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BREAKING OUT OF THE INTERMEDIATE PLATEAU (1B2)

plateau      READING MY COLLEAGUE CRISTINA CABAL´S LATEST POST MADE ME THINK ABOUT MY OWN STUDENTS. MANY OF MY 1B2 STUDENTS THIS YEAR FEEL AS IF THEY´RE NOT MAKING ENOUGH PROGRESS, HAVING THE IMPRESSION THAT THEIR LANGUAGE LEARNING HAS SLOWED DOWN CONSIDERABLY  OR JUST FEELING THEY ARE STUCK IN THE “INTERMEDIATE PLATEAU”…(SENSACIÓN DE ESTANCAMIENTO),  BUT TO WHAT EXTENT IS THAT REAL?

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“As they move from basic to intermediate to advanced levels in language proficiency, many second-language learners will confirm that language learning does not always follow a smooth progression. There are times when progress seems to be marked and noticeable, as for example with many basic-level language learners. After their first 200 or so hours of instruction, they begin to break through the threshold of learning to become real users of the language, even if at a fairly simple level. Those who have experienced the transition to this level of learning recall the feelings of satisfaction and achievement that came as they found themselves actually capable of real communication in English.

However, once learners have arrived at an intermediate level of language learning, progress does not always appear to be so marked, and making the transition from intermediate to the upper-intermediate/advanced level sometimes proves frustrating. Some may feel they have arrived at a plateau and making further progress seems elusive, despite the amount of time and effort they devote to it.”

Let’s start with why this happens…

There are actually two reasons we might hit a plateau.

The first is that the better you get at a language the harder it is to continue improving. Take this statistic for example:

Just 3,000 English words are needed to understand 95% of everyday texts. Whereas the average native speaker has the ability to use up to 20,000 words.

That’s a pretty big disparity. What this means is that knowing 3,000 words will put you in the intermediate range of language learning, but it takes a lot more effort and a lot more words to become an advanced speaker.

The second reason is that whether you’re learning a new language, practicing a sport, or learning how to type on a keyboard—it’s not only the amount of practice that you’re putting in, but the type of practice.

When we first start to learn a language we progress very quickly, from barely knowing how to introduce ourselves to making complicated sentences in the past and future tenses. We reach an autonomous stage.

The autonomous stage occurs when we no longer have to consciously think about what we’re doing. In language learning, this might be the stage when you can have a conversation without pausing to find the right word or the proper grammatical structure.

Reaching the autonomous stage, however, does not mean that you’re now an expert. In fact, this is the stage where it’s easy to see your language learning falter, because you’re no longer being challenged to learn more.

So what can we do…

Now that we know why we run into these plateaus, let’s look at some ways we can move past them.

The first way is to simply change the way you think about learning a language. It’s important to understand that improving as a new learner is very different from improving as an intermediate learner. There are always going to be diminishing returns as you get better at a language. This doesn’t mean you’re not progressing.

It’s easy to feel like you’re making progress when you master all the tenses of “to be,” but it’s important to keep in mind that learning less common vocabulary and more complex grammar is just as important to becoming fluent.

Best of all, once you have an intermediate or upper-intermediate language level, learning becomes a lot more fun. You can have real world conversations, watch movies and enjoy more engaging books.

The second way to improve is to focus on how you practice. Since it’s easy to become a passive learner at this stage, you have to force yourself out of your comfort zone. Try talking about topics you’re not 100% comfortable with, read texts that challenge you, look up words you don’t know even if they’re obscure, and talk to native speakers at a natural pace.

Just like when you were a beginner: Keep studying, keep pushing yourself, and if you haven’t already, find a teacher who can keep you accountable to your language learning goals!

How can I climb higher?

Here are my top tips for escaping from the intermediate plateau.  They’re not rocket science, just basic advice gleaned from my teaching experience.

1)  Don’t give up!

2)  Keep expanding your vocabulary.

This means reading a lot and learning how words collocate (go together in semi-fixed expressions).  Doing this also helps with your grammar.

3) Excavate your ‘fossilised errors’!

You know those little mistakes that you make over and over again?  You probably have a collection of ‘You said… You should have said…’ error correction slips.  Make sure you understand why your errors are wrong and make a concerted effort to change!

4)  Immerse yourself in the language.  Do something in English every day.

5)  Pursue your interests in English!  If you’re into philosophy read philosophical works in English.  This will keep you motivated.

That’s all for now, I’d love to hear your tales of clambering off the intermediate plateau.

https://es.verbling.com/articles/Jon/the-intermediate-plateau-and-how-to-get-over-it-552ee4b35afee0982a1a82ff

IT MIGHT BE INTERESTING TO READ CRISTINA´S POST…BY CLICKING ON HER PICTUREplateau

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ANTONIO BANDERAS TEACHING SPANISH SLANG (1B2)

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“FINDING YOUR FEET” A NEW BRITISH COMEDY RELEASE (B2) (C1) (C2)

“FIND YOUR FEET”  (TRANSLATED INTO SPANISH LIKE “BAILANDO LA VIDA” ) IS A NEW BRITISH COMEDY RELEASE FOR THIS WEEKEND TRYING TO SHOW THAT THERE IS LIFE AFTER RETIREMENT…..

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When ‘Lady’ Sandra Abbott (Academy Award nominee Imelda Staunton, Maleficent, Vera Drake) discovers that her husband of forty years (John Sessions) is having an affair with her best friend (Josie Lawrence) she seeks refuge in London with her estranged, older sister Bif (Celia Imrie, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Bridget Jones’ Baby). The two could not be more different – Sandra is a fish out of the water next to her outspoken, serial dating, free-spirited sibling. But different is just what Sandra needs at the moment, and she reluctantly lets Bif drag her along to a community dance class, where gradually she starts finding her feet and romance as she meets her sister’s friends, Charlie (Timothy Spall), Jackie (Joanna Lumley) and Ted (David Hayman).
DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE ENGLISH EXPRESSION “TO FIND ONE´S FEET”? CAN YOU THINK OF A SUITABLE TRANSLATION INTO SPANISH?
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“THE STITCHER LIST”: PODCASTS ON THE GO TO IMPROVE YOUR LISTENING SKILLS AT EASTER (1B2)

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TheStitcherListblog2

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Let Stitcher give you personalized recommendations based on your listening preferences. Enjoy This American Life? Stitcher lets you see what other listeners of This American Life also like to listen to – you’ll have new favorites in no time. Let Stitcher help you discover

BOOK PRESENTATION by Dana Gynther: ‘The Admiral’s Baths'(B2, C1, C2)

 

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Tucked at the end of a narrow, crooked street in the Mediterranean city of Valencia, you may be surprised to come upon an ancient public bathhouse, a surprising relic from another time. The Admiral’s Baths have stood sentry here for 700 years, through wars, reconstruction, epidemics and the Inquisition—and still stand today. If only these walls could talk, you might think. What stories lie beneath those star-carved ceilings, across these tiled floors…

With this novel The Admiral’s Baths, author Dana Gynther offers us one possibility. Told from the perspective of four women of different times and circumstances, we witness the unfolding history of the ancient bathhouse through the struggles, desires, tragedies, and triumphs of Fatima, Angels, Clara, and Rachel. Though these characters are separated by hundreds of years, we find that what connects them is more powerful than the passage of time, and we celebrate the enduring human spirit, which stands strong like the Admiral’s Bath’s themselves.  READ MORE

 

 

THE PAST PERFECT (1B2)

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CELEBRATING 100 YEARS OF WOMEN´S SUFFRAGE IN THE UK (1B2)

THESE DAYS PEOPLE HAVE BEEN TALKING A LOT ABOUT GENDER EQUALITY: GOYA AWARDS, ETC… In 1918, following years of bitter struggle, (some) women finally gained the right to vote in the UK. 2018 marks 100 years since Parliament passed a law which allowed the first women, and all men, to vote for the first time.

As we approach the 100th anniversary of women gaining the right to vote, it’s painfully obvious how much more work there is to be done….“We must celebrate the incredible advances previous generations have made. But as we recognise the battles they fought and won, we need to regather our strength and determination for further battles. We can’t stop yet. The job’s not yet done!”

READ MORE…

WATCHING AUTHENTIC TV IN ENGLISH (B2, C1, C2)

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Television is great for learning English. The pictures make it easier to understand than the radio and because you can see who’s talking, you get a better idea of what people mean. Just watch their “body language”!

Watch programmes that you find enjoyable and entertaining – whatever you watch will help you to improve your English. Ororo.tv is great but I´ve written about it before…Why don´t you try watching tv online? CLICK ON THE LINK BELOW

https://tvcatchup.com

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After clicking on CHANNELS, you can choose the programme you want to watch.

Before Brexit, I used to watch watchallchannels.com/. Unfortunately, it doesn´t work anymore abroad due to right issues after Brexit.This website was mobile friendly so you could watch it on any device.

Here’s a  guide to learning as much as possible while watching English television:

Only watch programmes you find interesting. Learning English should be fun – not something you have to force yourself to do. If you have a passion for football, watch matches or the sports news. A variety of programmes is best, anyway.

Keep a notebook near to your television, so that you can jot down any new words or expressions that you hear. This is especially useful if the programme you are watching has been subtitled into your language.

Try to watch English television regularly. Even if you can only watch 15 minutes a day, you’ll be amazed how much you learn.

Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything – English television is normally aimed at native English language speakers. Programmes often include difficult words and expressions. If the programme you’re watching is full of unknown words, just concentrate on understanding the general meaning.

Even cartoons and children’s programmes are useful when learning English and quiz shows are useful for learning how to ask and answer questions in English.

Keep a note of television programmes and presenters that you find easy to understand and try to watch them regularly. Doing this will increase your confidence and give you a sense of achievement. (http://www.english-at-home.com/business/learn-english-with-television/)

Whatever you like to watch the most important thing is that you sit back and enjoy. Learning English should be a fun activity, especially during the summer season, and it’s amazing how much more we can learn when we’re relaxed.

 

“HOW TO BE SPANISH”… ACCORDING TO “THE TIMES”(1B2)

How to be Spanish

Swear like a trooper, drink your red wine cold and always finish your dinner

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Learning the language is only the first step to becoming Spanish. Getting a tan and knowing your tapas from your pintxos are steps two and three, but there’s still a long way to go before you can pass yourself off as anything other than a guiri. There are some shortcuts, though.

First, forget Anglo-Saxon notions of politeness, discretion and decorum. Being Spanish involves walking into a bar, kissing and hugging complete strangers, shouting “oiga” at the waiter and chucking anything you can’t eat or drink on the floor. Except glasses. That’s too much. But you can drop the please and thank yous. They’re so unnecessary.

If you’re a lady, carry a fan. Over here, it’s a tool, not a souvenir, and regardless of gender, do try to develop the uncanny Spanish skill of knowing instinctively where the coolness is. Not hipster coolness. The ambient one.

You also need to unlock that potty mouth. Spoken — or, rather, shouted — Spanish is shot through with obscenities of astonishing inventiveness and anatomical awareness, and it doesn’t matter who you’re talking to. In Salamanca, I heard a teacher on a school trip tell his pupils to “**** off for lunch”, and that “any ****er” who wasn’t back at 3.30 sharp would be “****ing left behind for social services”. The kids seemed cool with that, even though being Spanish requires utter disdain for punctuality. Arriving anywhere 30 minutes late is actually considered quite early and quite rude.

You need to learn food etiquette, too. Start with a breakfast of tostada, sobrasada and a cortado, and don’t ask for butter. This is olive-oil country. Stop whatever you’re doing at 11am and nip out for a beer and a sandwich. That should keep you going until lunchtime, at 2pm. You’ll be going for a three-course menu del dia, and it will take between two and three hours. Then have a kip.

Next, tapas. You can always spot the Brits. They’re the ones who walk into a crowded tapas bar and can’t believe there’s a table free. That’s because the Spanish sneer at tables. Tapas are eaten at the bar, while yelling at the waiter and throwing stuff on the floor. Except the glasses. Remember that.

Then go home and watch telly. Got Talent España and Sabado Deluxe — a sort of Jeremy Kyle for celebrities — are good choices. They’re probably on the TV in the bar, but with all that shouting, you won’t be able to hear a thing.

Ten o’clock is dinnertime. Start with beer or ice-cold red wine, because cocktails are for after dinner, and make sure you eat everything you’ve ordered. Countries that have suffered famine are funny about that. Don’t go overboard on tips (it’s not done here), be ambivalent about bulls and, finally, always take your phone to the toilet. This is a) so you can check for messages from your secret lover, and b) because every motion-activated toilet light on the Iberian peninsula is programmed to go out after four seconds.

https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/guide-how-to-be-spanish-sgf39ttgx

Ana Garcia 

Had I read this article in “The Sun”, I would have understood. What you publish tells volumes about the publication you are. It is highly disappointing to see such article in a serious paper.

DO YOU UNDERSTAND THE FIRST SENTENCE WRITTEN BY ANA GARCÍA? IS THIS A THIRD CONDITIONAL?

 

 

BORED AT CHRISTMAS…? (1B2)

I´m sharing with you an activity designed by my colleague CRISTINA CABAL, whcih was recently published in her blog….

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CLICK ON THE PHOTO BELOW TWICE TO BE DIRECTLY LINKED TO CRISTINA´S ACTIVITY

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Smart Up Your English

LEARN NEW WORDS, EXPRESSIONS, PHRASES...

Helendipity Weblog

learn English and share your experiences (SERENDIPITY= the accidental discovery of something pleasant and useful!)

Adrian Underhill's Pronunciation Site

Practical Discovery of English Pronunciation

Smart Up Your English

LEARN NEW WORDS, EXPRESSIONS, PHRASES...

Helendipity Weblog

learn English and share your experiences (SERENDIPITY= the accidental discovery of something pleasant and useful!)

Adrian Underhill's Pronunciation Site

Practical Discovery of English Pronunciation