren were entering French Immersion. I started to brush up on my French and volunteer in my grandson's classroom. I started creating resources for my older grandson who was going to go into Late Immersion and I started to tutor some other students who were going into Late Immersion. 

It was much faster getting my fluency this time. The grammar made sense and the vocabulary came back quickly. Creating the resources and using them with beginners also helped me to find out where things needed to be modified to make them work better.
If you are interested in checking out some French resources that work for young learners or those beginning in Late Immersion or FSL, check out my French categories in my TPT store
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