As we are continuing to develop our gamesforlanguage.com program we are encouraged by the many comments we are receiving from the players of our story-based courses and Quick Games.
We know that most of our scenes (i.e.lessons) can be played in less than ten minutes, and we recommend that a player not play more than 1-2 scenes per day.
We are also well aware that stops and starts are pretty common for people who are learning a new language. Setbacks happen, and the reasons are legion. But a successful return doesn't have to be hard.
So, how do you get back?
The Daily Habit
The simple answer is: You have to find a way to develop a daily habit - like brushing you teeth - even it it's just a few minutes a day.
1. Get yourself motivated again: Unless you already have specific travel plans, pick a great travel destination (Barcelona, Sevilla, Rome, Venice, Paris, Corsica, Berlin, Salzburg ...) google some pictures, and see yourself there: Traveling and Language Learning - They Go Together.
2. Adjust the bar: Don't aim for perfection or high proficiency right away. Aim for starting to speak in the language, having simple conversations, asking direct questions; aim for beginning to understand basic conversations, start to read headlines, short dialogs.
3. Set a modest, attainable short term goal, for example 15 minutes a day for 21 days. Then set a new goal.
4. Schedule a daily reminder on your PDA, Phone, Laptop, Mac/PC for a time when you can actually spend those 15 minutes.
5. Identify the skills you need to work on especially, and focus on these. Learning a foreign language means that you are working on several skills at the same time.
You are training your ear to distinguish between sounds that may be foreign to you; you are intuitively processing grammar structures; you are training your mouth to produce sounds that may be unfamiliar; you are learning a new spelling; you are challenging your brain to make new associations between sound and meaning, etc.
6. Trust yourself and your ability to learn this new language. You learned your mother tongue pretty well, didn't you? If it's English, congratulations! For many foreigners, English is hugely challenging because of its idiomatic structure and difficult spelling!
7. From time to time, push your limits a little, stretch your mind: It may be listening to a foreign radio station, tape, CD, Ipod, a story you know already in English; do this on your way to/from work, or some time after dinner in the evening. Find a soap on the Internet in the language you want to learn, write an e-mail to a friend, say and act out a few foreign words to a friend, to a sibling, or to your kids ...
Daily, Steady Practice - Have Fun
No matter what you want to become proficient in: math, reading, yoga, karate, basketball shooting, writing, meditation ... the key seems to be - any way you google it: "daily, steady practice."
The continuous improvement idea, introduced to the west as "Kaizen" by Masaaki Imai for improvements of processes in organizations, can also be applied to your language learning: Small changes over time will bring noticeable results.
Daily language practice will give you a regular connection to the language.
Steady practice will strengthen your self esteem. It'll help you develop a small discipline that could easily spill over into other things.
You'll improve a little every day, and eventually that will show up big time
Be loose. Be patient. Have fun!