I am entirely sympathetic. You are not sure you have it in you, this year, this week. You might sound ridiculous. It is just too late. You have forgotten most of it, and your memory is not improving for regular life, much less another language. You'd rather watch the news. It's that bad. But it can be so fantastic!

Basque was once a language I lived in, it had almost become second nature. Then I left and that was about the end of that language adventure. At one time, I was also functional in Mandarin, during the three years I was taking it in college. Oh, and I lived in Spain, and it was so easy to be speak fluent Spanish when it was all around me every day. I know how a language can come and go, how it can return in frustratingly small bits and pieces.

There is a cure. And it is neither painful nor complicated. It is systematic, daily use, across the table or the room from another human. Am I trotting out the old "practice makes perfect"? Peut-être, but not to the tune of hours every day. Regularity is key, and so is a desire to speak, to come back to the lessons because they are enjoyable.

As for memory? Learning and practicing another language builds brain cells, like other mental activities that exercise one's brain, but here are specific results from studies as related to learning another language: Bilingualism May Offset Brain Damage, Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimers, or The Superior Social Skills of Bilinguals. Doubts persist? Take a look at this from Alzheimers.org.uk

5. Exercise your mind

Keeping your mind active is likely to reduce your risk of dementia. Regularly challenging yourself mentally seems to build up the brain’s ability to cope with disease. One way to think about it is ‘Use it or lose it’.

Find something you like doing that challenges your brain and do it regularly. It’s important to find something that you’ll keep up. For example:

  • study for a qualification or course, or just for fun
  • learn a new language
  • do puzzles, crosswords or quizzes
  • play card games or board games
  • read challenging books or write (fiction or non-fiction).

Taking up French or Greek, whether it is a brand new language or you are renewing a love once lost, is a favor to yourself, a boon to your brain, and a thing of beauty and joy forever.

Live the Dream: Commence Today