Resetting after a break


After taking a long break, forgetting a lot is normal.

Even so, it’s best to not hit the reset button and start at 0.

Your brain will reconnect and learn what you forgot faster than the first time, so it’s more helpful to continue progressing and remember what you forgot piece by piece.

I’m ready to come back to studying.

If you’re reading this, then the above sentence has likely been on your mind recently after a break.

First off, welcome back! We’re glad to see you not giving up on your language journey^^

Anyway, maybe your break was 3 months, maybe it was 3 years. Maybe you’re reached Unit 60 in NativShark, or are going into Phase 3.

You log into NativShark and… you see a giant pile of reviews to do.

And what’s worse, you just can’t remember most of the stuff on the cards.

I want to reset.

…is probably what you find yourself thinking next.

Before we talk about what we should do in this situation, let’s take a bit of a detour:

Wide not deep

It’s generally the most helpful to learn Japanese by studying a wide variety of topics before delving too deep into any particular topic.

This is because, well, Japanese and English are fundamentally different languages from each other.

Trying to perfectly memorize and understand a small piece will more likely lead to frustration than helping.

Compare that to trying to see a lot of different topics and getting a vague understanding of them.

Not only does it help us be more functional faster than if we’re perfectly memorizing a smaller number of things, learning a wider variety actually helps us more deeply understand each individual topic, because now we have more references in this very different language that are starting to connect.

Now that that’s cleared up, let’s talk about…

The dangers of resetting

Resetting has the danger of keeping you in a beginner loop that is difficult to break out of.


Because we are constantly trying to learn the same things over and over when we reset, we’re focusing too much on a single topic instead of trying to make connections throughout the language.

And because we’re just doing the same thing over and over without much progress, we get burned out. Then we quit.

Compare that to if we pick up where we left off:


If we just keep going, then we learn a lot more and feel much more motivated.

When we run into things we have forgotten, we can take a bit of extra time to fill that hole in with some focused review and then we can keep moving.

An analogy

Say you want to go back to school to get a graduate degree in something really technical, like physics. But you forgot a bunch of math you learned in school.

What do you do?:

  1. Go back to 1st-grade arithmetic and study through everything until you reach the graduate degree level again
  2. Just read through a textbook you'll be using for the degree and see which parts you remember, which you don't, and review accordingly

I don’t know about you, but just the thought of doing #1 there gives me chills. And #1 is exactly what happens when we reset our progress.

It’s like throwing a grenade at a door to open it while you have the key in your hand.

So let’s take the second option and keep up that progress^^


Pro tip for what to do if you have a lot of cards built up in your reviews: Spam the smiley face whether you recognize it or not. You’ll see them again, don’t worry^^

Next steps

Once you’re back to studying without a reset, here’s an article that you should find helpful!