How to maintain your proficiency

Initially, the title of this article was “How to maintain your proficiency in German” but I decided to change it because I think the principles work regardless of the foreign language.

You have reached the desired CEFR level in German. Congratulations! Now what?

Learning a foreign language is NOT like learning to ride a bike. If you don’t maintain your level of proficiency through exercise, over time you’ll forget the language, whether it is German or any other foreign language. How can you maintain your level without too much effort? It’s assumed that you don’t want to allocate 2-3 hours a day to maintain your German, as you allocated when learning the language.

1. TV. Did you know that ProSieben broadcasts an episode of The Big Bang Theory dubbed in German every Monday night? According to the German law, German television stations are not allowed to broadcast programs in a language other than German. So the TV stations dub all series and movies in German, instead of broadcasting them only with the original audio and subtitles. It’s a very good method of assimilation, especially if you have seen the series or the film before, because you can focus more on the German dubbing than on the plot. I recommend ProSieben (Pro7), SAT.1, RTL, DW (Deutsche Welle), kabel eins.

2. Radio stations. The reasons for listening to German (or Austrian) radio stations are about the same as in point 1. For the news of the day, you can listen to hr-iNFO, SWR Aktuell, MDR Aktuell and other stations. For commercial music, Bayern 3 or the lesser known Radio Gong München are very good.

Tip: You should pay special attention to commercials, both on TV and on the radio. The words are pronounced more slowly, and the language used is simple, rudimentary, to be understood by anyone.

3. Glossika. I’ve talked about Glossika so often that many readers probably think I’m advertising it. It’s a website that does not teach you words or grammar, but sentences. Each repetition of a sentence is called a ‘Rep’. A set has five sentences repeated 5 times each, so 25 ‘Reps’ for each learning set. Every day, you have to repeat the sentences learned before, usually somewhere around 10% of all the sentences learned up to that point. Glossika is just a website, there is no official Android or IOS application. That can be an impediment. Remember, for maintaining a language you shouldn’t put too much effort. After all, you’ve already learned it, you just have to make sure you don’t forget it. It costs about 30$ a month (quite a lot of money, I know), but if you plan to learn other languages (or you already know other languages besides German) it can be a feasible option.

4. Articles. From what I noticed, there isn’t much fake news in the German press. I may not have come across sites like this, but it seems to me that there are significantly fewer fake news articles written in German than those written in English, for example. Bild, FAZ and other news stations are recommended. If you have several unknown words, you can analyze the article with tools like LingQ or Readlang. Thus, not only will you fully translate the text, but you’ll also be able to make flashcards with the words you didn’t know.

5. Other ideas: German Youtubers, changing the phone language from English to German, conversations with native Germans or other German learners (if you have the opportunity) etc.

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