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The Best Language-Learning Strategy for Intermediate-Level Learners

The way you should be approaching learning a new language depends a whole lot on your current level. In this blog post, I will tell you what the best language-learning strategy is for you if you're at an intermediate level.

The following recommendations are based on years of researching actual language-learners who reach the best results learning with the Speakly app. Do the same things that our most successful learners do, and you too can learn a new language in just a few months! ☝️

It's all about actually using the language

As an intermediate-level learner, your goal is to start using the language as much as possible—to channel all you've learned into practice. Three key elements are important here.

These crucial elements for intermediate-level learners are:

  • Learning fewer new words per day.

  • Immersing yourself into the language even more.

  • Getting friendly with grammar.

Let's discuss all these elements one by one so you can understand why you should be doing exactly these things and nothing else.

Learning fewer new words per day

What we see based on years of research is that, for most people, the equivalent of improving their language skills is constantly learning new words. So, “The more words I know, the better I speak the language,” basically. That's why many people who want to improve their language skills also buy a foreign language book and start reading and translating it. ☝️

And yes, while it might sound logical, quite frankly, this is not the case at all. And such behavior is actually holding you back from much faster results. 🚀

But why is that? The answer is very simple, and it's all connected to the number of words and sentences we actually need to know to live our daily lives.

You probably know by now that Speakly teaches you words and sentences based on their real-life relevance in everyday conversations (read more about this methodology in this blog post).

What we see from research is that knowing the 300 most important words of a foreign language equals about 42% of all real-life conversations.

When you know 1,200 words, that percentage rises to 70%. And when you learn the 4,000 most important words of a language, you will basically have the vocabulary level required for fluency. Which, in reality, means nearly any real-life situation. 😊

So, strangely enough, in most cases, intermediate learners who want to improve their language level don't need to learn new stuff—they need to reinforce and use the things they already know, and they need to make sure that they know the statistically most relevant words and sentences (which Speakly specializes in). So, instead of focusing on increasingly complex things, go back to basics!

That's the main reason why Speakly recommends that you, as an intermediate-level learner, focus more on other study elements (e.g., listening exercises, LIVE-situations, vocabulary review, etc.) than learning too many new words per day.

💥 Summary: The best thing to do as an intermediate learner is to set your daily goal limit to five new words (or ten, max), reach it every day, and then spend the majority of your study time studying elements such as daily listening. 💥

Immersing yourself more deeply in the language

Daily listening is crucial on all levels: It's important to listen to the foreign language daily, even if you don't understand a word. It’s important even more so on the intermediate level, where you already have a foundation in the language but need to start using it.

This might be surprising to you, but what we see from research is that most intermediate learners actually have the majority of the vocabulary that they would need to comfortably use the language, but they still aren’t confident enough to find the words. This makes them feel like they need MORE words—maybe these new words will help them out. 😉

This is a vicious cycle that never actually ends; the only way to break it is to understand that, to use the language in almost any situation, you only need a fraction of the things you think you need (remember: the 1,200 most relevant words = 72% of all real-life situations).

So, what does all this have to do with daily listening? The Speakly listening exercises are special in that they actually use the language’s statistically most relevant words and sentences to help you reinforce the language in your memory. Thanks to that, they have a massive effect on activating your listening and speaking skills.

Yes, research shows that listening to Speakly listening exercises daily activates your speaking skills, and that's why daily listening is the most important element for intermediate learners. 🚀

To explore how and why you should be doing the daily listening, check out this blog post.

💥Summary: Daily listening is the most important study element for you as an intermediate learner. So be sure not to skip it—and keep in mind that it’s best to listen to a single Speakly exercise five to seven days in a row for the best results.💥

Getting friendly with grammar

As you're now on the intermediate level, it's a good time to start diving into the specifics of grammar. As you probably know, we advise beginners not to dig into grammar, so they don’t lose motivation and instead focus on building up the foundation of the language.

But even so, it's important to keep in mind that you don't need to know EVERYTHING from grammar. As with words and sentences, learn only the statistically most relevant ones that you actually need. Oftentimes, grammar has a lot of fluff that is nice to know but is not actually needed. 😉

Fun fact: I know how to conjugate French verbs in a tense that was last used in the twelfth century. Does this sound like a reasonable thing to know? And yes… This obsolete verb tense is typically featured in the French verb conjugation tables available in all language manuals… So, you get the point. 🤯

The question then becomes: What should you study from the whole of the language’s grammar rules? The answer is simple! We have made this selection for you, and you will find everything you need to know about the language’s grammar on the Speakly Grammar page. So, make yourself a nice cup of coffee and dig in.

One thing to keep in mind is to focus most of your energy on conjugating verbs. Verbs are the most important part of every sentence—they usually give the sentence its meaning. So, it would be great if you felt fairly confident with the language’s main verb forms. ☝️

To read more about how and why you should learn ONLY the most used verb forms, check out this blog post.

💥Summary: As you're now on the intermediate level, it's time to dive into grammar. But discover only the elements that you’ll actually need. Don't pick up a random grammar book—it has too much unnecessary information. Just visit Speakly’s Grammar section, and you'll find everything you need without the fluff.💥

Extra tip: Focus more on reviewing than learning new stuff

As I mentioned above, for you, as an intermediate-level learner, reviewing previously learned words and sentences is massively more important than adding new words to your vocabulary. Take some time every other day (or daily, if you feel up to it) to review ten or twenty previously learned sentences to make sure you feel comfortable using them.

A neat trick to use while reviewing sentences is to check whether you can say them in different tenses and modes (i.e., affirmation, negation, question). Such brain gymnastics helps you use these sentences in real-life conversations much more effectively. To check out how to train your language skills in such a way, check out this blog post.

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