How to become an intermediate language learner
Anybody can be a beginner language learner, but how do you make that transition to intermediate language learning? Let’s talk about going from beginner to intermediate in learning a language, everything from language apps to go from beginner to intermediate, to what to expect, how to shift your strategy, and all that good stuff.
Intermediate language learning resources
The first difference between beginner and intermediate language learning is what you’re looking for in your resources. Specifically, we’re looking for a little bit less surface-level stuff and something a little bit more complex.
So if you’re used to beginner language apps like Duolingo, maybe Mondly, for example, it’s really easy to enjoy the fun little bits of the app, maintaining a streak, getting those little boosts of dopamine. That is really fun and really exciting and really motivating at first.
But a lot of language learners find that after a while it just kind of feels empty, like you’re not really learning anything. And it’s situations like this where you need to be looking for something a little bit more intermediate level.
So this means looking less for, you know, multiple choice and basic vocabulary to something like building sentences and communicating. Now, this is going to be the difference between something like Drops, which is really great for beginner vocabulary words, and Lingvist, which is also good for beginner vocabulary words, but goes a lot farther into intermediate and even advanced learning.
Or it could mean going from beginner Rosetta Stone where you’re just looking at pictures and repeating simple phrases to something like Busuu, which encourages really active use of the language. You get a picture, sure, but you have to explain the picture in your own words.
And I know what you’re thinking: “that sounds really difficult, I have no idea how to do that. And even if I try to do that, it doesn’t work. I can’t do it. I get flustered and I give up.” This is why it’s really important to go to intermediate language learning resources when you’re ready.
If you spend all your time tapping buttons and doing really simple multiple choice and not really learning anything, then you’re never going to get to the point where you can use the language in the way that you actually want to. Basically, you’re looking for more everyday use of the language in ways that feel safe comfortable, and interesting.
Of course, you can totally jump into a language exchange on Tandem or HelloTalk, but that really isn’t necessary. There are tons of steps in between like Duolingo and full conversations. It’s somewhere in between those points that you really want to focus on.
What to expect as an intermediate language learner
The next thing to know about the difference between beginner and intermediate language skills is shifting your expectations about what success looks like. So like I said, if you are stuck doing a little tap dance on Duolingo or something really simple and really basic, then you are used to looking at the daily streaks, building your XP fun little sounds, fun little noises, and just every little hit of “you’re doing a great job, keep going!”
This is perfectly fine in the beginning, but if you want to move to the intermediate levels, you need something a little bit more. You need intermediate-level growth. Unfortunately, this is where things can get a little tricky because we’re so used to the constant wins and the constant motivation.
Once we move over to the intermediate side of things, it can feel really demotivating because all of a sudden you’re not constantly bombarded by positivity and congratulations. You are learning more, and your language learning is getting better, but it looks different. You’re not going to feel like you accomplished something every 2 seconds, every single day. Sometimes you go like a week without feeling like you accomplished anything. And that’s normal.
This is why when you go from beginner to intermediate language learning, you need to focus less on every day, constant wins, to enjoying the process and enjoying the language. So instead of focusing on your daily streak, this could mean developing relationships in the target language.
This could mean watching Netflix or watching YouTube. This could mean listening to podcasts or something with a little bit more depth and not so many basic phrases that you can use to like, travel around at tourist level. Once you have that basic vocabulary and you have that basic grammar down, it’s really important to go into the actual language.
You have to realize that these beginner language apps, a vast majority of their job is to keep you hooked on the app so that you keep going with your language learning, you stay consistent. So when you leave those beginner apps and you start getting more complex and more intermediate, you have a much harder time staying consistent just because you don’t know what to look for. We don’t have those small everyday wins. So it just kind of feels like we’re not winning at all. So what’s the point?
Find an activity in your target language that you genuinely enjoy and study in that way so that you’re actually enjoying the process and less focused on how much XP you’re building up or how many words you’re collecting.
Learning intermediate concepts
The next thing to know about how to become an intermediate language learner is to focus less on the small details and more on the big picture. When we start learning a language, we start with the very basic stuff, right? We start with very basic vocabulary, very basic grammar, things like that, where the details are very, very important. You can get dinged for having the accent right or wrong. You can get dinged for all sorts of things because your job is to really get a handle on the language and start to recognize the patterns.
Becoming an intermediate language learner, though, you want to focus more on the content and the gist and understanding what’s going on. This is where things like comprehensible input come in, you’re learning to understand the totality of the language and you’re less focused on memorizing specific words. You want to understand more complex ideas. So you’ve got to focus more on those and less on like learning a different word for the color brown.
Yes, those things are valuable and important, but if you’re trying to become an intermediate or even advanced language learner, you need to focus more on understanding and using the language like native speakers would. And not like a beginner language learner would.
Best intermediate language apps
So now that we understand the difference between beginner and intermediate language learning apps, language learning skills, and language learning strategies, how do you make that distinction? How do you find the best resources for your intermediate language learning?
My recommendation is to go to my language app search where you can search by language and by level. So if you are learning German, for example, and you want to become an intermediate German level or you feel like you’re just kind of you’re done with the beginner stuff and you want to get more serious, it’s easy enough to select German, go to intermediate and you find a whole bunch of language learning apps that will suffice for this.
Now keep in mind that differences between beginner, intermediate, and advanced are not particularly cut and dry, which is why when you have the information I just gave you in this video, you can use that to apply to all my language app reviews and see if this is the app for you based on the criteria mentioned in this video.
It’s basically the difference between, “Yeah, you could kind of learn a few intermediate things using these resources” or “This resource will take me from intermediate to even advanced. There’s a lot of opportunity for me to learn a lot of new things in the way that I want to learn.”
Because remember that that’s really important. We really want to focus on the language skills that we want to build for our own language learning. And if you want to learn more about that, check out my free course here.