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Navigating the Difficult Path from Intermediate to English Fluency

As a language learner, trying to navigate from intermediate to advanced and beyond to fluency is a very complicated and confusing. In this episode, I’ll give you a few tips and ideas to help you simplify the process and focus on the types of activities that will keep moving your forward in the right direction.

If you haven’t listened to part 1, I recommend doing that BEFORE listening to this section because this episode will make a lot more sense!


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Navigating the Path to Fluency

by Amy Whitney | Real English Conversations

Read & Listen to this Audio - Podcast Transcription is Here

Hey, everybody, this is Amy Whitney from, and I’ve got a great lesson coming up for you today. We’re going to be talking about this really complicated stage in your language, learning between intermediate going to advanced and continuing on to reaching fluency. Just to let you know, this lesson today is part of a four-lesson series that I’m doing.


So if you didn’t hear yesterday’s lesson, it’s really, really important that you go back and listen to that right now. This audio is going to be here for you to listen after you’ve completed that previous lesson we were talking about this time where you’re usually restarting your language, learning, or you’re at a plateau where you feel like you’re a little bit stuck or not making any progress, or maybe you’ve taken a long break. But honestly, even if you’re somebody that has been just pushing forward and making great progress with your language learning, it’s still a great lesson.

Listen to Part 1: Kickstarting Your English


And it’s going to help you to get a nice, clear image of where you’re going and what you want to achieve in the next three months, which is really, really important. You should be able to find the link to that episode in the notes for this podcast lesson. So let’s dive into this lesson today where we’re going to be talking about navigating this very complicated stage between intermediate continuing to advanced and going from there to reaching fluency. Regardless of where you are on this journey.


The advice in this podcast is going to save you a lot of time and to help you realize that you’re not the first person to go through this and you don’t really need to figure it out on your own. Before I explain how we’re going to approach this problem, I just want to share something that you as a listener might not realize. A lot of the students that I teach in private lessons are actually people that live in either Canada or the United States, and they haven’t just moved to that country.


They’ve actually been there for quite a while. And they’ve been going through this exact process trying to figure out how to learn and improve on their own. And they’re putting in a lot of effort. They’re spending a lot of time watching TV, listening to podcasts, maybe doing some exercises, and maybe even they’ve signed up for a course or two locally in their city. But it’s not really working on the skills that they need to communicate and they’re not really sure what to do to get to that next level.


So eventually they seek out professional help and they book a lesson with a teacher that actually knows how to help get them over these problems. Because honestly, the advice that is on the Internet is not all good advice. A lot of the advice is for beginner students, for example, or pre intermediate students or advice from English teachers that have never learned a  language themselves. So they’re just kind of saying things that they think help, but they don’t really understand if it does or not, because they’ve never been through the process.


Just to give you a really quick example, this is probably the most common piece of advice that is widely believed and widely given across the Internet to try to improve your listening skills. The advice that you’re going to find is simply to listen to a lot of audio and eventually you’ll be able to hear and understand everything perfectly. And that is awful advice. That is probably the slowest, most impractical way of approaching this problem with no strategy whatsoever. And you wouldn’t know that as a language learner.


You’re not going to know that. You’re going to hear this advice being given by, I don’t know, three different teachers and five blog posts because you’re Googling how to improve listening skills because you’re in the real world. You can’t understand somebody when they’re speaking to you, or maybe you’re somebody that needs to have English for your job or for your business. And when a client is trying to explain something to you or one of your colleagues or you’re in a group meeting on Zoom, and you can’t understand the fine details of what’s going on.


These are real world problems and you need to have a solution that is not going to waste your time because. OK, fine. If you have 10 hours a day to sit around and listen to music and watch videos and listen to podcasts and have massive amounts of English exposure, then yeah, maybe that strategy eventually will work for you. But most of you are, like me, very busy. I don’t have 10 hours a week even to work on my language learning.


And I need to do things that actually work and are a good use of my time. And that’s exactly what I try to do for my students, is to show you the way that you can do this a lot faster so that you’re not getting lost for years and years and years trying to figure this out on your own. I mean, just think about all of the lost opportunities, whether those opportunities have already went by or opportunities that are just around the corner, that if your language level was at a different stage, you’d be able to make it happen, whether it’s for a job or meeting somebody new, a good friend potentially in your area or whatever it is.


The thing is, with learning English in particular, it’s a very difficult language and it takes a lot of practice and it’s going to take a lot of time. So we don’t really want to do inefficient things that can make the process any longer than it already has to be. So what is the solution here? Well, to be honest, it’s getting the guidance from somebody that has done this before. They specialize in this area and they know exactly what to do.


And honestly, there are a couple of ways you can do this. The first one is really focusing on a few teachers that you feel are going to be the most helpful for you and really consuming the content that they’re sending you, whether they’re sending you lessons on their email list or videos on YouTube, whatever way you follow that teacher that you really love and you feel is helpful, make sure that you do the activities that they’re recommending. And the second option is to actually learn with that teacher.


And I just want you to think about this for a moment. If you really start focusing on the skills that are your weakest skills and you’re getting the advice from somebody who knows what they’re doing has helped countless other students just like you that have faced the same problem and giving you very specific activities that are going to help you to quickly overcome that problem. What is your language level going to be like within the next three months? How many of those obstacles that have been holding you back that you don’t know how to overcome?


It could be related to feeling shy when you speak, having low self-confidence or not really being sure how to practice your speaking fluency. Maybe you just listen to podcasts and you watch TV shows and that’s good for listening, but you don’t really understand how to practice your speaking in an effective way. That’s actually going to lead to great results. And that’s the difference between trying to figure it out on your own and actually learning with somebody who knows exactly what you need to do or give you suggestions about what to try so that you can see that rapid increase in those skills that you’ve been stuck trying to figure out and trying to improve for so long.


And this was a mistake that I made. Definitely, when I was a lower level student, I was trying to figure it out on my own. I was using the methods that I had been taught when I was in school with textbooks and memorizing vocabulary and doing exercises. But when it came time for me to jump into real-world communication, I realized I had absolutely nonexistent listening abilities. I couldn’t understand anything hardly. And all of the words that I had worked so hard to memorize were not available at that moment where I needed to speak.


And if I could go back to that period of time when I had no idea what to do and have somebody say, Hey, Amy, you need to do this. For example, if you want to understand and be able to use the same words that native speakers are using, study the way that people speak. Go through a conversation if you find words and phrases and things that you don’t understand, the likelihood of those words being very common words is very, very high.


And you’re going to hear them and you’re going to need those same words and phrases for your own speaking. That probably would have saved me. I don’t know, like eight years of struggle. And I didn’t know that I had to figure that out on my own, and fortunately, I’m a very creative and determined person, and as soon as I decided to start thinking out of the box, I tried different methods, I tried different techniques, and I found the things that worked best for me.


And I started teaching them to other people. And I’ve been working with my students one to one over. I don’t know how many lessons, maybe 4000 lessons now working one to one with different students. And people are coming to me that have literally lived in the United States for 10 years, 15 years, and they’re not happy with something related to their English. And within five or ten minutes, I know exactly what we’re going to do, what they need to focus on, what type of activity they should try to overcome that problem or that feeling that they’ve been suffering with and struggling to try to figure out how to solve on their own where somebody like me was sitting there able to help them within five or ten minutes.


Just imagine if you had somebody like that available to you. The main point that I really want to focus on here is just the difference between trying to figure out things on your own versus following the advice from somebody that can really give you the steps that you need to overcome those problems. And I do that both in my online courses and the email lessons that we send to our students. But I also do this working one to one with students. And this is actually the point where I’m going to tell you about something really, really exciting that I am making available for our New Year’s promotion.


First of all, before I tell you about this promotion, I just need to say that I have not been able to accept new private lesson students for over a year. The last time I was accepting new students was in December 2019. And that’s why this offer that I have for you is so special. I’m going to be giving up to 20 students access to unlimited language coaching with me so that you can have access to this specific advice that you need to overcome your biggest problems.


And we’re going to do this over a three month period. In addition to that, you’ll have access to the online fluency courses. You’ll have private lessons, access to our community events to practice speaking with the Real English Conversations teachers and other members of our community. This is something that is really going to be good for you. If you’re somebody who feels like you’re sort of stuck and you’re not sure where to go to get to that next step, or you really need to make fast progress with your English learning, having the guidance of somebody that knows how to get you from where you are now to where you want to be in the shortest period of time is definitely going to be a huge help here.

Check out the New Year’s Special Offer


Beyond that, I’m here to support you, to give you motivation and to encourage you along the way. So if you’re interested in that, definitely check out the link that I have in the episode, notes down below. And I mean, it doesn’t hurt to look, just click over, check out all of the details of this offer. And if it sounds like something that you want to do, don’t wait. These twenty spaces are definitely going to be filled up.


This is a crazy offer and I’ve never done anything like this before. So get in there. If you want to be one of these lucky 20 that’s going to be learning with me for tomorrow, I’m going to be talking about staying consistent. And this is probably one of the biggest challenges that people have learning on their own online. And I’m going to give you the specific advice that I give to myself and many of my students to really help them to be as consistent as possible, because consistency is probably the easiest thing you can do to make the most progress.


But it’s also difficult to do because things come up in our day to day life that stop us from doing what we want to do. So I’ll be talking about that tomorrow. I hope you guys have a great rest of the day. And I look forward to sharing some more tips with you very soon.

Watch the Video Version Here

Activate the subtitles to listen and read this lesson.

What is the Hardest Part of Trying to Improve Your English?

After listening to this lesson, leave a comment below explaining what is the #1 thing that you want to improve. You can also mention that ways that you have tried to improve this skill.

We answer every comment that our students leave us. If we can help you, we will!


Meet Teacher Curtis

Whether you need to improve your speaking fluency, sharpen your listening skills, or build your confidence, Curtis can help you see results within your first few lessons. Curtis' speciality is helping students with pronunciation and to sound more natural when they speak in English.


Expert in Speaking Fluency


A Proven System for Building Confidence


Listening Skill Development


English for Professionals

Job interviews, presentations, customer service, sales, participating in meetings

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I felt confident, focused and present in the job interview which allowed me to get my dream job as a business consultant. Thanks for the excellent preparation! I couldn't have done it without your help!

Eli Santos - Business Consultant
Living in Canada (from Brazil)

For years, I was terrified to speak English. After only a few lessons, I started to feel more confident and felt free to speak my thoughts. Now, I can finally speak without fear and I feel like myself in English!

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I could not understand native speaker clients for my job and it was embarrassing. My teacher helped me to improve my listening very quickly. Now I feel confident to speak up in meetings and make phone calls.

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First Lesson (Trial Lesson):

Start of the lesson: You will explain your goals and learning challenges. At the same time, your teacher will evaluate your communication abilities.

Next the teacher will choose a small activity that is perfect for your level and focuses on the skills you want to improve.

Lastly, the teacher will talk to you about their recommendations to continue learning and how they plan to help you in your personalized course.