Feeling blocked in English is the #1 problem of adult learners. Here’s the solution.

By 24 August 2021 Non classé 2 Comments

I wonder if any of these have ever happened to you:

  • You feel stuck.  You work on your English, but somehow, you don’t seem to be progressing anymore.
  • If you need English for work, you feel stressed out, afraid that you’re going to make a mistake, or just feel awkward.
  • You might avoid certain things at work because you’re worried about your English.  For example, answering the phone, writing emails, engaging in small talk…or asking for a new position.
  • You realize that your English is stopping you from doing things, important things. But you don’t know how to fix it.

If so, it probably feels a little scary and frustrating.

How do I know? Because I’ve felt that way before.  It happened when I moved to France and suddenly needed to use my French in a professional setting.

And I was stuck at intermediate.
In fact, I know that it can feel so frustrating that you wonder if you can do anything about it.

But I have some really, really good news for you:

  • First of all, what you’re experiencing is normal. It’s called the intermediate plateau. And it happens to everyone who makes it far enough to reach an intermediate level in a language.
  • Second, you can move past intermediate–it just takes new strategies, smart and consistent work. And a new plan.

That’s great news.  Finding confidence in your Business English doesn’t require magic, or perfection. Or some hidden talent for languages. It means that you–yes you–can do it.

I did it. And a lot of people who I work with–smart, busy professionals who were stuck in their English have done it too.

Today we’ll talk about the intermediate plateau, why it happens and how to adjust your learning strategies so you can push beyond it.

I know how it feels and about all the opportunities you lose when your Business English isn’t where you need it to be.  I know, from experience, that new possibilities open up when you push your English past intermediate.

And I know you can do this. Let’s get started.


1. Better English = More opportunities: What is the intermediate plateau and why am I stuck here?
2. Better English = More opportunities: Two smart, new strategies to start today.
3. Better English = More opportunities:  How to add natural learning into your English routine.
4. Better English = More opportunities:  How to add deliberate learning into your English routine.

1. Better English = More opportunities: What is the intermediate plateau and why am I stuck here?

Feeling stuck at intermediate. Not progressing. Feeling like the English you’ve learned until this point isn’t enough for your professional situation.

All of that sounds, well, bad. It feels bad. But…it’s actually a good thing.
It means you’ve reached a certain level of English. You are close to reaching an advanced level of English.  Congratulations!

But it’s also frustrating.
Because when you reach this level, you don’t improve as quickly as you did before.

You’ve learned the most important lessons. And now, you’ve got to work on the details. It takes more effort to make a little progress.

And you can probably ‘get by’ with the English you have. You can say what you need to say–even if you spend a lot of time searching for your words. Even if you’re not feeling really comfortable, or if you’re feeling a little stressed out.

After all, your English is almost good enough.
And you’re worried that improving a bit more will be a lot of work.  Or you’re not sure how to move forward.

And so you keep on feeling a knot in your stomach when you answer the phone.

But here’s something I’ve learned–as someone who needed to push past intermediate in order for my career to grow in French:

Yes, it takes work to improve. Yes, it takes new strategies. But there is a cost to having ‘almost’ good enough English.

You miss out.
You miss opportunities.

  • Every time you aren’t quite sure how to connect with a client or business partner.
  • Every time you can’t quite motivate your team to take a new direction.
  • Every time you decide not to take on a new challenge–because you’re not sure your English is up to the task.

And, there is something I’ve learned as a Neurolanguage® Coach too:

All you have to do is use the right language learning strategies, and create a structured English habit for yourself.
Then you can make progress towards your English goals. And create opportunities for yourself with your new level of English.

It feels great when you start to see it’s working. And your motivation will return.

Ready to give it a try? I’ve got two types of language learning strategies you need to start using if you want to get past the intermediate plateau.

Let’s get started. No more missing out.

Also check out my lesson: SMART goals to advance in English.

2. Better English = More opportunities: Two smart, new strategies to start today.

Once you reach an intermediate level–and especially if you need to speak advanced English in a Business context–you need to use smart and effective strategies if you want to improve.

There are two kinds of language learning you need to make sure you add to your English routine.  Skip one or the other and you’re likely to feel stuck. I see a lot of clients do this before they join our programs.

They practice every day. But, the kind of practice they do isn’t complete. It’s not enough for someone at their level–and at their stage in their career.

Here’s how you can avoid that problem and start improving.

Make sure you know both of these kinds of language learning strategies and add them to your language ‘workout:’

  • Natural learning: “Absorbing” a language in a natural way, the way children do by immersing yourself. I often refer to this as “living in English.”
  • Deliberate learning: starting with a specific language learning goal in mind and studying, “doing” English in a way that helps you meet that goal.

If you want to improve your English at your level and have the kind of advanced English you need for business, you’ll need to have a balance of both kinds of learning strategies.

And there’s one more secret ingredient.

You probably noticed that you have a lot of choices when it comes to the kinds of materials you can decide to use. So pick topics and materials that are interesting to you. Pick books and podcasts that focus on your professional or personal interests.

You’ll learn faster that way because it’s enjoyable.
And what you learn will be relevant to your life.

So what are some examples of these kinds of learning strategies?

Keep reading to get my suggestions on how you can add natural and deliberate language learning to your own routine–in a way that is meaningful, relevant, and effective.

3. Better English = More opportunities:  How to add natural learning into your English routine.

What does natural language learning look like when you add it to your English practice?

  • listening to podcasts that you find interesting,
  • reading books or magazines in English for pleasure,
  • watching TV,
  • using English on social media,
  • or having a conversation in English.

Basically, you need to live your life as you usually would, but in English.

Natural learning activities I’ve collected for you, so you can progress towards advanced English:

  • Try a great podcast:  One I love is: Lewis Howes’ School of Greatness
  • Read books or magazines in English on topics you’re interested in. I read and loved: Wild. Can you think of any books you’d be interested in?
  • Watch TV shows that you like–in English!. One of my favorites is The Queen’s Gambit.
  • “Chat” in social media–using English (You could join my free Intermediate Plateau Challenge, on Facebook, LinkedIn, and/or YouTube)
  • Have great conversations in English with people you love being around. Don’t worry about being perfect or working on any specific goal. Just show up, talk, and have a good time.

These are just a few suggestions to inspire you. But what will make your language learning routine really effective is finding natural learning activities you truly enjoy.

Do you have a few ideas? Great! Now it’s time to think of some deliberate learning activities that will also help you get the level of English you need to start pursuing your professional goals.

Also check out my lesson: Christina’s Favorite Podcast for Advanced English.

4. Better English = More opportunities:  How to add deliberate learning into your English routine.

What does natural language learning look like when you add it to your English practice?

  • reading the transcript of a podcast and highlighting new vocabulary,
  • creating flashcards,
  • doing listening exercises, or grammar exercises,
  • or working with a teacher.

Deliberate learning means practicing some aspect of your English with a specific goal.

Once again, you can decide what you’ll do based on where you need to improve so that your learning is relevant to your life.

Here are some of my favorite deliberate learning activities:

I meet a number of students every year who haven’t been using deliberate learning strategies. It is incredible the kind of improvements you can make over a few weeks by simply adding one or two deliberate learning activities to your routine during the week.

I can’t wait to see how it goes for you.

Where will your English take you if you use smart and effective learning strategies?

I hope you’ll take a moment and think about these new learning strategies–or remind yourself if you’ve heard of them before.
Are they present in your learning habit? Could you add more balance? Is there a way to incorporate your interests into your language learning?

And more importantly. Now that you know that you can keep making progress in your English. Now that you know it’s doable–and not that difficult…

Can you start imagining some opportunities you might come across once you make some improvements in your English?

Can you imagine what would happen if you weren’t nervous about picking up the phone, or leading a conference call? Or if you knew you could help keep your team motivated–even in English?

Because if you use the right strategies and focus on the kind of English you need in your life–those things are possible.

What opportunities do you need to create for yourself?

Take the next step: Improve your English in the comments

The best way to become more confident using Business English is to practice!
Here’s your weekly challenge for this week:

  1. In the comments, tell us if you’re stuck on the intermediate plateau and how you feel about it.
  2. And tell us what you’d love to be able to do, now that you know you can keep improving your English.

If you learned something from this lesson, please share it with your coworkers & friends. You can send your message to them in English for more practice!

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Are you trying to get off the intermediate plateau?  Don’t miss out on the rest of the lessons in this virtual immersion.

Are you ready to try some new and smart English-learning strategies and finally go beyond intermediate?
I’m passionate about making and sharing new lessons to help you reach your Business English goals, so you can reach all your goals.

If you want to get all my future lessons, videos, virtual immersion challenges, plus my English Habit Starter Kit to make it feel easier to learn more each day, sign up here.

See you for the next step in this virtual immersion!



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