How to get your language learning back on track after a break
Learning a language can be hard work, and it requires a fair amount of dedication. Taking a break is completely understandable, and in fact, it can even be helpful. Studies found that spacing out learning may mean slower results, but the content will stay in our memories for much longer. That means that there’s no wrong moment to kick off your studies again.
Keen to get your language learning back on track but not sure where to start? We’ve got a few tips to help you make a successful comeback.
1. Don’t be discouraged
Instead of berating yourself for taking a break, reframe the scenario. A break gives you a chance to focus on yourself, put energy into other hobbies, and return with renewed motivation. It doesn’t mean it’s over, or you’ve failed, it’s simply a pause in time. Even Michael Jordan took a two-year hiatus from basketball, before returning to win three NBA championships with the Chicago Bulls.
2. Start passively
Learning a language shouldn’t be (and doesn’t have to be) a bore! So pick something that will hold your interest, and restart there. This might be listening to a podcast or watching a TV series in your target language. Or you could find some content creators on YouTube or TikTok who speak your target language and start following them. Basically anything that doesn’t feel like studying. Then, if you notice you missed the language and culture, you’ll know it’s time to ride that wave of motivation and jump back into more active study.
3. Embrace the return learner effect
If you’ve taken a break from study, whether it’s one month or ten years, you’re probably dreading getting back into it over fears that you’ve lost it all. But, if you pick something fun to start with, you may feel like you know more than you thought. Somehow, your language skills are even better than you remember!
This is called the return learner effect. Your brain is always processing and building connections, even in your sleep, so even if you thought you were on a break, your brain wasn't. On top of that, immersing yourself passively in a language takes all the pressure off, leaving just the fun bits. So surpassing your own low expectations will spark something in your brain and give you a boost of positivity and confidence you need to get back into it.
4. Immerse yourself
Consider why you stopped learning last time. Perhaps you didn’t find the right teacher? Maybe you weren’t seeing results. Or it could be that the learning style just wasn’t right for you. A fresh approach might be just the thing to jumpstart your language journey.
Immersive language courses abroad offer just that, combining classroom learning with real-world experiences. Imagine learning new vocabulary in class, then putting those new words and phrases straight to use at a local market around the corner. Or learning about cultural holidays, then sharing the occasion with a host family that evening. Study abroad courses are the best way to get your language learning back on track and make unforgettable memories along the way.
5. Set a goal
Ever heard the saying, “If you don’t know where you are going, you will probably go somewhere else”? Goal setting is important in all aspects of life, especially when it comes to language learning. Think about why you are learning, and set goals based on that. Is it to pass a test, or finish a course? Is it to communicate with friends, family, or on a trip abroad? Maybe you just want to challenge yourself with a new skill. Either way, defining your goal and writing it down will help you stay on track. Some examples might be:
“I want to reach B2 level by the end of the year.”
“I want to spend two hours a week studying and one hour listening to a language podcast.”
“I want to speak to my grandmother without needing a translator the next time I visit her.”
“I want to spend a month learning English in London before the end of the year.”
“I want to pass my next language test with a score of 80% or more.”
Armed with these tips, you’ll breathe new life into your language learning journey. Take it step by step and just keep showing up. Happy studying!