The Plateau Of Language

There is a place you get to when learning a language where you feel like you aren’t learning anymore. 

It’s not the typical brick wall you get when your brain stops absorbing information and you don’t seem to understand anything. 

It’s not a place of pain. It’s a place of frustration. Deep frustration. 

This is when you arrive at a place during your language journey, in my case, learning Mandarin Chinese, where your don’t feel like you are learning anything new. 

Plateaus come and go, but luckily it can be overcome with a few straightforward actions. 

I have hit plateaus on numerous occasions learning Chinese. I understood how to ask for a bag and a pen, or request a receipt in a shop, order a drink or food. Then suddenly, it stopped. I couldn’t learn anymore. A week or so passed as I struggled to take new things in. 

This is where the frustration kicks in. And it’s a vicious circle. Not being able to take new information in because you think you cannot take new information in. 

It’s all down to mindset, you can easily conquer plateaus if you change your state. Change your frame of mind. Go and do something relaxing, something you enjoy. A nice long swim. Go to the beach. Get engrossed in a game. Don’t even look at Mandarin for a couple of days. Free your mind. 

What can I do? 

Then make a plan. Step by step. Piece by piece. Ask yourself these questions -: 

Why am I learning Mandarin?

What do I want to achieve? 

What am I least familiar with with Chinese? 

What am I weakest at? 

What can I do to improve my weaknesses? 

Once you have the answers to those questions, you are heading for a fresh start. The answer is not to get overwhelmed by the language. Instead break it up into manageable pieces and deal with them one by one.

What do you mean?

So for example, let’s say Mandarin tones are your biggest weakness. You have been caught out a few times when speaking to your language exchange partner and you thought you had it right but you didn’t. 

So, you now need to practice tones. Put that on the list of things to do during your day. Spend 30 minutes each day, just practicing basic Mandarin tones in your room. 

Start from scratch again and perfect your sound. Try it out on your friends. 

What else? 

Maybe you are struggling with ordering food and forget a lot of the vocabulary. OK, so now is the time to refresh your memory. Grab a list of Chinese food vocabulary and repeat out-loud while in the shower and while cooking food. While out on your run. 

Point is, change your learning routine and you will break through it. 

Irenes Journey

We recently filming, recorded and podcast episode with a guest. Irene. She is from Taiwan and is currently experiencing a plateau not only in her language, but also in life. 

Video/podcast is below. 

However you get out of your plateau, remember you always will, and don’t lose sight of the ultimate fluency goal!

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