{Language Learning} The illusion of the intermediate level

by Julia

I am an intermediate level student in both Chinese and Japanese languages and the more I learn the more I realise there’s not such thing as ‘intermediate level’ of language knowledge.

You are either a beginner [you’re just starting, you know very little but you learn at a great pace] or an advanced student [you can express yourself with confidence, you can consume materials created for native speakers, etc.]. In between, there’s this grey, sticky puddle of mud in which you’re basically good at nothing.

Because you know too much to be considered a beginner, but you definitely don’t know enough to be able to approach books or movies or dramas produced in your target language. At the same time, if you don’t start using those materials to enhance your knowledge, you will never be able to take that qualitative leap which really brings you to the next level. A vicious cycle that’s very hard to overcome.

Very gloomy perspective. I know.

What I’ve gathered from my own experience is that there’s only one thing you can do: never stop. Keep studying, keep practicing, keep listening to your Chinese class / Japanese pod /Talk to me in Korean audio files and never never never give up. Even if you don’t exactly where you’re going, you’ll end up somewhere anyway.

I may be wrong here, but right know I feel that you don’t always have to have everything figured out when it comes to language learning. We all have different abilities/inabilities and to pick out the best system that suit your needs is more complicated that it may seem, even after years of study and self-study. I’m starting to think that keep working, even with a system that may not be the best for you, is always better that constantly stopping in order to find the perfect learning system. There’s no such thing, in most cases at least.

I’m probably not studying with the most efficient method ever and I often feel like I’m not progressing that much, but I know that if I keep going one day I’ll just get up and say to myself ‘OMG, I really came this far’.