Use it or lose it

As often happens, starting to write something redirects me to Google.

First diversion: is “googling” recognized as a real word? Auto spell checkers seem to say no. But it’s there in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary.

I googled the phrase “use it or lose it” and the first three hits were:
Keeping the brain active may ward off Alzheimers
Dancing makes you smarter
Erections: use it or lose it?

All worthy topics! And perhaps more related than one might at first think.

This past week I had the experience of seeing a colleague from Germany for the first time in a year or so. He was the person who forced me to speak only German while in Germany. That was the only way to really learn, he said.

It was a bit depressing trying to talk with him this week. I realized how rusty my German has become. I found myself pausing and having to think through everything I tried to say. You really do lose it if you don’t use it.

The thing is, if you don’t have a compelling, practical need to learn another language it’s difficult to stay motivated to do so. I think that is a primary reason why so few Americans are multilingual. When I KNEW I was going to be spending time in Germany, I had a good reason to work at learning German. Without that reason it’s easy to find other things to spend your time on.

So what’s a good reason now? This brings it around to the first link of my Google search. I remember telling people that when I was spending a lot of time and effort learning German … I just felt smarter. Like my brain was working better. Not just at German but at other things too. I don’t know if it was focusing on learning something (anything), or that it was specifically related to learning a language. All I know is that I felt mentally sharper.

And of course it’s cool to be able to impress your friends when you can say something in another language.

I need to load up the MP3 player with some German language podcasts again.

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1 Comment

Filed under german, language

One response to “Use it or lose it

  1. Pingback: Trying not to lose it | Über die Brücke

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