— [https://goo.gl/f98cko] Reasons why_______________________you’re still an intermediate level language learner.



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Luke Thompson is an English Language teacher from London but now he teaches English at a university in Paris, while working on other projects including Luke’s English Podcast. He started Luke’s English Podcast in 2009. He is also a stand-up comedian, which means that he likes to stand up in front of audiences of people, and make them laugh.

He has experience of teaching courses in business English, academic English, legal English, general English and English for exam courses like FCE, IELTS and BEC.

He graduated from Liverpool John Moore’s University in 1999 with a BA Hons degree in Media and Cultural Studies. He worked at various media production companies before going into English language teaching. He took his CELTA in 2001 and then his Higher Diploma in English Language Teaching to Adults (DELTA) in 2006 at UCL.

He writes a lot of ELT materials, and he develops a lot of courses in business English and EAP. He has written original courses for English for the Pharmaceutical Industry, English for the Oil and Gas Industries and English for Journalists, as well as communication skills workshops in presentations, meetings and negotiations. He is a semi-published author with some of his work being used in materials publications in several countries.


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MP3 — In the episode: Finding it hard to make progress beyond an intermediate level? What is the intermediate plateau? Why does that happen and how can you get out of it? Generally, how do you keep making progress with your English? ::




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  1. This episode is about ways you can push your English to higher levels even if you feel that your progress is stuck or moving very slowly. This is a very common phenomenon in English learning called the intermediate plateau. It usually happens at an intermediate level.

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  2. 3 Reasons why you’re still an intermediate level language learner:

    https://goo.gl/4l2EOc

    1) Most learners fail to set clear goals and develop healthy habits early on
    2) Most learners expect their progress to be linear, while in fact any skill development has diminishing marginal returns
    3) Most learners quickly reach a comfort zone in which they have trouble getting out of

    Most learners fail to set clear goals and develop healthy habits

    Here are three quick questions for you:

    1) Have you set goals regarding your language learning?
    2) Have you written them down?
    3) Do you have a plan to accomplish them?

    If you’ve answered “no” to two or more of these questions, you need to grab a pen and a paper and get to work, now. According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. Having goals helps you to track your progress and gives you a sense of direction, which in turns help to increase motivation and reduces your chances of giving up. Research recently conducted by Psychology professor Dr. Gail Matthews shows that people who wrote down their goals, shared this information with a friend, and sent weekly updates to that friend were on average 33% more successful in accomplishing their stated goals than those who merely formulated goals. Another study undergone by Edwin A. Locke, a scientist at the University of Maryland concludes that “Goal-setting effects are quite robust, typically yielding a success rate of 90%, even including studies that made methodological and/or theoretical errors.”

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  3. Most learners expect their progress to be linear.

    https://goo.gl/4l2EOc

    The improvement of skills works on a so-called “logarithmic scale” as opposed to linear, to put it in fancy terms. What this means is that as you get better, it gets harder and harder to improve. Elite athletes, for example, expend enormous effort to shave seconds off their best times, whereas novice athletes can shave minutes with just a little practice. The same goes for language learning: at the beginning you make quick improvements, since you’re essentially starting from a blank slate. But as you progress, you see diminishing returns proportional to the amount of time and effort that you put in. That’s a totally normal phenomenon, the key is simply to be prepared for it.

    As productivity author Scott Young says, “Assuming straight-line growth means overconfidence in long-term progress. As a result, it is easy to hit plateaus if the difficulty isn’t deliberately tuned to break your comfortable rhythm.” More importantly, Scott adds:

    "In logarithmic domains, two mindsets are important. In the beginning, high-growth phase, the emphasis needs to be on maintaining long-term habits. Since growth is fast initially, care needs to be taken so that it won’t slide back down once effort is removed. In the later, low-growth phase, the emphasis needs to be on habit breaking. Since low-growth is often caused by calcifying routines, deliberate effort needs to be taken to break out of that comfort zone."

    However, there’s a plus side to reaching an intermediate stage in any given language, which shouldn’t be forgotten: once you have cleared the first hurdles of starting literally from scratch, learning becomes easier and so your enjoyment of the language and your mental stamina increase. We can spend much more time on real content, and that time is not restricted to language learning material anymore. We can talk with friends, watch TV and movies, read books. We are not deliberately spending time with the language anymore– we are using and enjoying it. We can spend countless, precious hours with the language. Let me tell you a little personal story: I’ve been learning Catalan for several months now, and at first, even though progress was a lot quicker, it was fairly hard at times to keep my motivation high because I had to go through a lot of language learning material rather than “real content.” But as I got to an intermediate stage, I really started enjoying a lot of material that any other native speaker would enjoy: watching movies and TV series, reading simple books, understanding the lyrics of songs, etc. It felt like I was no longer “studying”, but rather truly embracing and enjoying the language. Even though progress was a lot slower, it almost didn’t matter, because I wasn’t into the game to reach some kind of destination, but rather to enjoy the journey. Before this post gets too long, let’s turn our attention to the “low-growth” phase that swe were talking about a bit earlier, and why most of us fail to pierce through that barrier and instead choose to rest on our laurels by dabbling aimlessly in one or more foreign languages.

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  4. Most learners quickly reach a comfort zone.

    https://goo.gl/4l2EOc

    Is your goal in life to be great, or is it to avoid discomfort? If we didn’t have to work hard to reach success, we wouldn’t appreciate it. Hard is what makes it great. Yet, in the back of our minds, somehow we all want to have it easy. We want to go through the smooth, paved, straight road to success, rather than the unbeaten bush. Let me tell you one thing: the straight, paved road doesn’t exist. Most people reach their “comfort zone” because they start telling themselves that their level is good enough. My career is “good enough.” My level of health is “good enough.” My Spanish is “good enough.” This phase is also sometimes called the “autonomous stage,” when we figure that we’ve gotten as good as we need to get (which doesn’t mean anything if you haven’t set yourself some clear goals in the first place) at the task and we’re basically running on autopilot. During that autonomous stage, we lose conscious control over what we’re doing.

    But what separates experts from the rest of us is that they focus on their technique, stay goal-oriented, and get constant and immediate feedback on their performance. Remember that when you want to get good at something, how you spend your time practicing is far more important than the amount of time you spend. In fact, in every domain of expertise that’s been rigorously examined, from chess to violin to basketball, studies have found that the number of years one has been doing something correlates only weakly with level of performance. Constant feedback is also crucial in order to rapidly push through a plateau, for example. Getting feedback is also helpful for learning what you’re doing right, which can give you a boost of confidence and help you realize that you are in fact making progress.. This serves to reinforce a positive mental attitude and helps keep you motivated. Don’t get stuck in the trap of ‘good enough’. There is no such thing as good enough, or even not enough. All that matters is how much you are doing.

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