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How to Break Through Intermediate Language Learning Stagnation

Here’s how it might go.

You stop learning a new language as quickly as you used to. You don’t make any significant advancements. Instead, you begin noticing difficulties in expressing more complex ideas or expanding your vocabulary. As a result, you feel stuck, discouraged, frustrated, and bored.

This combo of symptoms may mean you hit the intermediate language learning plateau.

But hey—not to worry; keep your chin up!

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Language learning plateaus aren’t that dreadful. You’ll see it yourself when discovering everything about them. By the end of this article, you’ll also have a checklist to get off your intermediate plateau and reach an advanced level in your target language.

What Is an Intermediate Plateau in Language Learning?

The first thing you should know:

There’s nothing wrong with you, as the language learning plateau is a normal phase. It happens to everyone, although its duration and symptoms may vary from person to person.

Yet, it is one of the significant obstacles to effective language learning.

An intermediate language plateau is when you idle or stagnate in the intermediary stage and see little or no change after noticeable progress. It usually happens after the outburst of beginner’s enthusiasm and mind-blowing success, right at the foothill of the advanced level, somewhere between B and C levels. People often face the intermediate plateau of language learning when they reach the B1 or B2 level.

How can this condition be fought? What does it take a language learner to move from the B1/B2 level to the C1/C2 level?

Read below.

7 Best Practices to Deal with the Intermediate Language Plateau

Explore the best strategies and tips to stop plateauing, climb to the peak of your foreign language mountain, and finally achieve total fluency.

Review your motivations

What is your true aim and motivation behind mastering a new language?

According to Michael Donovan, co-founder of Nichetwins, “External and internal motivations are the most powerful drivers that get you out of the intermediate language learning plateau. Without them, you’re doomed to remain on the same level. And when you’re halfway to language mastery, it’s time to revisit them once again.”

Your intentions can be as follows:

  • To stick another feather in your cap and boost your self-esteem

  • To become richer culturally

  • To improve language skills for a career

  • To pass your language proficiency test, like IELTS for English or JLPT for Japanese

  • To live in another country

  • To travel without language barriers, etc.

Find yours to reconnect with your goals and renew your commitment to learning a language. Also, remind yourself that overcoming roadblocks is essential to driving progress.

Change your schedule and mode

Over time, the same schedule and mode of language learning can lead to a sense of stagnation and monotony. Under these circumstances, you must break the routine to stay productive and push yourself toward fluency.


Let’s audit your current schedule to develop a new language-learning curriculum.

So, take your day planner and look precisely at your study times, length, and frequency of language practice.

Suppose you used to practice only in the evenings. How about dividing these hours for the morning, afternoon, and evening study? You can also experiment with durations and vary the length of your studying sessions depending on your energy levels.


Grant Aldrich, Founder of Preppy, explains how it works. He says, “Changing the mode in learning a language involves new stimuli that activate different areas of your brain and revamp your learning experience. It would help overcome the language learning plateau if you switched from an offline to an online mode and vice versa.”

For example, if you used to take online courses, pick up several teach-yourself books, or organize one-on-ones with a tutor in the traditional classroom. Alternatively, switch dictionary types from an e-dictionary to a paper dictionary.

Find support from others

When you seem glued to the intermediate language plateau, one of the best ways to conquer it is by sharing your problem with others and coping with it together.

Whether you struggle with pronunciation, vocabulary, or grammar, follow this piece of advice from Albert Kim, VP of Talent at Checkr. He says, “You can seek understanding and encouragement from other language learners who likewise feel frustration, self-doubt, or disappointment. Just like you, they also realize that mastering a language has become more challenging and time-consuming than expected at this phase. You’re in the same boat—why not row to shore together?”

Albert Kim suggests several language learning communities and forums to receive support and exchange ideas and strategies:

  • Polyglot Club (a language exchange social network)

  • Language Café (a Discord community)

  • The Language Learning Nerds (a private Facebook Group for language learners on social media)

  • (a language forum)

  • r/languagelearning/ (a Reddit community)


Let’s say you’ve reached the plateau in learning Japanese. You could also join a niche subreddit on Reddit dedicated to it, like r/japanese/ or r/LearnJapanese.

Embrace a microlearning strategy

It’s always easier to eat bite-by-bite than swallow a whole lump.

That is why microlearning, aka bite-sized learning, is just the right strategy to offload the so-much-yet-to-learn burden when you feel plateaued.

Take it from Sergey Taver, Marketing Manager at Precision Watches. He notes, “The microlearning approach to a foreign language lets you better absorb and retain knowledge as you can focus on grasping one linguistic concept at a time without feeling overwhelmed. Its main principle lies in “chopping” your materials into smaller, more snackable chunks and micro-lessons or searching for ready-made ones.”

The most commonly used materials for language microlearning are:

  • Quizzes

  • Games

  • Fill-in-the-blank challenges

  • Vocabulary flashcards and stickers

  • Micro-videos (up to five minutes)

  • Short articles

  • Speaking prompts, etc.

Don’t forget to reward your efforts after each small task to stay motivated to learn a language.

Take time to recharge

Practicing a language through intensive learning causes you to burn out very quickly. This prevents you from leaving the intermediate language learning plateau because you don’t have enough power to do that.

“When learning new languages, our energy pools drain fast and require a regular refill. What can be better than a short road trip or a camping retreat to change the environment and refresh? Of course, it depends on your preferences: your rest—your rules,” remarks Pierce Hogan, Owner of VariedLands.

You should also prioritize self-care activities during the day: power naps, physical exercises, brain-healthy foods, etc. They will help you relax, destress, and replenish your energy levels. Take care of your physical and mental wellness to maintain motivation and good mood even when plateauing.

For example, Joshua from Spanish Blueprints shares that he sacrificed sleep when learning Spanish and eventually burned out. He broke through his intermediate language plateau by dropping this lousy habit and taking more rest.


But what if you don’t want to make a complete stop or don’t have time for it?

At this rate, there’s an excellent method: passive, non-intrusive learning. Let’s assume your target language is French. You can watch your favorite movie or TV show in French. You can also turn on a French radio station and let the French music play in the background while you’re having a walk.

Push yourself out of your comfort zone

“Leaving your cozy comfort zone may be painful and unpleasant at first, but it’s worth it, and it helps break through a language learning plateau. Especially when you challenge yourself with extraordinary language tasks slightly above your current level,” notes Tim White, Founder of Milepro.

What are those, you ask?

Tim White has a couple of ideas to share:

  • Immerse in authentic contexts while traveling

  • Organize virtual meetups with native speakers

  • Enroll in language workshops or camps

  • Set X-day challenges to memorize new vocabulary units, grammar, or sentence structures

  • Find language exchange partners (via Tandem, The Mixxer, or MyLanguageExchange)

If you want to practice speaking with a conversation partner, it’s also possible to discover one in your online community. For example, here’s how a Reddit user searches for a Hebrew language partner in the r/LearnHebrew subreddit.


You may prepare and tackle even more challenging tasks to literally step out of your comfort zone. For instance, consider joining a cultural homestay immersion program to learn a language abroad through full inclusion into a socio-linguistic landscape.

Try alternative resources

Different language resource hubs typically offer diverse materials and approaches and cater to individual learning styles. You can discover innovative techniques that resonate with you more and rekindle your motivation to advance in a foreign language.

There’s a wide variety of language-learning resources for any taste:

  • Audiobooks

  • Podcasts or videocasts

  • Online platforms (Udemy, Coursera, edX)

  • TED talks

  • YouTube

  • Websites (FluentU, italki, LingQ)

  • Language learning apps and software (LinguaLift, Duolingo, Babbel)

For example, you can find numerous YouTube channels for language learners, like @EverydayChinese for Mandarin Chinese or @ButterflySpanish for Spanish.

In fact, 37% of people prefer apps to learn languages over books, courses, or media. Phil Strazzulla, Founder of Selectsoftwarereviews, advises language learners on how to approach them. He says, “When choosing a language learning app or software, make sure it can pick you up from the intermediate level and transfer you right to the advanced one rather than keep you plateauing and stagnating. Also, compare the features and functionality of different apps. For example, your top priority may be mobile-friendliness for faster access to language materials and higher convenience.”

Psst… LinguaLift has a user-friendly Android version. Using it, you can advance in a foreign language simply by logging in on your smartphone and continuing where you left off.

Let LinguaLift Raise You Above the Intermediate Plateau

Go beyond your intermediate language plateau and rapidly boost your skills with LinguaLift’s software. It can be an amazing tool for overcoming this quicksand-like experience.

Besides, LinguaLift’s tutors are always ready to help you during your language journey. Never hesitate to ask.

Start your free lesson at LinguaLift and keep moving forward!

Try a free lesson with Lingualift today!

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