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Monday, September 25, 2023

The Plateau Effect in Learning Languages: What to Fo if You’re Stuck

Learning a language is a real challenge that can be difficult to cope with. Sometimes after you’ve come a long way, you realize that you’re stomping around in one place and can’t improve your progress. This phenomenon is called the plateau effect, and it’s normal for any activity from playing online blackjack to education. Not only students face it, but also those who are losing weight. One day there comes a moment when, despite hard workouts and dieting, the arrow of the scale doesn’t move.

For those who study languages, this happens at a fairly high level of proficiency. The student can read texts without problems, understand speech and talk about everyday matters, watch movies and listen to music. The intermediate level is more than enough for travel, but for business communication is only a necessary minimum. If you need to move on, the following tips will be a great help to overcome the plateau.

Find the Reason for Stagnation

Often, monotony makes you feel like the level you’ve reached is the ceiling in language learning. For the same reason, previously learned words and constructions are forgotten. To overcome this barrier, you need to try to find new ways to practice. For example, if communication in class seems useless, you need to start combining it with something else, like watching movies or reading fiction.

Patience and Work

When learning a language, you should pull yourself together and fight laziness. People tend to put off the most unpleasant part of studying for later, but in this situation, it’s important to pay increased attention to it. Perhaps the plateau effect occurred due to missing topics that turned out to be very important.

The Right Approach to Language Learning

For the most effective learning, you should take into account your needs and interests, combining them with the necessary material. Before you start the lesson, choose an interesting book or movie that will have the words you need at the moment. Having written everything down in the dictionary, you can move on to watching or reading with knowledge. In this way, you can more easily consolidate the material you have learned. Another important point in this approach is the knowledge that it’s impossible to learn everything in one sitting. You learn some topics quickly, and some you don’t understand for several lessons. To avoid burnout, manage your time and energy wisely.

Setting a Goal

If the goal is a broad vocabulary, you can write out 10-40 words before you start class and replenish the vocabulary while watching the movie with subtitles. This can be boring even when the learning process is easy, not to mention plateauing, but the results are worth it. Pretty soon the effort will pay off, and watching will turn from a hard, drawn-out process into a pleasure. When the vocabulary becomes large enough, you can give up subtitles and enjoy movies and shows in the original language.


Every small step in mastering languages is a cause for joy. Rewarding yourself with something nice for the merit, the student gets a burst of motivation to keep moving forward. And it’s the lack of motivation that leads to a plateau effect, which is so important to get rid of.

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