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break from learning a language Just wondering if a bit of a break from language learning can  reinvigorate you?    How long  is good and how long is too much?   Maybe it is summertime laziness but I have sort of lost my motivation for learning Spanish.    Anyone experience this?
Jul 17, 2016 12:37 AM
Comments · 6

It never did me any good to take a break. Every time I did this, what I wanted to be a short break turned out to be a long period with no contact with the language at all. Hopefully today I am past this never ending circle of leaving and starting all over again. Keeping my past experiences in mind, I just try to ignore all the frustration that goes with learning a language and remind myself that each and every piece of effort just adds to the momentum, no matter how frustrated I am.

My post is not intended to be motivational though, because I still suck at Spanish :/

July 17, 2016

Hi Jean, 

I'm really interested in seeing what other people answer to your question because frankly, for literally the first time in my life, I have NO desire to keep studying languages.  Heck, I don't even want to speak German anymore, let alone study it.. and I LIVE IN GERMANY so it's really important that I improve my German as I use it A LOT everyday.  And to be honest, I feel the same way about Italian and Spanish, even though those languages are much easier for me.  

I've gone from having 2-3 lessons a week to having almost no lessons since April.  I thought a break would help, but here it is nearly August and I still feel completely blah about having more lessons.  I have wonderful teachers for each language and I miss talking to them regularly.  Our lessons were always fun and interesting, so that wasn't the problem. I've made so little progress with German especially that I honestly feel just like trying to maintain the fluency I have and accepting that I'm always going to stink at this language.  Sigh. 

I hope someone here will answer and tell us that they came through a similar block and continued on to make great progress in their language.  I need some motivation!  

July 17, 2016

Hi everyone. To take my personal experience, when I fill lost of motivation I begin just to listen my favorite music. And what about break maybe it has some sense but try in this time find beautiful songs and translate them this way you will not be distance of language but your study will not be so pressure .

 Good luck to everyone !!!!!!!

July 21, 2016

Hi Jean,

I've taken breaks here and there and it's no big deal. If you love the language and the culture, you'll be drawn back to learning it. Keep in mind that if you take too long of a break (more than a few months), you will lose the language a little. I studied German for a few months and got to a high A2, but now I can barely introduce myself. I can still understand a lot if I read though. If I took the language up again, I know I'd need time to go over the basics, but it wouldn't be the same as starting to learn from scratch. 

If you find you've lost your motivation, you should ask yourself why. I think a lot of people get to a reasonable level in a language where they can understand and have basic conversations, and then they don't push past that level, which is fine if it suits their purposes. I took a break from learning Spanish for a few months because I found I was covering the same material and not progressing. Then I got a teacher again and that motivated me to push to a higher level. Now I'm approx. a B2 level, and I have no desire to go beyond that. It suits my purposes. 

I also took a break earlier when learning Spanish because I found I was studying a lot but nothing was sinking in. I took a short break of a few weeks and when I returned, I understood everything well.

Learning a language takes effort and time, and it's natural to feel discouraged at times. Of course, it's up to you whether you choose to continue or not. If not, at least you gave it a try and I'm sure you've learned a lot more than you think. If you choose to continue, then you'll open up new doors and experiences with a language that is incredibly rich and diverse. 

July 19, 2016


In my opinion taking a break of any length of time is the easiest road to unintentionally quitting a language, especially if you come back to it and start to feel like you're playing snakes and ladders and have hit a very large snake. But that said... I've found that throttling back periodically is not a bad idea. Sign up to a site like Duolingo and just do a few exercises each day; or maybe listen to the recorded dialog on an audio course; 10 or 20 minutes maybe. It lowers your expectations (and therefore your frustration since you expect less of both yourself and your language learning) but keeps you in touch with the language. You're no longer running a tap into your mind but giving it a slow drip which has more time to seep in.

If I had to guess you're somewhere in early stage 3, Emily is late stage 3, and I'm sitting on the border of stages 3 and 4. I'm taking a pretty intensive lesson load at the moment ahead of a trip to Europe, but I've come to accept that I'll never be mistaken for a native. When I come back I'll still study every day... just less than I am now.

Yes, this will be the start of a long stage of slow progress, but there are far worse ways of spending 10 or 20 minutes a day. (Well, 60 occasionally; I expect I'll still normally do at least one Italki session per week.) And it keeps the routine which, like with exercise, is the important thing. Other people's mileage may vary, but that's my take on it.

July 17, 2016
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