Overcoming The Intermediate Plateau


Overcoming The Intermediate Plateau

Effective Strategies and Tools For Language Learners

By Geralde Vincent-Bancroft

Learning a new language can be an exciting and fulfilling experience, but it’s not without its challenges. One of the main obstacles that language learners face is the intermediate plateau. This is a stage in the learning process where progress seems to stall, and learners find themselves struggling to improve their skills.

 In this blog post, we will discuss effective strategies and tools for overcoming the intermediate plateau and continuing to make significant progress in your language learning journey.

picture of a plateau and overlaid written overcoming the intermediate plateau

What is the Intermediate Plateau?

The intermediate plateau is a common phenomenon that occurs when language learners reach a certain level of proficiency in their target language. At this stage, they feel comfortable reading and writing in the language, but still struggle to express themselves clearly.  They also start to notice that their progress has slowed down considerably. They find it challenging to continue to improve their skills, and they may become frustrated with their lack of progress.

The difficulties of the Intermediate Plateau

The intermediate plateau  presents several difficulties for language learners. The most significant challenge is that learners may feel like they have hit a wall and cannot progress any further. This can cause demotivation and frustration, leading to a loss of interest in learning the language altogether. 

Additionally, learners may also become overconfident in their abilities and fail to identify areas that still need improvement.

Tactics for Overcoming the Intermediate Plateau

Focus on Specialisation

 One effective strategy for overcoming the intermediate plateau is to specialise in a specific area of the language. For example, if you are learning Spanish, you can focus on a particular topic such as politics or business. 

Focusing on a specific area of the language helps to develop a deeper understanding of the language and improves your ability to communicate effectively in that specific context.

Expand Vocabulary 

Another way to push past the intermediate plateau is to expand your vocabulary. Learning new words and phrases is an essential part of language learning, and it can help you improve your speaking and writing skills. You can use flashcards to memorise new vocabulary or take advantage of language learning apps like Memrise or Quizlet.

Practice Listening and Speaking 

Improving your listening  and speaking skills is crucial to overcoming the intermediate plateau. Try to practice listening to conversations, podcasts, and news broadcasts in your target language regularly. This will help you develop your listening comprehension skills.

 Additionally, speaking with native speakers or taking conversation classes can also help you improve your speaking skills.

Learn Grammar 

Many learners tend to neglect grammar when they reach the intermediate plateau, but it is an essential aspect of language learning. Learning grammar rules and sentence structures can help you express yourself more accurately and naturally.

 There are many online resources that can help you learn grammar in an interactive and engaging way.

Avoid Common Mistakes

One common mistake that learners make when dealing with the intermediate plateau is becoming too comfortable with their current level of proficiency. It’s essential to continue challenging yourself and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

Another common mistake is focusing on passive learning instead of active learning. Passive learning, such as watching TV or reading books, can be beneficial, but it’s essential to practice actively  using the language to see significant improvement.

 Change your learning methods.

If you’ve been using the same learning methods for a while, it’s time to switch things up. If you’re still using textbooks and flashcards, it’s time to try something new. There are a lot of great resources available online and in libraries. You can find podcasts, movies, TV shows, and even video games in your target language.

The key is to find learning methods that are fun and engaging. If you’re not enjoying yourself, you’re less likely to stick with it. So experiment with different methods until you find something that works for you.

 Be patient.

Learning a new language takes time and effort. There will be times when you feel like you’re not making any progress. But it’s important to be patient and keep practicing.

The more you practice, the better you’ll get. So don’t give up. Just keep learning and you’ll eventually reach your goals.

Technology to Aid Progress

Technology can be a great tool to aid your progress in overcoming the intermediate plateau. Language learning apps like Babbel and Rosetta Stone offer interactive lessons and quizzes that can help you improve your skills.

 Additionally, language exchange apps like HelloTalk  can connect you with native speakers for conversational practice.


 The intermediate plateau is a common obstacle that language learners face. Overcoming it is not easy, but it is possible. However, by specializing in a specific area of the language, expanding your vocabulary, improving your listening and speaking skills,  you can push past this stage and continue to make significant progress.

 Remember to avoid common mistakes and actively practice using the language. Finally, take advantage of technology to aid your progress and make your language learning journey more enjoyable and effective.

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