I am a professional, English/Dutch teacher, constructor and assessor, (Bachelor’s degree) Teaches also Dutch as a second language and guided unemployed staff members to a new career. Years ago, I decided to study Spanish. It seemed like the right thing to do (with Spanish being one of the world’s most spoken languages).
For me, Spanish was not difficult. What was a surprising challenge, was retaining what I had learned. I noticed that after a while my Spanish level declined due to a lack of continuity. Even after visiting or working in Spanish speaking countries, or finishing course apps, my level dropped.
Why did my skills drop? I didn’t engage or I didn’t practice or I lost the connection to the language? Most language apps did not completely answer my need to converse in subjects I am interested in. I also did not have the time nor the means to follow classes again. Within a few weeks of finishing Spanish classes, my oral skills started to drop rapidly. I found this incredibly disappointing.
During one of my travels, I observed several businessmen staring at their laptops or I-pads, looking very busy. Once we started to talk I found out that they were preparing for a workshop or a speech. Although they seem, excellent speakers, I sensed and eventually found out that they all wished that they could practice with a coach or an imaginary audience to discuss the finishing touches or get informed in more complex communication matters. They wanted to learn the things that only natives know.
Understanding cultures was very important to these businessmen as manners and behaviors are extremely important to close a deal.
Conversing is a skill that challenges your brain in all its aspects. You have to response instantly during a conversation. There is no situation wherein you need to upload knowledge to respond adequately in real-life conversations. Since no situation is the same so go figure.
Englishmen need to, without being rude, interrupt the native speakers and ask politely whether they could speak the target language. Besides these language barriers also finding out what manners or friendships is key to start a relationship. It is interesting how communication balances between so many foreknowledge.
Well known fact for English natives is that when studying a foreign language, people tend to switch to English as soon as they sensed that they can converse in English, they moreover choose to do so.