4 Ways To Overcome The Language Learning Plateau

4 Ways To Overcome The Language Learning Plateau

Learning a language is one of the most rewarding things you can do in your lifetime. Nevertheless, it is still a challenging task, and sooner or later everybody hits the language learning plateau. It’s nothing to be ashamed of, and just like puberty- everybody has to go through it.

What is a Plateau?

Are you familiar with the straight line ridge on a mountain or rock formation? Its usually right before the mountain begins to rise again. It looks something like this /————————————————————/. Well, that’s a plateau, and in language learning, it usually symbolizes stagnancy of progress.


Language Plateau
This is probably a better example than a line and a slash.

How To Know When You’ve Plateaued


  • You feel like you’re not making any progress
  • You feel like you should be light years ahead than your current level
  • Your motivation plummets
  • If you’ve screamed aloud to yourself “NOTHINGS WORKING!!!!”

It’s almost like a disease, isn’t it? Don’t worry though unlike looking up your symptoms on google this one has a cure.

Do you have a case of the plateau?
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

1. Set Realistic Goals

If you’ve plateaued that means your goals are no longer enough to get you through your journey. What I’m saying here is that you’ve already reached where you wanted to go in your journey. So subconsciously you’ve managed to trap yourself in a limbo. You have two options in this scenario:

  • Expand your goals.
  • Change your goals completely

Example 1

If I wanted to learn Japanese to be able to read the “Jojo’s Bizzare Adventure” comic series, then that’s exactly what I would do. I wouldn’t learn vocabulary or grammar to read another series, because that would be outside my goal.



Don’t bite off bits bigger than you can chew. Keep the content you expose yourself to slightly outside of your skillset. You’ll be able to maintain what you’ve learned and what you are currently learning.


Example 2

“I learned Japanese to be able to read fairytales.” If this was your motive, but you’ve realized that you want to expand your understanding of the language to more than just fairy tales, you would need something slightly more advanced than “The Ginger Bread House”. In this case, your next book should be something like “Japanese Mythology “, rather than “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.”

2. Don’t Underestimate Native SpeakersAdobeStock_64840949_Preview

Immersion i.e speaking to native speakers will always be number one in language learning. Think about this, you’re learning a language that you weren’t born with, but somebody else was. That means in order to learn the language in a fluent manner. Keeping silent will do more damage than good in the long run. Textbooks, audio recordings and YouTube singalongs will only get you to a certain point. If you lack communication, then you lack the language. If you can try taking a leap of faith and travel to your target language’s country – that could be just the motivation you need. Not to mention you’ll have the time of your life, culture shock is one hell of an experience.

3. Increase Vocabulary Ten-Fold!

Learn More Vocabulary
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Words are the building blocks to a language, they create everything. How many words are you aware of in your first language? You probably can’t even give me an accurate number. This should be the mindset you have when learning a foreign language. Keep stacking vocabulary, the more the better. Vocabulary acquisition in our native language is unconscious in most cases. If we see something we aren’t familiar with, we don’t take out a notepad and attempt to memorize its origin, spelling and definition. Rather we incorporate its existence into our own.


“The firefighter is using the fire hydrant for his supply of water.” The trick here is that you have no idea what a fire hydrant is. What do you do? You look around to see what the firefighter is using as a source of water.


Categorize your vocabulary

What if one day you studied business-related words, the next day you did science etc. This way you won’t become easily confused when managing massive lists of vocabulary (not that you should be counting anyway).


Learn to incorporate vocabulary into your thought patterns. If you see a TREE that is not just a tree, that my friend is an ARBO. If you see an ARBO, that is not just any arbo, that’s a 木。

This is not JUST a tree
Is this really JUST a tree?

4. Change method and routine – Consistency

Routine is very important in language learning, but it is a double-edged blade. If you stick to one routine and method for too long your brain will go on autopilot. Thus meaning, the enormous amount of information needed to learn a language will not stick.  If you’re accustomed to using software, start writing more often vice versa. Language learning is not a stagnant process by any means so plateauing means you’ve been stagnant for too long.  Changing your routine can give you fresh ideas, restore your focus and re-motivate your agenda.

Final Piece Of Advice

Don’t let the plateau intimidate you! Believe it or not, although the plateau may symbolize a state of stagnancy, you’ve actually made tremendous progress to even get to that point in the first place. Stay creative, be consistent and always remember your motivations!

Foreign Languages: Top 3 Studying Mistakes

Language Learning: Top 3 Mistakes Made When Studying

Learning a language is a complex task. There are so many components in a language that studying it can seem like an obstacle to overcome itself.

Here are the top 3 mistakes made when studying a language.

  1. Using one medium– let’s be honest here people, it’s the 21st century and people have begun to flock to technology to solve nearly any problem. However, it’s important to remember that before we had computers and language software, people of the past would read and mainly use face- to face interactions to learn languages. There needs to be an infusion of different methods to achieve the perfect balance in your study routine. Focusing on one medium whether it be technology, reading, or entertainment isn’t enough.


  1. Not activating passive knowledge: Okay, so you know when you learn a word and it gets sent straight to the back of your brain like you never encountered it in the first place? That’s because in language learning there is this concept of passive vs active knowledge. Passive language is something that you’ve encountered but cannot produce it in any meaningful way that would cause a reactionary response. To effectively study a foreign language, learning how to activate passive knowledge is one of the greatest milestones you can accomplish. You can do this by mainly listening, reading and speaking – any activity that forces you to actively pay attention.


  1. Using one Resource: As I mentioned earlier, using one MEDIUM is not effective- but right behind that logic is the problem of using one resource. Let’s look at software programs for an example. Different programs are built for different things, if I were to use Duolingo to practice my Japanese kanji skills I would be at a lost because Duolingo focuses on rote memorization and passive to active knowledge. So instead I use Wanikani or the Kanji Study app on my phone. Knowing when to switch resources is an essential part of the language learning journey. Using one textbook that only teaches up to B2  when you are trying to achieve C2 isn’t beneficial, it’s damaging. Similarly, why use a resource that focuses SOLELY on grammar, when you are behind on vocabulary? SWITCH IT UP!


Can you identify with any of these ‘bad’ habits? Let me know in the comments!

Optimize your study methods here! 




Language Learning In The 21st Century: Tips and Tricks

Language learning in the 21st century has become very different from the idea of traditional classroom study. With so many free language learning programs where you can learn complex languages like Japanese or even take on a study at home online, there’s no need to go to university or even enroll in night programs to pick up a brand new language. Here are some other top resources for language learning in the 21st century that have some of the most efficient results for language learning:

  • Applications: applications like duolingo and more (Lingq, beelingua, Wanikani, Anki, Memrise) can provide people with daily study and an experience for language learning that plays more like a game.  These applications with the exception of Anki makes language learning seem like a game, and effectively use SRS to aid in memorization. Duolingo in particular remains one of the top grossing apps in the language market with a toppling 150 million users worldwide.


  • Take lessons over skype: Many native language speakers will actually provide private lessons in the comfort of your own home over skype. You can often find language learning specialists over skype and on a number of freelance platforms. Learning a language from a native speaker can often be better because you will have a better chance to learn correct pronunciation and how to speak much more naturally as compared to regimented classroom learning. Also don’t forget about the famous Italki.


  • Immersion: Learning a language by immersing yourself in it can often be one of the best ways to pick it up and further your language studies. Even if you can’t afford a one-way ticket to going live in a country where your language is spoken, you can perform immersion tasks every day by watching some of your favorite films in a language you are targeting to learn or listening to music in that language. With free video hosting platforms like YouTube you can find a wealth of content in almost any language that you can immerse yourself in or check out some foreign films and foreign music on Spotify and Netflix!


Keep some of these top ideas in mind for learning a language in the 21st century.

Wells, Jonathan. “How to Learn a Language in Super-Fast Time.” The Telegraph, Telegraph Media Group, 9 May 2017, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/how-to-learn-a-language-in-super-fast-time/.

Make Your Brain Sweat: Pushing Your Language Learning Limits

Learn why it’s important to push yourself to your language learning limits and practice intensively if you want to become fluent more quickly.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.iwillteachyoualanguage.com

Language is more laboring than we think it is.

5 Fascinating TED Talks About Language Learning That’ll Light a Fire Under You | FluentU Language Learning Blog

Need some fresh ideas to stay on your language learning A game? Watch these 5 TED Talks from language experts for motivation and practical tips.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: www.fluentu.com

The gurus speak about the reality of language learning! All hail the ted Gods!

10 Fast Track Japanese Phrases On Your Way To Fluency

10 Japanese Phrases That Will Make You Sound Like A Native

When you want to become fluent in Japanese, you need to master phrases that make you sound natural, and you should learn how to ask for explanations of the world around you. Once you have the ability to ask questions and build your vocabulary, your confidence will grow.

Blossom! PhotoCreds: Kiandro Scavella

When you’re nervous, it’s because you’re afraid of making a mistake or sounding dumb. But remember! Almost always, Japanese people are going to be excited to speak Japanese with you, even if you make mistakes. You may feel like a baby because there are so many things you can’t understand. But it’s important to smile and have fun when you make mistakes, and your partner will hopefully find a graceful way to correct you.

Now get out there to your nearest Japanese restaurant and gambarimashou! (Let’s try hard!)

  1. I’m sorry, please say it again. Please speak more slowly.

Sumimasen ga, mou icihido itte kudasai. Motto yukkuri hanashite kudasaiすみませんが、もう一度言ってください。 もっとゆっくり話して下さい。Practice this a lot. I promise it will come in handy.

  1. How do you say this in Japanese?

Kore wa Nihongo de, nan to iimasu ka?これは日本語で、何と言いますか?This is one of the most useful phrases you can learn. It’s the key to becoming a fluent master in time.You can replace “kore” with the word in English if your friend will understand.

  1. How do you write it in Chinese characters?

Dono you ni Kanji de Kakimasu ka?どのように漢字で書きますか?As soon as you learn any new Japanese word or phrase, ask your friend how it’s written in kanji. Write the phrase 10 times in your study book.The next time you say that phrase, try to imagine how it’s written while you speak. Once you get into the habit of writing everything down until it sticks, you will be learning 10 or more characters per day!

  1. I understand (thanks to your explanation.)

Naru hodo!なるほどWhen your Japanese friend is done explaining, you can say “naru hodo” to indicate that you understand thanks to their help. It’s a bit more natural sounding than “wakarimashita.”

  1. If you want to become proficient in Japanese, you must study.

Nihongo ga jouzu ni naritai nara, benkyou shinakereba ikemasen.日本語が上手になりたいなら、勉強しなければいけません。In Japanese, when you’re saying, “You must X” you’re literally saying, “if x does not happen, things will be bad.”Look at the example sentence. You can use the basic form “X shinakereba ikemasen” with any verb that makes sense.You must do laundry. Sentaku o shinakereba ikemasen.Try making your own sentence!

  1. You always thank the chef after a meal, right? You probably know how to say thank you….

But if you say “arigatou gozaimasu” after a delicious Japanese meal, it’s going to sound weird.Instead, you say “Gochisousama deshita!” ごちそうさまでしたIt’s also polite to leave a small bite on your plate, to show that the chef gave you enough food. Japanese custom is to keep filling your glass and dishes until you stop drinking/eating.Some romantic phrases….Maybe you want to ask that cute Japanese girl out on a date. She would be even more impressed if you ask her in her native language. Here are a few phrases that will help you break the ice. This is an informal situation, don’t say these phrases to your boss!

  1. Anata ni deatta toki kara, kokoro ga doki doki shita

あなたに出会った時から、心がドキドキしているFrom the first time I met you, my heart has been beating like crazy.

  1. Issho ni asobi ni ikou!

一緒に遊びに行こうLet’s go on a date together! (Literally: Let’s go out playing together)If you’re ready to make the move, just go ahead and ask her out. It will probably be extremely forward, but maybe she’ll find that charming.

  1. Tsuyoku dakishimetai.

強く抱きしめたいI really want to hold you in my arms. This is a really romantic sounding phrase. If she likes you at all, this will certainly make her heart melt.

  1. Keitai bangou oshiete moraemasu ka?

ケイタイ番号をおしえてもらえますか?What’s your cell number?They say the best way to learn Japanese is on the pillow. If you managed to break the ice with your Nihongo skills, try asking for your new friend’s number.If you’re struggling to find the motivation to study Japanese, think about what your goals are for learning the language. Do you want to be able to understand anime? Or do you want to make Japanese friends in preparation for visiting Japan? Be clear about your goals and it will naturally motivate you to study a little bit every day.