Breaking Through: Strategies to Surpass the Intermediate Language Learning Plateau

The intermediate plateau is a common phenomenon experienced by language learners who have progressed past the beginner level, but are not yet fluent. At this stage, students may find that their progress seems to slow down or stop altogether.It can be frustrating when it feels like the process requires a lot of effort but you aren’t seeing much improvement.

The intermediate plateau is caused by a number of factors, including a lack of challenging input, an overreliance on memorization, and a lack of opportunities to use the language in real-life situations. Here are some specific tips and tricks to help get past the intermediate language learning plateau:

  1. Seek out more challenging input: Maybe you aren’t being challenged enough. Read more advanced books, watch TV shows or movies without subtitles, and listen to more complex dialogues.
  2. Immerse yourself in the language: The more you surround yourself with the language, the more opportunities you’ll have to practice and improve. Look for language exchange partners, attend language meetups, or even travel to a native speaking area.
  3. Practice using the language in real-life situations: Put your language skills to use as much as possible. Have a conversation with a native speaker, writing an email to a French friend, or giving a presentation in French.
  4. Focus on understanding and not just memorizing: Instead of focusing on memorizing lists of vocabulary words, try to understand how the words are used in context.
  5. Learn through authentic materials: Instead of relying on textbooks, find news articles, podcasts, and videos; novels and movies; pop music in your language; and friendship groups of native speakers.
  6. Get a language tutor or take an advanced class: Working with a tutor or taking a class provides valuable feedback and helps you focus on your weaknesses.
  7. Stay motivated and patient: Remember that progress takes time and effort. Stay motivated by setting realistic goals, celebrate small wins and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see progress as fast as you’d like.

It’s important to note that no two language learners are the same and what works for one person may not work for another. It’s also important to be patient with yourself and not to compare your progress with others. With time, effort and perseverance, you will overcome the intermediate plateau and continue to improve your French.

If you are interested in finding out how to learn French by reading newspapers, check out this indepth article about French newspapers, and how to use them to improve your French reading fluency.

Cate is a language enthusiast sharing her language learning journey here. Apart from her native English (albeit 'Strine'*!), as an adult she has also learned Auslan (Australian Sign Language) to approximately a C1 level, Dutch to around B1/2, French to around A2, and has a smattering of other languages.

B.A. (Anthropology/Marketing), Grad. Dip. Arts (Linguistics), Grad. Cert. Entrepreneurship & Venture Development, (CELTA).

Auslan Interpreter (NAATI), and general Language Nut.

*For more information on 'Strine', visit