“What does the transition into understanding a language look/feel like?”

I have tried learning a language before (Danish) before, but got only so far then stopped. Everytime I pick it up again, I start from the beginning. This has allowed me to develop a very sound understanding of some basic sentences. Will this eventually happen for the entire language?

(From Quora)

My response:

You probably don’t actually start from the beginning, it just feels like that since you have forgotten quite a bit. But likely, you do remember some things and some things will come back more easily.

Chinese is the language that I speak at the lowest level, so it’s probably most similar to your Danish.

Basically, I started learning words and phrases and I would recognize things here and there. As I worked on it consistently, I would understand more and more. I would be able to understand the meaning of simple statements. But there would often be words that I did not understand.

Sometimes that would make me want to learn those words, unless they were very uncommon.

With Spanish, I probably understand about 95% of what I hear. So I understand most things. And I do try to keep learning more words.

In between Chinese and Spanish is German for me. I understand quite a bit, but my level has decreased substantially in the years it has been since I was in Germany.

Much better not to stop practicing completely if possible!

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