School and University have finished for the summer but that doesn’t mean your language learning stops as well. To stay as much of a languages expert as you already are, practice is key. I’ve compiled some suggestions to stay on top of grammar and vocabulary throughout the summer, that you can do without the help of teachers and tutors.
Duolingo gets a bad reputation amongst ‘serious’ language learners. Although it doesn’t offer full grammar explanations for conjugations, agreements, or prepositions, if you’re already studying the language, it’s a good way to keep up with the language and make sure you don’t forget everything over the summer.
The easy stages of Duolingo can be very tedious if you already know it and labouring through the ‘je suis un chat’ and ‘un niño y una niña’ feels like a waste of time but, you don’t necessarily have to complete it all in order, or even complete it at all. You can easily skip to the more advanced levels by completing a checkpoint test and then unlocking a larger section.
Writing is a key part of language learning so writing a little bit each day in the languages you’re learning helps keep your brain in gear with grammar and makes you realise which common, everyday words you don’t know. I write a little bit about my plans for the day in a language journal as much as I can. If you struggle with ideas of what to write about straight away, try writing it in English at first and then rewriting it into whatever language you’re learning. If you feel like challenging yourself, you could try writing it in one language you’re learning and then translating it into another. It’s a very quick activity that you can do each morning or evening and I feel like it really helps with vocabulary and grammar.
Conversation Exchange is a website where you create a profile with your language competencies and interests and then can message native speakers. The goal is to help each other with the languages you want to learn, and you also gain a new friend. You learn more casual expressions and more about their culture than you would from a classroom presentation, in my opinion.
You can also choose which platform to speak on, including a pen-pal option! This means you can choose how much your new, international friends can learn about you initially by communicating through the website’s chat function and then a social media of your choosing.
Online Grammar Exercises
Perhaps a more classroom-based approach, but there are lots of websites offering grammar exercises. Grammar is one of those things that you either love or hate, but it is what goes towards your final grades and is key to native speakers understanding you properly.
One of my favourites is Progress with Lawless French. They have lots of pages on different grammar topics and then there is an exercise feature called Kwiziq. Their platform is available for French and Spanish learners and although there is a paid premium option, the free version offers just as much great content. You can also track your progress via CEFR level quizzes, so you know if you’re on track for final year and fluency.
TV & Film
Watching foreign TV & film has seemed to me, to be a teacher’s favourite recommendation to their students to improve their languages. It has obvious benefits, such as developing your listening skills and exposure to familiar expressions that you would need in daily life. It’s also fun and doesn’t have to feel like work. More shows are being made available in foreign languages on popular platforms such as Netflix and Prime Video so you will be spoilt for choice.