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Learning plateau

March 23, 2006

What can we do to help students who feel stuck on a learning plateau?

Hello again,

Language learning seldom moves ahead at an even pace. Learners face spurts and slow-downs in their perceived progress. Intermediate students often feel they are stuck and are not making significant progress. This is partly because, in the early stages of learning, they can see a clear course ahead and can mark off the hurdles as they successfully tackle them. By intermediate stage, a lot of the learning process involves consolidation and extension of existing knowledge so it is harder to see what has to be achieved and to recognize when the achievement has been successful . . .

. . . I suggest that at the start of the program, teachers should explain the typical learning curve for language acquisition. At first it is steep but then levels out. Help the students to understand that in the intermediate phase, they are deepening their knowledge and gaining confidence. As part of this process, they are also becoming much more autonomous as language users: more capable of using the language in individual ways.

It is also helpful for students to set individual targets to help them measure what they have achieved. There are many ways of doing this. A pre-programme test might show them the gaps in and weaknesses in their knowledge, or the teacher might have a list of learning targets that each student could select from. This is all part of learner training in which students are helped to understand how learning takes place and how they can take charge of it.

Don't forget to me know your tips for helping students over a learning plateau.

Bye for now,


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  1. JiggaDigga Says:

    Great reading, keep up the great posts.
    Peace, JiggaDigga

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