Posted on by Ulrike & Peter Rettig

3 Essential Tips for Re-starting Your Language Learning

You had started learning your foreign language in school, but never got very good at it (okay, you even hated it!) But now - a new boyfriend or girlfriend, an exciting travel destination, a foreign job opportunity – suddenly got you interested again.

Maybe you also saw some slick advertisements by Rosetta Stone, heard about the free Duolingo, GamesforLanguage and other language courses. So, how do you get back?

The simple answer is: You first have to find a way to develop a daily habit, even it it's just a few minutes a day.


1. Set a modest, attainable short term goal, for example 15 minutes a day for 21 days. Then set a new goal.

2. Schedule a daily reminder on your PDA, Phone, Laptop, Mac/PC for a time when you can actually spend those 15 minutes.

3. 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.

As we had suggested in 3 Tips for Adult Language learners – Part 1: Beginners, you quite likely will also have to “test materials/systems/programs that fit your learning style” and the skills you want to improve.

But, as important as finding the “perfect" language learning program for improving your language skills, remember this: No matter what you want to become proficient in: math, reading, yoga, karate,football. basketball shooting, writing, meditation ... the key seems to be - any way you goggle it:  "Daily, Steady Practice."

And once you have gotten into the habit of learning and practicing again, there are many ways to keep going. You'll find a few ideas for "non-beginners"  in Part 2.

But you won't make much progress, until you develop a daily habit with your new language - whether looking up a grammar question in a book, doing a lesson online, reading a foreign newspaper article, or a chapter of a book, watch a foreign movie or video, participate in an online community, or best: listen to and talk with somebody in the foreign language.