You will learn about the English Levels, how to keep going when learning gets tough,
and some very simple ways to improve and feel better.
This article is based on scientific studies made easy to understand.
What is Learning Plateau?
English Learning Plateau How to Get Unstuck and Feel Better
Learning Plateau = Not Learning as Fast, Same Effort Less Improvement? This is not only common when learning a new language, it is inevitable. Learning vocabulary when starting, everything is a victory and fun, then beginning to talk and having a lot of fun is so great.
Then comes testing, having perfect grammar, judging yourself and much more difficult tasks.
Not as easy or as fun?
What English Level Are You ?
Levels and Difficulty of English Learning
Learning to speak, listen, write, comprehend and read English takes a while.
Many platforms or schools will make big promises about how fast you can improve.
Some, such as improving pronunciation, passing interviews, learning to communicate for travel, learning techniques to pass standardized exams can be very good and work well for you.
Most unfortunately are sales gimmicks and lies. A lot of these can be quite popular getting 1.2 million views for a video about learning 10,000 new words.
Don't listen or try these.
Do understand the normal levels everybody experiences.
The Language Learning Levels
Beginner when starting out, excited, and motivated. Having Fun.
Pre-Intermediate where people must work hard and are learning fast and begin to put language together to use it and communicate, but still have things confused and are unsure.
Intermediate where you can put things together but make many mistakes and learning slows down due to details that must be learned or memorized.
Upper Intermediate to Advanced is when you can do well on tests, travel using the language, talk about topics, and communicate about a wide variety of subjects. This can be a long stage with a lot of learning.
Near Native or Fluent is when you sound like people from the language. It is easy for you. You can read a book in the new language or watch TV and understand without subtitles.
When somebody feels they are not learning as fast
they can become discouraged.
What is Being Stuck?
Being Stuck = Fossilization
There is a word = Fossil. This can be something very old that is preserved. It also is used for language learners who hold onto their own native language and can't fully use the new language.
We call this "Temporary Fossilization" If someone quits trying it becomes permanent. Language businesses and schools recognize this and do one of two things: They try and get people unstuck and loving learning again, or they accept it as normal and even expect it from teachers and students.
I call this the "I'm Ok Plateau" I am good enough. I am better than my friends.
or for teachers "I am better than my students". This is the opposite of:
Many mentors and motivational speakers tell us to surround ourselves with people much better than us and try to aspire to be like them. Set high standards and set high goals in order to become great!
If you are working hard, studying a lot and do not feel you are learning as fast as before (diminishing returns) then it is necessary to find a way to jump start your learning and kick it into gear!
How Can You Get Moving
And Be Happy?
Getting Unstuck = Deliberate Practice
The longer you study the much harder and much more pressure.
One of the first things to do right now is to understand that only you can decide on how much you are improving.
As part of this is something called "Deliberate Practice"
Again we can divide this into two groups: One group practices a lot and is motivated. The other does not.
Deliberate Practice is the Most Important Factor in Getting Unstuck and off the Learning Plateau.
It is very important know what to practice and this is the problem.
Three Big Problems in English Education
Motivated learners might be practicing terrible, outdated, and boring content that will not make them feel good or improve their English.
This is a big problem in Language Learning.
A second big problem si the emphasis on grammar and other methods as the primary way to learn English.
This does not work. Grammar is slow and ineffective for learning.
The third big problem is that it takes practice and many are too busy, shy, or do not have the opportunity to practice.
Until You Read This
Progress Slowed = Want to Quit
Learning English at first is exciting and easier. The fun of being able to ask simple questions and answer. No demands, no pressure. Not too much is expected of you right? Do you remember when you started?
Then it got even better when you could make a friend and have a short conversation.
Later, especially if studying in school, for iELTs, Cambridge Exams, Studying for Scholarships and all sort of measurable and demanding studies, you begin to take test.
You must do longer presentations. Grammar, intonation, and idioms become part of what you need to do well.
The result is that you may be overwhelmed, too much work, and feel you cannot do it. Want to quit.
Learning English is Easier at First
LATER it is More difficult.
Why You Should Feel Better?
Feel Better About Being on the Plateau
Learning Plateau is supposed to make someone feel good? Are you crazy?
It sounds crazy however if you search for this and read the first ten results, they all emphasize that the reason you slow down on what you are learning is because you have already learned a lot! So feel good yet? No I don't think so 🙂
The real trick is how you set your goals and what you practice.
If your immediate and short term goals are too high and the things you practice too difficult you can never feel great or even good about your English Level.
The way to get unstuck on the learning plateau is to reset your goals and find appropriate things to study.
Accomplishments lead to feeling better.
What - How - Why
What You Study-
Whether you study for school exams, standardized test such as IELT or TOEIC it is a lot of work. If you are doing it the right way you not only need to study English, you also need to study the format of the test and what they want.
Self study can be the best if you know where to find things to study. If not this can be very difficult.
Are you studying for a goal, because your parents want you to, or to improve your chances of having better future ?
How You Study-
If you are in a school or English Center they will choose how and what materials you study. If you are a self-learner you may have a great technique or exchange ideas with friends.
Maybe you follow gurus or people who promise too much. This can give you goals that you cannot reach.
Why You Study -
Most important is why you study. This determines the motivation and what helps you study when things get tough.
When it is difficult and seems like work rather than having fun.
The best reasons for motivation seem to be very personal.
The economic gain must be stronger than the "I am OK" factor.
Knowing the answer to these questions will help you get going.
You Are OK But
OK is NOT Enough!
I am OK But I am Discouraged Also
Example: Someone likes English, Had Fun Learning but then got busy with family or life or work and did not have that much time. It became difficult for them to improve English and so they feel discouraged.
There is a simple solution. There is only one solution.
First the problem is that the goals are too difficult to accomplish for one of any number of reasons.
Secondly, you must advance at a level a little higher than your current level.
Having high goals is good and commendable.
Wanting or needing to reach them too fast is not possible.
In order to have good goals you either must set them for yourself or have someone that knows you and cares about you set them. Parents must push their children to learn and provide them with realistic goals. I often encounter kids, or even university students, who are trying to achieve goals that are out of reach for their level.
Goals, in your imagination should be a big goal at the top of a tall stairway. Each step is the next goal. Unless you are super human, you must get to the main goal step by step. if not it is like looking at a piece of fruit high up in a tree that you can't get. Maybe you can climb the tree or get a ladder. The point being is that you must have a way to get to your goals step by step.
The Way Everybody Succeeds
Rewards for Attaining Your Goals
Nowadays when I am working on my computer, I try to set bigger goals like finishing an article or lesson. In order to reach the goal may take 8-10 hours. I make sure I get up and walk around after 40 minutes or so as a small "reward". Maybe after finishing 25% I can have another cup of coffee or some treat (like chocolate). When I get a little stuck I watch a you tube video or search something about sports or news. Any small reward helps.
When I finish the lesson I congratulate myself.
I mark a check box by the goal.
I tell someone that I finished something.
If it is a really big goal maybe I will go out to dinner or another reward.
Huge Goals and milestones I take a little or big vacation!
You see that i acknowledge to myself I did it, I physically check off a box saying I did it, I give myself some reward whether a coffee or chocolate or a big vacation. A reward is given and appreciated.
Perhaps the biggest kinds of rewards a high mark ona test, passing an interview, being acknowledged by peers.
All are great and we must appreciate ourselves for our hard work and accomplishments.
Your Thinking About
The way you talk and think about what you are doing.
Like many people I try my best and if I do not succeed I feel like I failed. The key way to discuss this is that I or You have not succeeded yet. Keep trying and success will come.
I read a study this morning that said that when we are hard on ourselves we set ourselves up for failure. When we say we have not accomplished it yet, the next goal is clear, so keep trying step by step.
And remember Learning English takes a long time to be great.
Feel good about all the things you know already!