What are your tips on coming back after a long break?

Hey LingQers,

Mid-July I went through a very emotional experience and needed to take a break from my studies, among other things, to focus on my mental wellbeing.

I am glad to say that I made it through the darkness and am much better emotionally. I’ve decided I am ready to return to my studies, but I am finding some “mental resistance” in doing so.

Before I stopped, I was doing splendidly: my speaking was improving immensely, I was learning tonnes of vocabulary, my listening was improving and I was just generally feeling quite motivated.

Now I am not feeling motivated, I am having a difficult time remembering words, I struggle to stay focused when studying and there’s even a voice in the back of my head that is telling me that maybe language learning is not for me.

I have heard this voice tell me that language learning isn’t for me before, I know it’s completely false because when I get into the momentum of it (which takes about a week after a long break it seems), I f’ing love language learning and everything to do with it.

Also, after over four years of on-and-off trying to learn Mandarin, you’d think I’d have given up by now if I didn’t enjoy language learning :wink:

In any case, I wanted to ask you guys:

What tips do you have for coming back to your language studies after a significant break?
What helps you regain your motivation and/or momentum?

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


Thanks for your tips


I think you need to find compelling material, whether to listen or read, and just do it as a routine. After a while I think the motivation will come.


I’m just here to say, your profile pic reminds me of something out of Miami Vice.

But seriously, I think the same as what Marcossfernandes has said, compelling content is key. Personally, meeting native speakers in the target language and having a chat over coffee, beer, tea or whatever is always a big motivator.


Agreed; talking with native speakers, using target language or course, is usually motivating. Even if I feel not motivated or studied out I can listen some podcasts, watch movies or read books that interests me. Those activities are easy to do, like not studying at all, so I just take it easy and wait for the motivation to come.


Hi Edwin,

Be there, done that, many times.

You might feel demotivated for a while if the languages is really hard link Mandarin, where it takes more time to see progress or get to the native content; and if you haven’t learned a language to fluency before and you are still wondering on some level whether it can be done. This is especially possible when you feel like you “plateau” during the long, slow, intermediate stage where it’s a gradual progression up the slope of the inverted hockey stick/handle analogy that Master Steve talks about.

Some things to get back into it:

  1. Just do it.
  2. Only do what you feel like.
  3. Just work on stuff you are motivated to do.

I agree with the others…interesting content. Also, I find watching Steve’s videos on youtube gets me excited and motivated about language learning. Maybe try that (if you haven’t already).


It isn’t wondered that we could forget a lot of words of a foreign language after a long break in learning.
But better to say: we didn’t forget these words, they just became passive for us and we have some difficulties in understanding and using them.
My advice is to step back to the level which is comfortable for you at the moment.
If you feel comfortable, you return your motivation.
And when you return your motivation, you will be able to overtake and even surpass your previous high level quite soon.


Yes, these are good ways to facilitate your motivation. You have been through a lot, and with that in the past and long-gone, you need to focus on moving forward. Native speakers give you a target task to focus on - both short term, and long term.

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I would suggest you to watch some motivational videos and read some good content so that you feel better and than start your studies again with the fresh mind.

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going through a similar thing myself. Had some kind of total mental breakdown around a year ago which has meant I haven’t done any language learning at all. Feeling much better now and trying my hardest to get back into it.

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As always this is just my opinion as I don’t know you at all.

Anyway, I think a person in your life is demotivating you. This might sound unorthodox, but I don’t believe it’s ONLY a voice in your head. I think it’s a person that you know. Someone’s opinion you value for some reason and someone you THINK would judge you for studying mandarin. Take a full minute to figure out who is “mocking” you for studying mandarin. Or whom you feel would mock you.

And also think why they would mock you and think if you expect them to stop in the near future. Maybe you think they think your job doesn’t align with your language learning.

Anyway I think it’s more “other people” than you alone. I think moments like these were you feel very judged by other people whom you know. I would advice you to go some place outside the house were “nobody you know can see you learn a language” and take a look if this privacy makes you freak out less.


Start out easy… Spend some time using Mandarin every day, even if it is only for five minutes. Repeat some of the old material. At some point, it will start coming back to you, and you will regain your confidence.

Look at it as a fresh start. Do you want to change any of your learning strategies, materials, etc?

I took a break from learning Italian late last year, and when I started up again I decided to shift my focus from reading to listening. It was hard at first, but it was worth it and now I am reaping the rewards.