Success doesn’t come from what you do occasionally, it comes from what you do consistently.Marie Forleo
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During the summer months, everyone likes to have a break from routine. Some people are lucky enough to enjoy a reduced schedule at work, others take nice, long holidays, and some simply decide to have a chill at home. For the most part, disconnecting and relaxing is a wonderful and very healthy thing to do, but I am afraid that is not the case with your English!
Unfortunately, most of you will be familiar with that frustrating feeling when after taking a break from English for a few weeks or months, it seems like you have completely forgotten everything you used to know. You have less fluency, you can’t remember even simple words, and worst of all, this makes you lose your confidence the next time you need to communicate in English. To be honest, this used to happen to me every time I travelled to Newcastle to visit my family. Even if I only went for a long weekend, it would take me a day or two to remember how to speak Spanish when I came back to Madrid!
So why does this happen? Why do we forget so quickly something that has taken us so long to learn? Well, in 1885 a German scientist called Hermann Ebbinghaus came up with an explanation. He created the Ebbinghaus Forgetting Curve which shows the rate at which we forget information after learning it.
What he found was that if we learn something new, but then make no attempt to relearn that information, we remember less and less of it as the hours, days and weeks go by. As you can see in the above graph, after one day, we have already forgotten around half of the information we have learnt. Unfortunately, this is what happens when you stop practicing English. All of the vocabulary, expressions, grammar rules and pronunciation that you have learnt, are gradually forgotten over time.
But don’t worry! All is not lost! What Ebbinghaus also found was that if we make a conscious effort to retain the information, by reviewing it periodically, we dramatically improve the possibility of retaining this information in our long-term memory. This periodic learning is known as spaced repetition.
As you can see in the graph, although we start forgetting new information at first, if we periodically review the information we forget less and less until it stays in our long-term memories forever.
So, how does this apply to your English learning? The most important thing you can do to not forget everything you have learned is to be consistent with your English. Consistency is the key! So, make sure you have contact with English for a minimum of 20 minutes every day or at least every other day. You can review the vocabulary you have learnt in your classes, watch a Ted Talk, write an email in English to a friend or colleague, or listen to a podcast episode for example our podcast English is a Breeze. Whatever you fancy! As long as it is something interesting and not boring, so you feel motivated and actually enjoy this contact with English. You can also dedicate one or two hours a week to speaking practice, which is the best way to really fix the English you have learnt into your brain and make it less likely to forget. This is especially great in the summer holidays, when you have a bit more free time to spare. If you want to really give your English a boost this summer, we have some great packs of classes at affordable prices, so don’t forget to take a look at our website.
I hope this article has helped you realise the importance of being consistent with your English and that it motivates you to keep doing something in English every day, even if it is just for 20 minutes. Let us know if you have any questions or doubts about activities to do in English, and of course, feel free to share this article with anyone who may be interested.