We all know that the ubiquitous phrase “use it or lose it” applies perhaps most accurately to the learning and retention of a new language. Whatever your motivation for learning a language – be it for your career, to progress in studies, or for travel – it is crucial to have a strong motivation to practice. In my experience, the best way to ensure consistent progress is by stretching your social skills!
When I returned to London after having lived in Japan for three years, I didn’t want to just leave Japan behind me. I chose to live here in London, but I still needed to connect with Japanese culture, meet Japanese friends, and to keep speaking Japanese. So, I began to build a “language community”.
What exactly do I mean by a language community? Well, in a word: people! No matter what your motivation for learning, the purpose for language is, of course, communication. If you surround yourself with people to speak with in your target language, your learning will take on a human dimension, and a life of its own!
How can you create a language community? Well, we are lucky enough to live in an international country, with the capital London being one of the most diverse cities in the world! There are loads of exciting events where you can embrace the culture of the language you are learning, and make great friends. Countless opportunities exist.
Try searching www.meetup.com to find out about local clubs where you can enjoy anything and everything, from afternoon tea to Zen, with a group of like-minded people. Conversation clubs are a wonderful option for language exchange and friendship – you can read a short article about Japanese/English Conversation Clubs in London here.