There are only a few hours left before we begin a new year, and it’s the best possible time to make a resolution to challenge yourself to become a better language learner next year. And this doesn’t necessarily mean hours and hours of study every day!
At Coffee Break Languages, we champion the idea of making your down-time your do-time: by using any spare moments of time you find yourself with to work on language-learning, you can make real progress. On this basis, we’ve done the hard work for you, and compiled this list of New Year language-learning mini challenges that can be completed in short bursts, on each day of January 2018. Whether it’s your New Year’s resolution to jump into German, or to freshen up your French this coming year, this list of challenges will help you on your way to language mastery in 2018!

Think of this as a daily checklist – you can take your own path through these challenges, but we’d love to hear how you get on!

My daily challenge for January 2018

Today I will…

  1. Listen to 1 episode of a language-learning podcast
  2. Learn 5 new words, complete with spelling and pronunciation
  3. Watch a TV episode or YouTube video in my chosen language
    – Top Tip: If your chosen TV show offers subtitles, why not challenge yourself and turn on the subtitles in the language you’re learning, as opposed to the English subtitles? This will really help with your comprehension, spelling and pronunciation, as you’ll be able to both hear and see the words.
  4. Read a paragraph in my chosen language aloud
    – Top Tip: Record yourself speaking and listen back to the recording to try and identify where you can improve.
  5. Listen to the radio in the language I’m learning for 10 minutes
  6. Say something to a native-speaker of the language I’m learning, or to a fellow learner
  7. Write my shopping list in my chosen language
  8. Translate my to-do list into the language I’m learning
  9. Introduce myself – by either speaking aloud or writing down what I would say – in the language I’m learning
  10. Work out how to say the current time in the language I’m learning three times during the day
  11. Find 5 words that I’ve partly forgotten since I learned them and learn them again
  12. Listen to a song written in the language I’m learning
    – Top Tip: Read the lyrics of the song while you listen to it – this will help you to understand it (and of course help you to sing along!)
    – Top Tip: Listen to the same song a few times so that you start to distinguish words and phrases more easily
  13. Review 20 words and repeat them to myself out loud
  14. Read a recipe written in the language I’m learning (and use it, if time allows!)
  15. Write 2 sentences in the language I’m learning that demonstrate the last grammar point I learned
  16. Read a page of text in my chosen language
  17. Write out all the conjugations for 3 regular verbs from memory, and learn any that I get wrong
  18. Write out all the conjugations for 3 irregular verbs, and learn any that I get wrong
  19. Read a news article related to a country where the language I’m learning is spoken, either in the language I’m learning or in English
  20. Write a paragraph in the language I’m learning about what I’m doing for the rest of the day
  21. Write out a script or comic strip of a pretend conversation in the language I’m learning
  22. Learn 20 new words, complete with spelling and pronunciation
  23. Shop online for something on a website written in the language I’m learning (you don’t actually need to buy anything!)
    – Top tip: Lots of international companies have equivalent websites for many different countries. Just search ‘Amazon España’, for example.
  24. Write a short paragraph in the language I’m learning about what I did yesterday
  25. Learn a new fact about the culture of a country that natively speaks the language I’m learning
  26. Narrate my life in the language I’m learning for 5 minutes
    “I’m walking into the kitchen because I fancy a cup of tea. I can’t remember where the sugar bowl is. Ah yes, I put it through the dish-washer last night. Now I need to refill it….”
    – Top tip: With this exercise you’re likely to quickly come across words that you don’t know. Write these down in English at the time, and look them up after the exercise. Try repeating the exercise later/the next day when you know the vocabulary.
  27. Describe my surroundings for 2 minutes in the language I’m learning
    – Top tip: As with the previous exercise, you’re likely to quickly come across words that you don’t know. Write these down in English at the time, and look them up after the exercise. Try repeating the exercise later, when you know all of the vocabulary.
  28. Test myself on 40 words that I’ve learned before
  29. Write a poem or song (~4 lines long) in the language that I’m learning
  30. Read 5 pages of a book written in the language I’m learning
    – Top Tip: There are lots of books available which have the foreign language and English printed side-by-side, or why not try starting out with a children’s novel?
  31. Set myself a vocabulary test: test myself on all of the vocabulary I’ve noted down over the past month!
    – Top tip: A great way to test yourself is to take a notebook and fold each page in half, from top to bottom. Then, write down all of the foreign-language words you’ve taken a note of over the past month on one side of the fold, and all of their English equivalents on the other side. Cover one side of the page and recite the translations of the words out loud, one by one. Then cover the other side of the page and translate in the opposite direction.

So, there you have it: the perfect blueprint to starting the year with a language-learning bang!

Over to you

The Coffee Break team will also be taking the challenge, and we’ll post our updates over on Instagram. Let us know how you’re doing in the comments! Good luck!

    12 replies to "31 ways to make January your best language-learning month ever!"

    • Rita


      • radiolingua


    • Sam Wyatt

      These are great ideas! Is there any way to save this list? I’d like to be able to access it daily for the month of January.

      • radiolingua

        The blog article will be here throughout the month – you’ll be able to find it at and you can also download our checklist – just fill in the form on the pop-up that appears at the bottom of the page (unless you have pop-up blockers active). Hope that helps and happy new year, Sam!

        • Sam Wyatt


    • Olga

      I love when you post things. I need help with my spelling!!! Please HELP ME Mark!!!!!


    • Katie

      Le livre “Le Petit Prince” est disponible en anglais, mais j’ai acheté le version originale, en français, pour améliorer ma lecture

    • Vladimir

      I’ve been learning german with you for about four months now, und ich bin sehr sehr glücklich mit meinen Fortschritten. I watch asmr videos auf deutsch so i can get use to listening to native speakers. Vielen Dank! (und es tut mir leid if my german and english are not very good, Ich spreche Spanisch)

    • Claire

      My partner and I are loving your challenge. I am doing French and Italian, and he is a Spanish beginner. It’s great to do while we’re on school holidays here in Australia, and we’re having a lot of fun finding radio broadcasts and vocabulary etc. THANK YOU!

    • Kerri

      I started listening to the French podcasts Dec. 26. Bought 5 lesson to my Kindle, did the free trial, and bought Season One the other day! I’m over the moon with this program. I can actually say more than 5 words and phrases in French! Any French beginners here?

    • Jenna

      I’m ten days late discovering this, so time to catch up! It’s great to do a different language each month!

    • Claire

      We are a bit behind with the challenge but we have had fun today making our recipes. La recette française – Frites de carottes au persil. La ricetta italiana – zuppa di barbabietole. La receta espanol – aguacetes rellenos con ensalada de huevo duro.

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