Really, how often must you speak to keep the production aspect of a second language active?
My mom and I have decided to do a language exchange once a week: one hour of Arabic followed by one hour of German.
Now, there was a point in time, as recently as two years ago, when I could speak German fluidly (though not fluently). I wasn’t a beginner, and I could sound pretty good.
Now, it seems to have been covered up by the subsequent years of Arabic study and the total non-speaking. Yet, the comprehension remains, at I think the exact same level as it ever was.
Like many, I took French in middle and high school. I reached a certain level of comprehension and speaking. Despite having basically no exposure to the language for the past twenty years, I notice that the comprehension level seems to have stayed stable (speech is totally gone, of course.)
So, does comprehension just get fixed at its last highest level? What is it about speaking that just requires that much more of a brain-body interaction to stay fluid? Does learning new languages cover-up previous languages?
So, despite the frustration of understanding everything but not being able to say even a single decent sentence when we began, I know the german-speaking skill will mostly return with a few more hours of conversation. My aim is to try to keep it stable-fluid with ongoing conversation, no study.
Along these lines, I’m aiming to do the same experiment with French: go eat croissants once a week at the French Breakfast, and see what returns with zero-effort (apart from than the croissant-eating.)
If that works, we’re going to test the reactivation theory out with Thai.
BTW, my mom has absolutely phenomenal language acquisition abilities: this is some of her texts to me after a month of Arabic study- about 8 hours with a teacher: Kifah.