The Intermediate Syndrome

Intermediate text on a street sign

There is nothing more satisfying than being able to have a conversation in English for an ESL student.

Going out with friends and having a great time because you can finally communicate.

I’m stuck!

Why can’t I get past the intermediate level in English?

  • Fear of making too many mistakes
  • Stuck in your bubble
  • Ego takes over
  • You have no confidence

What can I do?

  • Focus on what you want to communicate, and not so much about grammar. For Example: “Hey what kind of beer do you like? I hear the local pool hall has an excellent choice in beers!”
  • Practicing in a relaxed atmosphere.
  • Submerge yourself in English. Movies that you have seen in your native language so you know what’s going on with NO subtitles. Music, Podcasts about things you enjoy, audiobooks are wonderful too.

Get out of your bubble!

I have Spanish speakers who go to the gas station, grocery store, and any restaurant where they can speak Spanish! WHAT?

Bust that bubble and get out and speak to native speakers. Overcome your fears and ditch your EGO!

Getting to the next level takes work. There is no magic pill, (if there were a magic pill I’d be rich)!

Don’t let your EGO slow you down.

You speak well in your native language and you feel like you should speak as well in English.

So what, you made a mistake. The sun will rise tomorrow.

Stop comparing yourself to other students.

Everyone learns differently.

  • Extroverts talk a lot
  • Some are good listeners

Combine these 2 elements and you will be the greatest conversationalist on the planet!

Steps to make it to the next level

Step out of your comfort zone.

  • Talk about a new subject where you are forced to learn new vocabulary.
  • Learn from your mistakes. If you make an error in grammar maybe it’s something you need to review. A word you used wrong in a conversation, review it and use that word in a sentence.
  • Find a native speaker to practice with.
  • Go to stores, restaurants, gas stations where you have to speak English.

Ideas to try

  • Join a group. Maybe you like to hike or kayak or knit. Find a group and get speaking.
  • Volunteer: Animal shelters are always in need of help. A retirement home where you can help and practice your English skills.
  • Call establishments and ask a lot of questions. For example, the cable company, They have people who would love to speak to you. Call a cell phone provider and ask about their newest phones, even though you may not be in the market, but you can still talk to someone.
  • Language exchange. Find a person who wants to learn your native language in exchange for English conversation.

What this all boils down to is PRACTICE!

Fear is your #1 enemy. Don’t let the enemy win.

"Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy."

-Dale Carnegie

ESL Student or Business Professional?

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