R is free, but learning it is costly. Thankfully, there are many good free resources available to help you get started. Assuming you are set-up with a decent working environment, you can now start to learn the R language.
I own a bunch of R books — which i’ll review at a later date — but I do not think you need to invest the time and money in them to get started with learning R.
I got started by spending a day in bed typing as i followed along with the official CRAN Introduction to R. I found this a little terse, and (in retrospect) think that Lam’s Introduction would have been a better place to begin.
The CSIRO course notes are also a useful free resource — as you might expect given that Bill Venables is one of the authors.
There are some useful online courses out there – including this Coursera programme.
You might also like to prepare some ‘cheat sheets’ — doing so is a good learning exercise. Mark, of the great Aussie eco blog Mark the Graph, has produced a collection of very good ones — you might use these to help you learn, and perhaps imitate the scheme if that’s how you remember these things.