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Best Study Strategies for Hindi Urdu Learners while Taking a Break from Regular Language Sessions

So you moved to India to live and learn language and the inevitable travel has come up.

For which of the following have you traveled since moving to India?

  • vacation

  • renewing a visa

  • attending a work conference

  • domestic travel while visitors are in town

  • going out of country to spend time with family or friends

  • travel for a major family life event: birth or death of a loved one, wedding, etc.

  • other

Things like these will inevitably come up causing you to have to pause or stop learning Hindi, Urdu, or other South Asian languages in order to attend to these other life things. But what effect will all this travel have on your language growth? Will you forget everything you've learned? Will you be able to come back at the same place you left off? Is there anything that you could or should be doing during that time off to take better advantage of that break?

Give yourself some time off when learning a new language...but not too much time off

Well, you're not alone. Most of our learners at Launch India are learning from within India and most need to take off time for weeks or even months at a time before returning back with us.

Most researchers say that the number one indicator of success in language learning is TIME SPENT LEARNING THE LANGUAGE. So a general principle that we encourage is to get back into regular language sessions as soon as you can.

You will not see a lot of growth during your time off. You may be able to manage maintaining some things you've learned. There may be some benefit to keeping Hindi in your head. But usually, this is very difficult to maintain while traveling. You often have a lot of different things on your plate. You are seeing family you haven't seen for awhile. You have busy days traveling or you just need time to rest.

There can be so much benefit to all of that because you as a whole person are learning Hindi and you need to maintain spiritual, physical, emotional, mental health in order to be able to come back strong. So there actually can be a lot of wisdom in just taking a clean break and letting yourself enjoy a week or two off.

Listen to Hindi Urdu Recordings that you understand 100%

But if you know you have an extended time coming up where regular language sessions don't make sense with your schedule but you do think you will have some spare mental capacity, you've already refreshed yourself and are ready to keep learning Hindi...then the number one thing you can be doing to maximize your language learning growth is to listen to recordings that you 100% understand.

This is called MASSIVE COMPREHENSIBLE INPUT. There isn't much value in listening to resources that you largely do not understand. Your brain will be able to pick out a few things you recognize. But you aren't doing yourself a great service while doing this but rather you are just spending concerted time in confusion. You aren't just magically going to have clarity on the words you are hearing but do not understand. It will require looking up a lot of things on Google and this interaction is often not a very strong encounter with new words.

Whereas the times you come across a new word or review words during live sessions with a language mentor/Nurturer, then you have much more powerful encounters with those words where you are negotiating the meaning of the words using Urdu/Hindi, using pictures, in the context of a story. When you go back and listen to recordings of previous phases or of the phase in which you currently are studying- and not just the Word Log Recordings- but the actual story you listened to- that Phase 3 recording file folder and relisten to Pride & Prejudice, Harry Potter, Avengers, local Panchantantra stories in your language of study even if your phase is beyond this- relistening to these familiar recordings is the best thing you can be doing for your Hindi growth.

Because you have already theoretically worked through these recordings at some point in your regular live language sessions and worked towards 100% comprehension- now when you re-listen, your brain is not only going to take in that vocab as review but it will also start having the capacity to note grammar constructs you missed the first time around, to take the vocab and encounter it again within a powerful context that will bring back a much stronger recollection of the meaning of that word. Your ability to then use those words later will increase significantly.

So re-listen to old recordings. I have a hard time recommending much else unless you truly just enjoy using your rest time to watch Hindi/Urdu serials or Bollywood films or TV shows in these languages. There can be benefits of this, but if you are not yet at a phase where you are reaching near full comprehension of what you are hearing, there is a limit to how much that is actually benefitting you.

Start with your old recordings and go from there.

You won't forget everything you learned when you take a break!

But again- enjoy your break, enjoy your life. And know that when you come back, a lot of people say that after a couple weeks or even a couple months off of Hindi, it's interesting that you will not have forgotten everything you've learned. There will definitely be some lag time for words that were once a little bit higher in your "iceberg" (see the Well Principle diagram). You have found they have sunk lower because it's been awhile since you heard them. But if the initial encounter you had with those words was a strong one, then the odds that those come back more quickly to where they were before are much higher. Yes, you will have to work at it, but that's normal. Anything worth working for requires hard effort and time and energy. So that's normal.

Other people have said that after taking a break it's almost like your brain has had time to re-structure and re-clarify some things and you come back with a different appreciation and a different awareness of where you are at and some things even clarified in your head. But mostly you just need to get back into it and we recommend doing that as soon as possible.

Do take breaks. Do take care of your whole self. But also just know that the number one way you will grow in your language learning is spending time doing that. So quickly getting back into your sessions, taking minimal breaks- that will help you get through especially the Growing Participator Approach (GPA) Phase 1, 2, and 3 slog. These phases are difficult because you are such a beginner still that it just feels like a crawl. The limited vocab you have means you are able to express limited ideas, and it's not as self motivating as compared with what you experience when you get into Phases 4 & 5. All of a sudden, you are now able to hold much deeper conversations with people, and your motivation for learning Hindi/Urdu, your ability to comprehend what's going on around you is so much higher. So when possible, limit the breaks you take when you are in Phases 1-3. Just get through them! Do your best to get through them.

Schedule your language session re-start date before your travels to maintain momentum

Getting to Phase 6- there is nothing like it. In many ways, you are just more soberly aware of all that you still have yet to learn in this incredibly diverse language culture that you've chosen to move into and grow into. However, the amount that you can comprehend in Phase 6 when you listen to a TV show, a series, a movie, a PodCast, a song, is just way beyond where you were before. You will find yourself increasingly joyfully growing as opposed to taking a long break anywhere between 1-5. The odds that you continue to grow from where you stop if you stop earlier than Phase 6 are very low. That can be okay based on your language goals, but if you want to see yourself continuing to grow into this for years and years and years then really prioritizing this and pressing into it for PHases 1-6 is really improtant.

No one else is fighting for your time to learn language and everyone else is competing for it. While our Launch India policies to guard a minimum of 10 hours a week may seem strict, we really hope that it is a service to you in being one place where that minimum requirement of hours spent weekly in language learning is being guarded and advocated for since it will not be advocated for anywhere else.


We hope this summer/ spring/ fall/ winter- whatever- break is blessed and you enjoy it! We hope that you will schedule your start date again for when you will resume and keep sticking to it. If you do feel the desire to schedule in some review time, go back to those old recordings you've listened to before and just listen. Let them wash over you. Listen to something you understand. Even a Phase 2 or Phase 1 recording- something you fully understand- is going to actually benefit you way more than a movie or podcast where you are just struggling to linguistically catch all that is happening.

Love you all! Learn on!

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