Break on Through to the Other Side

Train and sunlight - metaphor for ESL

Do you know the famous song by the 1960's band the Doors called "Break on Through to The Other Side"? My guess is that they were singing about drugs. After all, it was the 1960's, a period of intense cultural change in America.

But this song also makes me think of something completely different. It reminds me of that transition period from being an intermediate language speaker to being an advanced language speaker. There are many challenges that come with taking your language learning to the next level of proficiency.

It's easy to get stuck. So many language learners get stuck at the point where they can speak English well enough to function in the community or in their jobs, and they are understood by most people with whom they interact. Perhaps this sounds like you or someone you know. Learners at this stage can become comfortable, and their motivation to improve their English is not high because there is no urgency to improve their skills. Now, there is nothing wrong with being at this stage - and wanting to stay there! However, my belief is that many students don't really want to stay at this level; they want more from themselves, and they want to use the full richness of the English language. They just don't know how to get out of the rut. In my experience, taking your English to the next level requires two things:

How can you take your English to the next level? 1. Make English Relevant.

It's no fun to learn new vocab or grammar for no other reason than just to learn it. It must have relevance in your own personal life. What is important to you right now? Is is a new job or a new hobby? Is it talking to other English-speaking parents? Then, THIS is the English that will be most interesting and rewarding for you to learn. 2. Join a Community.

You can't improve your language skills in isolation. Trust me, I've tried. It's necessary to interact with others who will speak the target language with you. Join a conversation group, meet a friend for coffee who is learning English too, or hire a teacher to challenge you. You can't do it alone. Plus, learning with others makes the process a lot more enjoyable!

In Conclusion

Yes, it is easy to get stuck at the point between intermediate and advanced language skills. But by making the English highly personal to you and by engaging with others, you can push yourself to the next level. If you need some motivation, sign up for

my 3-Day English Speaking Challenge. You will receive an email every day for three days that focuses on one new skill that will help to make you a better English speaker.

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