Previous Next

Jump hurdles, overcome barriers and achieve your linguistic goals.

How to beat the dreaded language learning plateau and maintain the stamina required to get to where you want to be.

How many times have you heard someone say: “I’d love to learn French/Japanese/Spanish/Russian”? Chances are your answer will probably be: “a lot”! But why is that? Well, there are myriad reasons for people wishing they could speak another language, but we think these might ring a few bells:


“I had the most amazing holiday in Florence and ever since I’ve always wanted to speak Italian”

“My Grandfather was Czech and I’d love to be able to speak the language of my ancestors”

“I work with people from around the world who can speak many different languages and I’d love to be able to do the same – it’s so impressive”

“I loved learning French at school but I just didn’t take it seriously – I’m ready to do that now!”


In fact, learning a second language made it to the top 10 of ‘skills that people want to learn in 2019’ according to the ‘SkillUp your Life’ programme. Here at Professional Language Solutions, this doesn’t surprise us at all – our business is language and every day we see the benefits learning a language gives to our clients. That’s not to say we don’t also witness the challenges that come with learning a new skill. The fact that wanting to learn a second language is a popular personal goal, doesn’t make it an easy one. This article will take a look at the most common hurdles we’ve observed, and some ideas on how to overcome them.


Focus on the long-term, not the quick fix.

When it comes to language learning, it is true what they say about ‘slow and steady winning the race', but it may not quite feel like it in today’s ‘next-day delivery’ world. Learning a new language is something which requires time; if you rush it, it won’t stick and there’s no escaping that. This can sometimes feel demotivating and disheartening, but not if you reframe your thinking and adjust your expectations. Try to immerse yourself in the process of learning rather than assessing your progress every day. To help you do this, think about all the factors included in learning a new language:


  1. Memorising vocabulary
  2. Understanding grammatical structures
  3. Identifying and producing new sounds and combinations of sounds
  4. Recognising patterns
  5. Learning a new alphabet (sometimes)
  6. Fine-tuning skills in reading, writing, listening and speaking
  7. Observing cultural and etiquette norms
  8. The list could go on…


The big picture is acquiring the language as a whole, the smaller picture is the development of the points above and these are your day-to-day wins; for example, when you finally remember the word for ‘economy’, or when that particularly tricky grammar point finally clicks or when you manage to perfect a ‘rolling r’ sound. Perfection takes time, but success in conveying a message doesn’t.

Learning a language is the perfect combination of day-to-day achievements and a massive overall accomplishment, don’t mix up the 2 – you can’t expect to make significant leaps in a matter of days, or even weeks, but you should always take the time to recognise and celebrate the small wins along the way.


Learn how to perfect non-perfectionism!

As James Joyce once said, “a man’s mistakes are his portals of discovery”. Don’t allow your inevitable mistakes to demotivate you. It is a fact that we learn from our mistakes – so why are we so averse to making them? Don’t avoid them, embrace them – in fact, keeping a ‘common error diary’ is an excellent self-study activity. Make a note of errors that you regularly make (this is easily done after receiving your marked homework or receiving feedback from your teacher after a communicative activity in class), then every time you sit down to complete your homework or prepare for an in-class consolidation task, take a look at the list to remind yourself of the errors and you may just find that you make fewer mistakes, thus building your linguistic muscles!


Take on the challenge.

Give yourself the ultimate challenge when learning a language – speak to a native speaker (who isn’t a teacher or classmate) in real-life! As daunting as it sounds, it’s the best way to prove to yourself that you’ve learnt something, you’ll come away feeling motivated, proud and exhilarated. Of course, that’s all assuming that the experience isn’t a total disaster, which it won’t be, if you set realistic expectations. Bear in mind that the experience will be stressful, and you won’t perform perfectly; but remember: embrace the errors! Setting a realistic time-frame is also essential. Give yourself a deadline and work your way up to it.

Finally, a word to the wise: learning a new language isn’t just all about the language; learning any new skill actually boosts your overall well-being by building feelings of accomplishment, achievement and pride. More doors will open, more connections will be made and most importantly, more enjoyment will be had.


Professional Language Solutions has over 30 years’ experience of organising tailored language courses for our clients in over 50 different languages. Start your language learning journey and get in touch.

Contact Us (HQ)

Language Solutions

7 King Street Cloisters

London, W6 0GY


Language Solutions Holdings - our companies

  Professional Language Solutions Ltd
Established in 1991, PLS provides language training in multiple formats and over 50 languages for corporate and government customers across the UK.
  Language Solutions International Ltd
Operating since 1993, LSI is the international wing of our organisation. We offer specialist English language training and assessments, as well as recruitment and manpower solutions for projects around the world.


We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.