Fasting is letting go of something for a purpose. It’s mostly associated with weight loss however there are other reasons to fast.

 Ever thought about Language fasting? Well I have and thought to share with you. What exactly is language fasting?  How  instrumental is it to second language acquisition? What’s the right way to do a language fast for optimal results?

Here is my personal definition: A language fast is staying away from your dominant language by deliberately and consistently consuming content in other languages as you engage in your daily activities. How nice does that sound? Be sure to give me credit when you quote me. lol!

So many theories of second language acquisition establish the need for exposure to the target language. I particularly find Stephen Krashen’s theory of comprehensible input interesting. I also enjoy listening to Steve Kaufmann share his thoughts on building vocabulary before going ahead to speak the language. In all this, one thing is vital to note: Optimal exposure to the language is not going to happen on it’s own. The learner needs to bring himself/herself to do it. Whether by discipline or mere motivation, the learner is in control of this process.

As much as we know that we need to listen and read content in the target language, we are busy with other areas of our lives that we sometimes forget to make contact with this language. During the day and after a long day at work, it’s just very easy to catch up on your favorite series in the dominant language (English in my own case) or browse through the streets of social media. What then is the role of language fasting in all of this?

Because our brains love to take the easy way out, a language fast would help to condition our minds to consciously do everything in the target language. Here are some of the activities I suggest. Following social media influencers that speak the target language, reading and commenting on random posts, tweeting and sharing thoughts in the target language, watching videos, listening to music in the language. Such activities will allow for frequent exposure to this language.

What’s the best way to do a language fast?

Have a realistic time frame. A language fast doesn’t mean a total extinction of the dominant language. It’s important that you set a time frame to measure your progress. It can last for 4 hours, 1 day, 10 days. Whatever works for you. Just make sure it is realistic.

You are not obligated to study. This fast has nothing to do with studying or reviewing flash cards. It’s just like living a normal life except that you are selective about the content your eyes feed on and your ears listen to.

Have a reward system If you successfully had a language fast during the selected time frame, appreciate yourself for this feat.

Keep a journal: Write all the interesting things that happened to you during the fast. Every detail! The silly stuff too.

The more you do this fasting exercise, your target language gradually gains the upper hand. Consequently, your level of confidence in expressing yourself in this language increases.

Have you learnt something new? Tell me about it in the comment section. Think other learners deserve to know this? Kindly share this post. Remember, we can all be polyglots!

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