Language Learning: Retrieval

The past few weeks I’ve noticed E using words that I’ve never spoken to him. Most are technical terms, names of things we don’t usually use in everyday life.
Like most Turkish university graduates, E studied English for at least ten years over his academic career. In high school his mother sent him to spoken English courses, and so by the time he graduated university his English was actually quite good. But then he didn’t use it consistently for near a decade, and by the time I met him it was a bit rusty.

Now, over a year later – a year of using English every day, for hours on end – his language skills have revived. It’s like all those words he previously learned were not lost, but in deep slumber. And using English more – even if I haven’t used or he hasn’t heard that particular word – has shaken them from their sleep. Exercise prompts language retrieval. Which means there’s home yet for my dormant high school French and Spanish.

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One thought on “Language Learning: Retrieval

  1. This is a very interesting post as just this morning I reblogged a post very similar to this saying exactly the same thing about an Australian man who went into a coma and came out speaking fluent Mandarin….It is true, language never dies, it just gets locked in a cupboard for a while until you find the key again.

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