What do you need to be able to speak a language? Words. That means you have to remember words. A lot of them. And this is not going to happen by itself, you have to put some effort into it. Your brain is a muscle and you have to train it.
When I was studying for my Japanese Language test, I had a little electronic dictionary and I used it to test myself on vocabulary every time I was on the train to work. (Only in the afternoons - I don't know if you've ever seen a picture of a Japanese train in the morning, but there was no room to move my arm, let alone study vocabulary.)
You might not have the time to do this every day, so here's an idea I learnt from Ellen Dubois, a very experienced Business English teacher I know.
She says that you need to revise vocabulary after 10 minutes, 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 2 months etc. Her idea is this: the day after you have studied some vocabulary (from an English lesson, from reading an article, watching something on TV or wherever you learn you vocabulary) write yourself an email with all the new vocabulary in it. Then schedule the email to be sent - to yourself - the following week. When you receive the email, you can review the vocabulary by just reading through the email. Then you can schedule it to be sent again one month later.
Great idea, isn't it?
My blog has changed! If you're looking for my English-practice exercises, they're all still here, just look in the archives.
Catherine: blogging about learning, language, culture, France and more...