Posted on by Ulrike Rettig

7 Ways to Get Your Language Learning Groove Back

Good Habits - (Updated 8/18/2017)

As we are continuing to develop our 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?

Our 7 Ways

The simple answer is: You have to find a way to develop a daily habit - like doing your morning exercise, or brushing you teeth, or having your coffee -  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. Even if your trip will be sometime in the future, imagining yourself going can be a huge motivator. It's been that way for us: 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. Do baby steps, but do them steadily.

3. Set a modest goal.
Make it an attainable, short-term goal, for example 15 minutes a day for 21 days. The idea is to set a goal that you can reach and feel good about. Once you're there, you can always set a new goal, if you want.

4. Schedule a daily reminder.
Put your reminder on your PDA, Phone, Laptop, Mac/PC for a time when you can actually spend those 15 minutes. We're all busy, so is a great way to not have to worry about forgetting.

5. Identify the skills you need to work on.
Focus especially on the skills that need attention. 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.  Focusing on a couple of specific skills makes it easier to notice progress.

6. Trust yourself.
You know you can 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! Be patient with your own language learning journey, persistence is key.

7. Push your limits.
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.

Combine Daily, Steady Practice with Having Fun

Kaizen - 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!