I am back, after a two-week break from writing my blog. Even though I promised myself that I would continue learning Japanese, I almost did nothing to learn or be immersed in Japanese during these two weeks…
Some say that taking a break from time to time is not a bad thing and some say that you should not take a complete break and continue to be in contact with your target language. I tend to think that a complete break is not the end of the world in itself and can even have positive effects. However, because it is hard to get started again, it is maybe best to avoid such complete breaks, just to be on the safe side.
But as I did a two-week break anyway, I don’t have another choice than to get started again. I gathered some tips that help me get back on track:
Look for emulation
First of all, I read blogs or watch YouTube videos by people who write/talk about language learning and how to stay motivated and so on. In fact, I often already know what they are going to say, and I don’t really learn something new from their contents. But simply reading or watching what other people say on these matters is extremely motivating.
If I follow some language learners, seeing that they continued to be active while I was enjoying myself encourages me to jump on the train again.
You don’t have to necessarily look for people who learn the same language as you. For example, I always find a lot of motivation in watching videos of artists who show their sketchbooks or people who show their journal where they doodled or wrote on every single page. Reaching a high level of drawing or keeping a diary are two activities that require regularity and consistency. This is why watching such videos encourages me to work on a daily basis.
Look for things you would like to buy
Ideally, I would be sitting at my desk for the sake of Japanese only, without needing to boost myself with consumption greed. But having a list of things that I would like to acquire, things to look forward to or that could serve as a reward, greatly encourages me. It might be things I will never buy because I don’t really need them or they are too expensive anyway, but they serve as a booster anyway.
For example, I haven’t drawn much during these two weeks. But then, I heard about a series of 500 colour pencils called “500色の色えんぴつ Tokyo Seeds” by Japanese company Felissimo. Of course, I don’t need 500 colour pencils, but I spent a lot of time dreaming on their website, and it made me want to pick my own colour pencils again and try to improve myself.
To come back to Japanese, I came across a list of books from the publisher 新潮文庫 called “徹夜本“, books that are so interesting they will keep you awake until the morning. Of course, I need to read them all. Looking at this list of books and selecting the ones I would like to read first makes me want to go back to reading in Japanese and finish the books I already have to be able to buy some of this list.
Keep a language journal
Keeping a journal where you record everything relative to your language studies can be very useful to find the necessary motivation to start again after a break.
In my own journal, I write down the things I did to learn Japanese and a little text about how I feel about it. Sometimes, it is only just a line like “I didn’t feel like studying at all today”, but sometimes I feel very motivated and write down ideas, new goals, things I want to try, how much I enjoy learning Japanese and so on. If you tag these positive entries, for example, you can re-read them when you need a motivation boost.
A journal also helps because it is a collection of all the things you have achieved until now. Looking at it will give you a sense of satisfaction. It is hard to measure our progress by our Japanese abilities because it takes a lot of time and a lot of work before we start feeling the result in our use of the language. But recording your study activity, even loosely, can offer an immediate reward and sense of satisfaction. Not because you are progressing in Japanese, but because you are working towards it.
Try new things
There are infinite ways to learn a language, and there are always new things to try. If you don’t feel like going back to your old study routine or if you feel tired of studying at all, why not try something new? A new app, a new textbook or a new approach. You can also try to work on areas that were not your focus before. For example, if you only learned to read the kanji but had no real interest in writing them, why not give it a try? It can be fun and a good way to get started again.
Personally, the skill I have completely ignore is talking. So I think that I will focus more on that from now on. Not because I want to improve my talking but because I think it can be fun and make me want to study Japanese again.
Also, as talking is my weakest skill, it is also the apter to bring immediate reward. The better you get in a language, the harder it is to feel rewarded by your work. For example, the first 100 words you learn mean a lot to you, but once you know 7000 words, 100 more won’t make a big difference and you won’t be able to feel the benefit of knowing these 100 words. But if you take your weakest skill, it will be easier to feel the progress, especially if you start low like me.
That’s it! That is what I think of doing now to get back on track. If you have tips to go back to a learning routine after a small break, please let me know!
I now have to open my Anki deck that I left untouched for two weeks… 😅