For many multilingual people, keeping their native language fresh in their heads can be difficult. But to many of these people, staying fluent in their mother tongue is an important part of their being. If you live in a country that speaks a different language from your native language, it can be hard to keep track of all the intricacies of speaking and writing that used to come naturally to you, as well as new evolutions of vocabulary and syntax such as slang.
Here are a couple of tips to help you keep up with your native language:
Watch TV – If possible, watch TV shows and movies from your native country, preferably recent ones, to really give you a fresh sense of how the language is being used currently. If you can’t access these programs on TV, search the Internet as many TV channels make their content available online, or order DVDs. This will help to keep you up-to-date with current language use as well as having the added benefit of keeping you informed of the latest news and current events.
Listen to radio shows from your native country. The internet makes this very easy as most radio stations allow you to listen in from their website. Another alternative is podcasts in your native language. iTunes has an extensive podcast library in many languages, and often a quick Internet search will find you other options.
Read in your native language. Choose a variety of subjects and material – journals, newspapers, magazines, fiction, non-fiction – listening to language is very different from reading, so books and articles will help you to really round out practising your native language. There is plenty of (free) online literature to be found on the Internet and books can be ordered or downloaded online. You might even be able to get them from a local bookshop or library if your language isn’t too “obscure” in the country you live in. Google’s e-book service has a large collection of books and magazines, and if you have an e-book reader, check out the relevant e-store for reading material as well.
Find someone you can converse with in your native language. This can be as simple as discussing the weather or if you’re feeling adventurous, start a debate about a topic that interests you. Practising speaking a language is a different way of learning a language from hearing and reading it. If possible, visit your native country and re-learn the intricacies and colloquialisms and syntax.