Language plateau

When did you feel your language learning started to plateau?

and when this happened how many known words did you have and what did you do about it?

Many thanks


Just go ahead, looking for some more interesting texts.
The quantity of the known words doesn’t matter.
The motivation, the patience, and the persistence are three the most important things for all language learners.


Again this is another big advantage of reading (and listening to) books as your primary method of acquiring a language; you never actually get the sense of plateauing – you just go through various comfort levels until you get proficient enough to read and listen unassisted. So really, the only plateau is a comfortable everyday use of your target language.

But if your only goal is just to watch your known word count go up, you will definitely plateau. In my case, my French word acquisition started crawling really slow after the 30K words mark, but not because I plateaued, but because I was reading books that contained mostly words that I already understood. But I was reading those books because I wanted to read them, not because I wanted to see my numbers go up, so I really didn’t care. Around that time, I started reading a paper book unassisted for the first time, and for the first few pages, I was thinking how many words I could be marking, but then I forgot about all that and just read the book.

If you’re “studying” a language, you will plateau, but if you’re “using” a language as a means to another end, you will never plateau, you’ll just get fluent enough at some point to forget about word counts.


“The motivation, the patience, and the persistence are three the most important things for all language learners”

I’d add the love of language. If you love the language, nothing else matters.

Well, all these comments are good but I have a feeling they are not getting at what you were looking for. I cannot help you since you are ahead of me, but I am curious as to when you felt your first “plateau.” What was the count at that stage, or was it after a certain amount of time?

Before I entered uni, I had around 20kish words in French here on LingQ. That was also my first foreign language I learned. During that time, I ran into a few distinct plateaus, and I can attribute a few things that helped me get out of them.

1st one was around 2-3k known words. I got past this one by immersing myself at home for about 8 hours a day for a week or two, and broke through and saw things clearly which boosted me to 8k known words.

2nd one I felt came around 12-13k known words. At this point, I felt what I really was struggling with was my listening comprehension, and because of that I set out to watch tons of movies with subtitles, watch youtube videos without subtitles and focused on them, even watching the same ones multiple times until I understood them. I also went through for a 2nd time my Assimil French book, which helped reinforce my base and helped with my pronunciation and accent, which led to being able to understand a little better.

And the last one I felt was around 18k known words. This one is kind of where I think I took a break from LingQ, if I remember correctly. I took a break, still spoke French with friends on skype when playing games, etc. I also dabbled in other languages, and I think this break ended up last around 6 months because I started to focus on other languages more. I still listened to music in the language, and watched some videos, but overall my input was pretty low. I think mentally I needed the break, and learning other languages always helps your previous language.

So basically I did a combination of things;
Went back over a beginner book or two.
Changing up your main source to learn the language for awhile.
Immersing yourself.
and I took a break (but I don’t recommend for others, what works for me, may not work for you).

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thanks for the feedback! I think for me the hardest thing what I need to overcome is reading as I am not a big fan of reading in english so it is even harder for me in Spanish! and of course listening comprehension which there seems to be not perfect way to do so! overall I feel I need to just keep on going and keep trying to do the best I can.

For sure! Good luck and everyone hits plateaus, just gotta stick with it at the end of the day.

Based on the previous posts, I just wanted to clarify whether we’re talking about the same thing: there is a difference between “plateauing” and another phenomenon, which I like to call “brickwalling.” A plateau would mean you’ve reached a certain point where you’re not really making meaningful progress for a while, because of the lack of additional challenges or proper materials to tackle.

Brickwalling, on the other hand, is when your progress slows due to the overwhelming jump in the complexity of the next stage that you need to tackle – you thought you were doing fine, but you come across a lesson on the subjunctive and you realize your previous comfort level was nothing but self-delusion and you hit a brick wall.

The solutions to both cases are simple:
If you reach a plateau, look for a hill to climb.
If you hit a brick wall, get some rest, then get a hammer.