Here’s what I’m thinking. OK, I will never speak French like I do Spanish. There’s nobody to speak it with so it’s hopeless. But why don’t I go back to reading French? I read the French-language press, so why not a book?
Clive James learned a boatload of languages, including Russian, Japanese, French, German, and Spanish. Plus, a bunch of Eastern European languages. Oh, and Italian. And Portuguese. The way he did it was to learn the very basics, then find a serious work of literature, philosophy or literary criticism and just start reading. His method was, “underline every word you don’t know, keep going for as long as you get the sense, look up the hard words afterwards.”
I’m thinking the autobiography of Jean-François Revel, if I can find it.