Use it or lose it they say, but researchers at the York University have found that foreign language skills may be recalled 50 years later, even though it may not have been spoken since school.  The findings may give hope to those expats who find themselves heading off to a new home overseas and worried they may not remember any conversation.

The university tested some 500 people who had taken French GCSE or A-level between the 1970s and 2020 using a French vocabulary and grammar test, excluding anyone who had studied a language later on in life.  And in spite of not using their French for half a century, or only very occasionally, they performed at the same level as recent students.

Researchers also found that being under pressure overseas, such as at an airport or hospital, could trigger recall of words that may have been thought lost years ago.

Too often when arriving in a new destination, we may rely on English being the lingua franca.  If you need some language learning support, let us know, whether it’s a refresher or starting from scratch.

Interested in reading more about the research?  Univ of York