What do I do when I feel like my English is not improving?
Overcoming a language learning plateau.
Sometimes learning English can feel exciting, plenty of new words to discover, lots of interesting things to listen to, lots of interesting conversations with new people.
Learning a language is sometimes like peeling an onion. You start with the outside layer, full of the most common words and grammatical constructions, and then as you start taking off the layers, you find lots more detail, things that you never knew about or could hope to imagine.
At times it’s exhilarating but then sometimes it’s overwhelming and challenging.
Then, inevitably, you will hit a plateau point. It happens to us all. This is a point where you feel like your progress is really slow, or possibly you think that you’re not making any progress at all. You start to question your methods, your teacher or you feel like giving up. After all, you could just use Google Translate and Google Intrepret, right?!
Learning English is really an awesome tool and be able to communicate well can open so many doors.
So what can you do?
Well, here are my 5 best tips to overcome a language learning plateau and continue improving:
TIP #1: Mix it up!
Many students are guilty of staying with the same English teacher for years. It’s great that they have found a wonderful teacher, but after a while, you can get too comfortable. You know their way of teaching, their accent, and you know that if you don’t do your homework, they won’t mind!
Try booking classes with other teachers, try joining a conversation class or a writing class or something that you normally don’t do.
It’s the same for the way you study. If you normally like using DuoLingo, why not try LingQ or Memrise for a change.
If you always read the BBC news, how about switching to the NY Times?
Look for ways to mix up your routine.
At English on the Run, all of programmes offer the chance to book classes with different teachers, with different accents and styles of teaching. We like to keep you on your toes!
TIP #2 – Take charge!
It’s important that you study materials and content that is relevant and interesting to you. There is no use taking the C1 Cambridge exam if all you want to do is be able to have a good job interview in English.
Work with a teacher to define a curriculum that works for you. Even in a group class, a teacher can usually accommodate different requests from students.
Listen, read, consume content in English that you enjoy and the learning will come naturally!
TIP #3 – Just journal
This tip comes from one of our teachers, Joseph. He recommends sitting down for 15 minutes a day and just writing whatever comes to mind.
Write about your day, your English class, your work, how you feel, what you’re going to do next. Ideally, you could try to incorporate some new words that you’ve learnt or look up some new words that you were missing.
Some days, you may just keep it simple, some days you may write a lot, just go with the flow.
Journalling is writing like how you speak, not how you write when you have to write an email or a report. It helps you develop your speaking skills as well as you’re writing skills.
TIP #4 – Let go of grammar!
A lot of my clients learnt most of their English at school and one thing that was very important at school was…GRAMMAR!
Yes, grammar is important but communicating is more important.
I’d much prefer to speak with someone who is not so accurate but speaks clearly and with confidence.
If you practice grammar, use it in situations that are relevant to you. As adults, we really need to let go of the grammar book and just jump right in!
If you going to focus on anything, focus more on vocabulary, useful expressions that can help you communicate more clearly.
TIP #5 – Look at your mindset
Could you have a fixed way of thinking about yourself that stops you from succeeding with English?
Maybe you’re guilty of feeling one of these things:
- My accent is too embarrassing
- Everyone else speaks better than me
- I don’t have enough vocabulary
- It takes too much effort to learn English
- I’m just not talented with languages
It may seem like a little thing, but the internal soundtrack that we play in our head is crucial.
We need to overcome these negative thoughts and start creating a mindset for success.
So, what do you think?
Which tip could you try out today?
If you think you need professional help, book a 15 minute chat with me today and we can explore your story.
Book here: https://ontherun.as.me/letschat