Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

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CardiffGiant
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Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby CardiffGiant » Wed Aug 10, 2022 12:23 am

So I am guessing that it is fairly common to resume learning a language after a hiatus, which is what I am doing currently. I had attempted to learn Spanish while maintaining Italian in 2021 and it became too difficult so I had to put Spanish on the shelf for about 9 months. When I first started the process, I completed reverse translations in Assimil Spanish through lesson 85/100 combined with listening and reading the dialogues. In the past month, I have tried to refamiliarize myself with the dialogues, and I intend to finish what I started in terms of reverse translation. I continue to maintain Italian but I am hopeful of tilting the balance of my time a bit more towards Spanish.

I am curious to hear about the experience of others when restarting the language learning process. Did you attempt to start again from scratch with the same materials, or did you change course completely? For those of you who used Assimil and then stopped, did you return where you left off, or did you perhaps use the materials in a different way? My question is designed to get a sense of what worked you you, and what didn’t. If your experience was with Spanish, all the better, but it is not necessary to offer your thoughts on this. Thanks!
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby leosmith » Wed Aug 10, 2022 2:05 am

These are my recommendations.
1) Reach a solid B2 in Italian before restarting Spanish - this will greatly reduce the need to maintain Italian. Also, do not restart Spanish until you are reasonably sure that you can devote at least 1 hr/day (on the average) all the way up until you reach B2 or better.
2) If you haven't done it already, make sure you have mastered basic Spanish pronunciation.
3) If you put a language in the As on hold for 9 months, you may as well just start over. The good news is that it's Spanish, and you are a native English speaker with Italian skills, so learning should go smoothly. Restart, and good luck!
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby Tom » Wed Aug 10, 2022 4:16 am

I've been attempting to learn Spanish for years. I have taken several breaks. I took a course in the beginning and then switched to consuming native content, i.e. movies, TV and reading. My approach to learning, which is probably not the best, is just watch, listen, read, and occasionally look up words. So other than in the beginning, whenever I've taken a break and then returned, I just got right back up on the horse and started consuming native content again. The only tip I can give, is that when you do take a break, try to maintain at least a little bit of contact with the language. In your case it would be too late for that, but if you were to need a break again in the future, it could be helpful.
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby Xenops » Wed Aug 10, 2022 9:18 am

Lindie Botes has a video on this topic:



Essentially she says to pick up where you left off, and look up stuff as needed. In my case, it probably depends on the language where I can apply this tactic: Japanese yes, French and Norwgian maybe, anything else… :?
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby Le Baron » Wed Aug 10, 2022 12:39 pm

leosmith wrote:1) Reach a solid B2 in Italian before restarting Spanish - this will greatly reduce the need to maintain Italian.

Yes. And to never even start another language if the one you are already pursuing is one that still needs much attention. Otherwise it's just syphoning away energy and attention. The only result can ever be stagnation (and perhaps losses) in a language that is being maintained at a learning point. It means you either have to suck away some of the energy and focus from the new language (which is where is is needed most) in order to maintain the existing progress, or focus entirely on the new one and have the previous one(s) slip backwards.

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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby CardiffGiant » Wed Aug 10, 2022 2:24 pm

Tom wrote:I've been attempting to learn Spanish for years. I have taken several breaks. I took a course in the beginning and then switched to consuming native content, i.e. movies, TV and reading. My approach to learning, which is probably not the best, is just watch, listen, read, and occasionally look up words. So other than in the beginning, whenever I've taken a break and then returned, I just got right back up on the horse and started consuming native content again. The only tip I can give, is that when you do take a break, try to maintain at least a little bit of contact with the language. In your case it would be too late for that, but if you were to need a break again in the future, it could be helpful.


I will do that. I am curious:which course did you use in the beginning and how far in terms of a language level did you reach using this method?
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby Tom » Thu Aug 11, 2022 5:05 am

CardiffGiant wrote:I will do that. I am curious:which course did you use in the beginning and how far in terms of a language level did you reach using this method?


I used Spanish with Paul, which is an online course. This was probably four years ago or so, and I think his course is much different now. I certainly didn't get past the A levels with it, but also I only finished maybe 80%.
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby jeff_lindqvist » Thu Aug 11, 2022 10:07 am

No default answer from me. I have had a fairly solid level in both German and Spanish before "taking a break", but still I've chosen to return to them now and then, and I've even done Assimil from scratch as a "refresher". Many times, with different approaches. From using the course "as intended", to shadowing "the Arguelles way" (with several steps), to reading the lessons over a short period of time... even scriptorium. For other languages I might have chosen to do something else than a textbook, depending on where I've had the biggest gaps. Maybe I lack vocabulary? Maybe I can read OK, but not speak. Maybe it's grammar. Maybe writing.

Back to you. Interference from your Italian? Maybe. Sometimes a related language helps. Sometimes it doesn't. Only you can decide.

Good luck (and have fun).
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Re: Tips when returning to learn a language after a break

Postby zenmonkey » Fri Aug 12, 2022 11:21 pm

jeff_lindqvist wrote:(and have fun).


And don't beat yourself up.
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