How to Get Past the Language Plateau
Not many people realise but there is no end to learning a language. Even if you think you’ve made it and are ‘fluent’ there’s always more to go. You may have been studying for a number of years and think you have mastered the language pretty well. You can comfortably communicate on holiday or with one of your international teams with ease, but it is so easy to hit your language plateau.
Stagnating in your language learning journey is so easy and, without a bit of effort, you can find yourself going backwards! It’s a natural stage to reach, where you can manage most things, and get around the rest. But, the pleasure of speaking and getting better has gone, and you want it back. You also need to try to be realistic about what you will actually do to keep my Spanish going. So here are some ideas to keep yourself moving towards that peak.
Tips to Get Past the Language Plateau
1. Set Goals
What do you want to be able to do with the language? Find a new job in another country? Speak to your in-laws? Have a more rewarding vacation where you can actually speak to the locals, as opposed to gesturing when all else fails? Think about why you are learning the language, and set about finding ways to practise it in those areas.
2. Read in Your Chosen Language
And read more and more – as much as possible. It doesn’t matter what you read – anything from websites to your favourite novel translated into your chosen language – as everything will help you to recognize correct grammar, and will build your vocabulary. Of course reading something written by a native author will be much more rewarding. Finding a new favourite author in your chosen language is always a fun activity in itself. If newspapers and magazines are your thing then buy one in the language and read the news from a different perspective.
3. Ask Friends to Help
Whether you’re living in your home town or abroad, there will be people there who you know who speak your chosen language. Obviously if you have moved to the country where the language is spoken you will have many more opportunities of this sort for practice. Even a trip to the Boulangerie will give you a chance to speak a few words. However, to improve you need to have correction, which won’t often come from a stranger. Ask your friends to correct you when you speak. Even better, set up a conversation exchange. You can help your friend with English for an hour, followed by them helping you with your language for an hour.
4. Use Flashcards
One of the best ways to build your vocabulary is with flashcards. It is such a simple idea which you can do in the evening for 20 minutes but will have such a great impact on your memory recall and pronunciation. The added benefit is you can also convert it into a game if you have friends or family who are also learning the same language. Reviewing vocabulary is essential for progress.
There is a wide range of podcasts available these days! From language-learning based ones which go through grammar and give you exercises, to radio show style commentaries, discussing the latest news and other more irreverent subjects. You just need to have a look at the ever-increasing selection on Spotify and Apple, and select the ones you like best. The majority are free, so you can sample until you find something you really like.
6. Take a Course
It’s never too late to learn! You will find that however good you are at a foreign language, there’s always something more to learn. The ideal way, if you have the time, is to join a group at the right level. You will then have a regular opportunity each week to focus on the language with a teacher to help you and point out all the little errors.
While all the methods we have listed can help, the only way to get past the language plateau is perseverance and dedication. As we said at the start, there is never an ending to language learning, it is just a case of deciding how high you want to go!
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How to Get Past the Language Plateau with Cactus
If you’re learning a new language or consider yourself ‘fluent’ there is always room for improvement and that is where a course comes in to play. Be it a conversation course to improve your speaking and listening skills or taking the plunge and looking at the next level, Cactus have everything you need to avoid the language plateau.
Cactus offer courses in over 20 different languages available in a range of levels to suit your ability level. Our beginner courses are designed for those completely new to the language you choose, so you don’t have to have any language skills before you start. Not only can you study in one of our language centres, but you can also study at home! With weekly lessons, you can soon build up your skills to be able to converse in one of these countries.