5 Tips for Picking Up a Language Again After a Long Break

Taking a break from learning a new language can be healthy, but sometimes a short two-week break can turn into months, then years, and before you know it you’ve forgotten nearly everything you learned in the first place. Maybe you set aside that language so you could focus on another, or you got too busy, or you simply burnt out—we’re not judging—but now is the time to give that language a little love and attention, don’t you think? While picking up a language again after a long break can seem even more daunting than when you first started learning it way back when, there are some ways to make the process just a little bit easier. Check out these 5 great tips for getting back into your language relationship, and before you know it you’ll be bouncing right back into that language groove!

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1. Review

Once you get back to studying your target language you’ll probably be surprised at how much information you remembered from the first time around. Even so, it’s a good idea to start your review process from the bare-bones very beginning. While beginner’s French might seem too easy to you, reviewing it can strengthen your language foundation and make learning more advanced grammar and vocabulary a smoother process. You may be tempted to rush through the review course, but take your time! You’ll still go faster than when you were a true beginner, but you want to make sure you’re really reviewing, retaining, and reinforcing information, not just brushing over it.

2. Study

There’s a lot more study time involved when you’re playing catch-up and this is especially true with languages! You’ll need to be sure you can dedicate time every day to studying so you can get back to your former level as quickly as possible. The good news is, you won’t feel overwhelmed because most of your study will be reviewing information you’ve already looked at before. Once you get back to your former level you can dial back on the intense study sessions—but make sure you still stay committed to practicing your language every day!

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3. Speak

Your speaking skills may feel very rusty, but the best way to get them moving again is to take them for a bit of exercise! Get yourself talking in your target language right away, even if you’re struggling to remember words and feel like everything is coming out as gibberish. Speaking is a great way to dust off that vocab you’ve pushed to the back of your mind and give that grammar a good oiling. You may even surprise yourself with how much you can still say!

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4. Engage

Don’t delay in finding a native-speaker who is willing to patiently engage with you in your foreign language of choice. While language exchange partners are a great idea, be careful about relying too much on them. Since one person in a language exchange pair is usually stronger in the language they want to practice, you might end up feeling like you’re helping them more than they are you (or vice versa). Tutors and teachers, although more expensive, are definitely a much better option if you’re serious about language recovery. A teacher can help you advance more quickly and can effectively teach you the more advanced aspects of the language you’ll encounter later on.

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5. Push

Usually a long language break starts with the decision to skip vocabulary review just for one night. Then the next night you find you’re too tired and each day adds up until suddenly you can’t remember the last time you actually sat down to study. To prevent this from happening again, create a safety net that will keep you on track and make you push yourself forward. Set up a routine where you study at the same time every day. Find a language partner who will hold you accountable if you fall off the wagon. And pinpoint your problem areas and change your study habits! Are you less likely to study at night after work because you’re tired? Then do it in the morning, during your commute, or while you’re on your lunch break. Does your usual tutor live on the other side of town? Then find an online teacher so you don’t have to leave home!

Are you picking up a language again after taking a long break? What are some of the ways you keep yourself motivated and on track? Share your tips with us!