How to Overcome the Plateau Effect when Learning English (AJ #11)

Ask Jack Episode 11

(Note: If you want to reach a high level of English, click here.)

Welcome to the first episode of Ask Jack. This is where I answer YOUR questions about learning English and the English language.

As I mention in the video, to make this work I need YOUR questions. So click here to ask me a question.

In today’s episode, I discuss the best English accents to learn, how to know when you’re making mistakes when speaking, and how to learn the different vowel sounds in English.

Below the video, there is a transcript from this episode, and a summary of the answers.

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Hello. This is Jack from and welcome to Episode 11 of Ask Jack, the free series where I answer your questions about learning English and the English language. So, we have a really interesting question for today. So, here it is…
Ildar from Russia asks: “How can we overcome the plateau effect?”

Thank you for this great question Ildar. So, the plateau effect is where you feel like you’re not making any progress, that you’ve been at the same level for a long time and this usually affects intermediate speakers, those English learners who have taken lessons in language schools, learned English in school and they feel since that time or for a few months now that they’ve had the same level of English. Now, this is also known as the intermediate barrier and obviously what To Fluency is about is helping you overcome this barrier and getting on the road to fluency.

Before I talk about how you can overcome this, it’s important to know that sometimes it’s very difficult to notice our progress because learning English is all about doing lots of little things and it’s about learning how to use one word, how to use this type of grammar, learning, you know, how to pronounce this correctly. So, there are many tiny little things that make up the way we speak English. So therefore, it might feel like you’re not making progress but maybe you are.
Having said that, most learners aren’t doing the right things or they’re not doing the most effective things to help them reach that higher level. For example, it’s much more effective to take a one-to-one lesson with someone rather than sitting in a lesson with 20 other students talking about grammar. It’s also more effective to learn new words and phrases through sentences. Now, most learners try to learn single words and they try to learn grammar rules. But, using a method such as the sentence method is much more effective.

So, there are many things that we can do to change the way that we learn and if you do feel like you’re stuck, like you’re still an intermediate learner, then know you can make many changes to the way you learn in order to make faster progress. Another reason why you might be stuck at an intermediate level is because you don’t do enough in English. So, I know learners who take 1 or 2 lessons a week, then they’ll do a little bit of homework and then that’s it and they wonder, “Why am I not making progress?” You know, “Why am I stuck at this level?”

But, to reach a higher level, it takes a lot of work. Now, this doesn’t mean that you have to study, study, study but it just means that you have to do more in English and I’ve talked about this many times in videos before and giving you ways that you could do more in English even if you’re busy, even if you have lots of things going on. So, just know that you probably need to do more in addition to changing the way you learn.

One more reason why you might still be an intermediate learner and feel like you’re not progressing fast enough is because you’re not enjoying the process. You’re not enjoying the journey because when you sometimes set high goals and you think about learning English to a higher level, it can be quite stressful because you compare the level you have now to the level you want to have and this stress can be overwhelming and it can make you stop learning English.
I’ve talked about cycles of learning before where learners will take 3 months and work really hard but then take another 3 months and do nothing. So, try to enjoy the journey as much as possible. Make it fun. Make it interesting to you because not only will this help you do more in English but it also opens yourself up to the language. Because when we don’t have the stress, when we are relaxed, it helps us acquire new language.

Finally, learning English is not just about having the right methods and resources that you need. It’s also about changing as a person because for most of us, it’s a difficult thing to do. Learning a language is not an easy task and we might need to make some changes for ourselves in order to achieve this goal and that is why I wrote the book ‘The 5-Step Plan for English Fluency’. Now, this is a free download and you can click the button now to get this download, where you’re going to learn the different stages of reaching a higher level. So, I go through the 5 stages to help you reach the level you want to reach. Now, there is the option to purchase the audio book and other resources but the book itself is free. So, why not download that now.

My question for this video is this. What have you done to overcome the plateau effect and if you haven’t done anything yet, what is the next thing you are going to do? What is the next thing you are going to do to help you overcome this? Leave your answers below this video. Thanks for watching and I’ll see you next time.

How can I overcome the plateau effect?

The plateau effect – or the intermediate barrier – is where you feel stuck.

It’s when you feel like you haven’t really made any progress over the past year(s).

Firstly, it’s important to know that it’s sometimes difficult to notice our progress. Because learning English is all about learning lots of little things. It may feel like you’re not making progress, but maybe you are.

Having said that, most learners aren’t efficient with their time.

For example, you’ll make much faster progress if you learn new words through sentences rather than learning single words – check out this introduction to The Sentence Method.

Additionally, you might need to do more in English. Saying that you’re too busy is an excuse. Just taking 1-2 lessons per week isn’t enough. You need to make it fun and relevant to you.

You might also need to change as a person too. That is what I teach here at To Fluency.

What to Do Now:

1. Answer the question below: What accent do you want to learn/have?
 If you haven’t done so already, download your FREE Guide, and sign up to receive English learning advice from me. Get reading!
3. Click here to ask me a question about learning English.

Thanks for watching/reading!

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  • Learning English is like eating pizzas . Don’t put too many toppings all at one time . Eat well , learn well .