7 tips for getting back into language learning after a long break

7 tips for getting back into language learning after a long break

by Erin McGann
October 11, 2021

Language learning is a long-term project, so it’s not surprising that sometimes we take a break. Maybe you stopped over the summer, or maybe work has been busy. That’s understandable. Here are our seven tips for getting back into language learning after a long break.

1. Think positively
2. Back up a bit
3. Take your time
4. Start small
5. Expand your language exposure
6. Set a goal (or two)
7. Reward yourself

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1. Think positively

Whatever the reason for your break, it’s time to start fresh. Try to approach your renewed language learning journey with a positive mindset instead of guilt. Be honest with yourself about why your progress stagnated, and make some changes this time around. Maybe you didn’t make concrete goals, or schedule time to keep going with your lessons after a course ended. That’s fine! You’re moving forward now and that’s the important thing.

2. Back up a bit

It’s natural to forget things when you’ve taken time off from working on your language skills. Don’t try and jump back in right where you stopped, but take a few steps back and review. This isn’t going backwards, but consolidating your knowledge so when you do move forward, you will be prepared. Go over your previous class notes and formulate some sentences. Even go back and repeat a few classes if you can. This can help you get your mind around the subject again without the pressure of trying to learn new material as well.

3. Take your time

It’s tempting to go quickly through your review — not really reading half-remembered grammar constructions and skimming vocabulary because it sounds vaguely familiar. Don’t rush it. Review is just as useful as working on new material. You might find things that didn’t quite make sense before, do now that you’ve had some time off. It can be very rewarding reviewing material you learned before, and it will build your confidence to tackle new levels.

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4. Start small

You don’t need to leap straight into an intensive language course to get moving on your language learning journey again. Download some new apps and work on some vocabulary for a few minutes a day, name things in your target language as you go about your daily routine, or imagine a simple conversation with someone and speak your part out loud in the shower. It all helps get your language gears turning.

5. Expand your language exposure

Getting back to class is great, but try immersing yourself in other aspects of the culture as well. Check out food blogs and Youtubers in your target language, make a playlist for car karaoke, or add a few language TikTok creators to your “For You” page. You’ll pick up some new vocabulary, and also get your brain into the rhythm of your target language.

6. Set a goal (or two)

It’s easy to get off track again if you don’t have goals set. Giant accomplishment goals are great, but it can set you up for discouragement in the short term. Setting short- and medium-term goals is a good way to keep your motivation ticking along. Lingoda classes are set up as chapters, with eight classes per chapter. Take a look at how many classes you can realistically take, and set your goals. Two classes a week, with an extra one on the weekend here and there, could see you finish a chapter in a month. Write down these goals! Even just something in your notes app will help.

7. Reward yourself

Achieving a goal is a great feeling, but so is a concrete reward like a new fancy notebook or treating yourself to a lovely piece of cake. Build in some rewards for hitting your goals, even if it’s a small thing like getting a new pen. Properly celebrating your progress is as important as setting those goals in the first place. Go ahead and post on social media that you finished a month of twice-weekly language classes after taking a long break. That’s impressive! And you will no doubt inspire other people to pick up their own language learning again.

Let’s go forward

Setting some short- and medium-term goals, lining up some rewards, organizing your review sessions, and making some new playlists will set you up for success with your renewed language learning goals. Remember to think positively about it and you will make progress.

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Erin McGann is a Canadian freelance writer focusing on travel, living abroad, parenting, history, and culture. After nearly a decade living in the UK, Erin settled in Heidelberg, Germany with her husband and son. Dragging her family to every castle and open-air museum is a favourite activity, along with sewing, archery, and historical reenactment. You can check out her travel blog, and follow her obsession with half-timbered houses on her Instagram account.