How to make sure you don’t lose your language skills

If you are a multilingual job seeker in the UK, pay attention!

In today’s job market, things are getting more and more competitive. With new records of students graduating with degrees every year in Britain, there simply aren’t enough jobs to satisfy everyone’s needs. As a multilingual job seeker, your best assets are of course your languages. The question is; how do you keep them up to scratch.

There are many different ways in which you can keep your languages going and although many of them may seem simple and obvious, they are very important. For someone like myself who is bilingual in English and French, it is easy just to coast along in English (as it is my mother tongue) and living in Paris, most of my friends and family are English speaking. I find it is crucial to speak as much French as possible with native speakers. Be aware that foreigners do always like to practise their English so be insistent.

Reading is so important to keep your languages ticking over. If you can’t find an interesting piece of French literature, then just get a translated version of your favourite English book. Although this isn’t as good as reading French books, this is still very beneficial. Not a book person? Read a French paper once a day or subscribe to a French magazine eg. le Point. If you are not comfortable with that level of language or simply not sufficiently interested in current affairs, you could try a more informal magazine via Bayard Jeunesse eg. Okapi. It may be targeted at teenagers but is informative, easy to read and equally well-suited to adults with short attention spans!

Everyone likes a good film so there is no excuse not to watch them in French. It is such an easy way to consolidate your French and you are pretty spoilt for choice when it comes to French cinema. In fact watching French television is very good for your languages. Just watching the 8 o’clock news every day is worth doing. You can also listen to the French radio and listen to French music (although it is not everyone’s cup of tea!)

If you have visited France or are planning to visit France in the future, make sure you keep in touch with the people you meet. This is the most important part of keeping your language at a solid level. There is no substitute for actually having a conversation in French with a French person. It is even worth finding a pen pal you can write to in French and they they can write to you in English. That way you are both winners.

Grammar. I have kept this to last. Unfortunately this is equally as important as your oral skills. Prospective employers will be keen to test your written French so accuracy is vital. The only way to do it is to practise, like anything else. There are plenty of websites available to test your grammar. You just have to grin and bear it and you will reap the benefits.

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