I was 17. I had a stable group of friends back home. I was in love. And my family finally moved into a house. Life promised to be pretty stable from now on. Until I heard that a couple of girls from school were planning an exchange year in Chile and France.
The idea started growing in my head. I was already pretty sure I would leave Latvia as soon as I’d finish school. And not because of the bad economy or the weather. Although of course, that matters. But mainly because I was curious.
So when I heard that I could do it even earlier, the game was on.
So moving to another country and setting up your life so that you have no choice but to speak a new language, is a guaranteed way to become at least conversationally fluent.
To keep the language, you need to keep practicing. For example, staying in touch with your new made friends helps a lot. Although, they are forced to read your letters out loud, in order to understand what sounds you’ve tried to put into words like a coded spy message. Ups.
Make sure they are nice and patient people.
Writing in French still, doesn’t make sense to me. Neither does English, but in case of latter, I had a teacher who made me memorize everything from random texts to grammar for the longest 12 years of my life. Every day. Every year started with conjugating every possible verb out there. It is the worst possible way to learn a language and cannot be done when you’re relying on your motivation alone. School sucks.