I have defined some of the words (underlined) in the blog post, which you can add to your Personal Dictionary. Click on the Excel icon to download the word list to your PC or mobile device, which you can thereafter import into your Personal Dictionary. They are also listed below.
Scroll down to the bottom for links to a crossword and word search using words from this post.

Plateauing – To reach a level and remain at that level without making any further progress or improvement

Phenomenon – A remarkable or unusual occurrence, fact, or circumstance

Acquire – To gain or obtain something, especially through one’s own effort or merit

Inadequacy – The state of being insufficient or lacking in quality or quantity

Minutiae – Small or minor details or aspects of something

Symptom – A sign or indication of the presence of something, especially a medical condition

Reinvigorate – To give new energy, strength, or enthusiasm to something

Adequately – Sufficiently or to an acceptable degree

Promotion – The act of advancing or encouraging the growth or development of something

Blend – To mix or combine different elements or ingredients to create a new, single product or mixture

Commit – To pledge or bind oneself to a certain course of action or decision

Immerse – To fully engage in or become involved in an activity or situation, often to the exclusion of other considerations

One thing that all learners will have at times is plateauing, which is the phenomenon experienced by students, who despite continued practice, are unable to make perceptible improvement. Learners fail to acquire more higher-level vocabulary and phrases, which leads to a feeling of inadequacy.

It is generally accepted that English is an easy language to begin with, and most learners reach an intermediate level with relative ease but find that their progress gets tougher as they get into the minutiae of the terminology. The main symptoms are the feeling learners have of not being able to learn new words or being able to fully grasp more difficult grammatical or linguistic concepts.

There are several reasons for plateauing. Firstly, the learner may have become bored by the teaching methods used by his or her tutor. Being a teacher, who has also been a student, I’m fully aware that some teachers are better at recognising the ‘plateau effect’ and are able to put measures in place to reinvigorate their students. However, it could be the reason is, that the students have reached a level they feel comfortable with. They can converse adequately at work and on holiday, so see no reason to learn more. Quite simply, keeping the level they presently have is enough for them. I would estimate that this is the case for most of my students. The weekly meetings are an opportunity to practise speaking and perhaps writing, and if the odd new word is learnt, all the better.

But for those of you, who recognise that you are currently in a plateauing phase and want to rise above it, here are some tips you can try.

1. Reassess your reason for learning

As I mentioned above, if you don’t have a super-important reason to improve yourself in a language, your motivation level is sure to dip. Would it improve your chances of getting promotion at your company, if you had a language certificate? If so, perhaps enrol in a course, or speak to your teacher about doing an official examination, such as IELTS, or BEC Vantage/Higher etc.

2. Increase your discipline

Motivation is not enough to achieve our goals. We need to remember disciplined too. Try to set aside time in your schedule each week, to learn English with a teacher or on your own. A blend of both is perfect. By putting the time in your calendar, you are effectively committing yourself to learning. Remember: learning 15 minutes every day is better than 90 minutes once a week.

3. Change things up

Perhaps some of the activities you are currently using are not challenging you enough. Try to incorporate listening to podcasts, reading English books/magazines/newspapers and watching films and/or series, into your daily routine. Doing puzzles, crosswords and quizzes are very effective ways to refresh previously known vocabulary. 

4. Keep a journal of your progress

Writing your progress down is a great way for you to focus on your efforts. Set yourself goals to learn new vocabulary or phrases and stick to them.

5. Immerse yourself in English

If you are fortunate enough that you can work with native English speakers or have English speaking friends, perhaps even in a country where English is the native language, you’ll benefit from learning authentic English.

Even if that is not possible, by doing some of the activities I listed above on a daily basis, will give you the feeling that you are immersed in English.


To test your knowledge, why not do a crossword puzzle, using words from this text?

Click here for instructions on how to play.

To test your knowledge, why not do a word search puzzle, using words from this text?

Click here for instructions on how to play.

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