I’ve recently written about how I sometimes struggle to stay motivated, and I believe one reason that I didn’t explore in my previous post is that I feel like I’ve been plateauing lately. While I do make an effort to study Korean every single day, I just don’t really feel that I’m improving. Part of the reason is probably that I’ve been slacking in my repetition sessions so I have had to relearn the same things several times. Another part of the explanation is my current level. I’m a fairly advanced speaker and while that is a good thing, this is also where measuring progress is the hardest. When you first start out learning something new, you can easily see how far you’ve come since you know you started from zero. That gets much more tricky as your skills advance.
This weekend I tried to recall my level at the start of the year and compare it to where I am now. At first glance it didn’t seem like there was much of a difference, which was utterly discouraging, but when I actually sat down and took a look at all my notes, the list of books I’ve read, shows I’ve seen etc., I realized that I must in fact have improved. I may not feel it in my daily life but I have made progress.
I can now understand full news broadcasts on pretty much any subject and while I used to think that the anchors spoke too fast, this is no longer the case. I have significantly improved my reading speed by making sure to read 10-20 pages in Korean everyday. It’s still not as fast as reading in English (somehow I doubt that it ever will be) but it’s definitely faster compared to what it was a year ago.
I’ve expanded my general vocabulary and my knowledge of Chinese root words, so I may easily recognize and understand words I haven’t heard before. I still have a long way to go, but this is something I’ve been working hard on this year and I’m glad that all the time spent memorizing Chinese characters is paying off.
While my understanding and reading have improved, I still feel that my speaking needs some work. I’m fairly fluent but there are still too many occasions where I wish I was able to express myself more naturally. This is something that I continue to struggle with and something that I desperately want to improve.
I always strive for perfection but I also realize that I have to acknowledge my small victories and signs of progress that will eventually take me where I want to go. Meanwhile, I’ll continue working hard on mastering this fascinating language and in the future be more mindful of tracking my progress so I don’t feel like I’m not getting anywhere. Even if I’m currently on a plateau it’s important to enjoy the view of my accomplishments and remind myself of how far I’ve come. That will motivate me to keep on climbing.
Anyone else struggling with the language learning plateau? What do you do to move on from there?