Helo everyone

I was observing a student studying French, she was doing some kind of ‘fill in the gaps’ activity for verb tenses using a software program. This was something suggested to her in her course guide. It struck me as a somewhat inefficient exercise, and when I gave her my opinion - in the least confrontational way I could - she got a bit defensive and said she can speak two languages well, and basically that I had no right to “tell” her how to learn a language. That makes it sound like she was furiously angry, she wasn’t, but she more or less meant exactly that.

This got me thinking about a statistic I read that only a very small percentage (I can’t remember the exact figure, but it was definitely less than 20%) of university language graduates come out of their course being able to understand well and speak fluently (whatever that is). Then I recalled reading about, and hearing former students say, how they “used” to know the language but they’ve since forgotten it.

My own experience hasn’t been like this. I’ve had multiple breaks ranging from a few days up to 6 months + during a 6 year pursuit of trying to learn a language (currently around a strong B1-weak B2), if I’m honest I’ve probably spent more days of each year not learning than learning, but each time I come back to it, it’s right there again like I never went away. It can take a day or so to properly get back into it, but after a couple of days I’m as good, if not better than when I left. My own method of “study” has pretty much been the lingq way of listening and reading, no memorising of grammar rules and word lists etc.

So I just wondered what people’s thoughts are about this, whether those ‘Anki slaves’ and ‘grammar drillers’ are losing what they “knew” because the school strategy is more short term memory cramming vs a more relaxed “let it come to you” strategy employed by most here at lingq? If so, it all seems like a huge waste of time and effort to me, surely the end goal has to be to gain a skill that stays with you for life?

I do not think that university language study is similar to short term cramming. The courses just don’t require you to master that much material in the first place. People that say they “used” to know a language don’t realize (or don’t care) that if they put some time into it again, as you do, they could get it all back, however much or little it was. That’s certainly my experience with languages I studied in high school or college and didn’t touch again for 10+ years.

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