Plateau learners

Plateau learners

Teaching tip

Are you familiar with those learners who make great strides through the early stages of learning English and then seem to get stuck around A2/B1? They trundle along without making any apparent advance: plateau learners.



It can be demotivating to feel stuck on a plateau; it’s tempting to give up completely. So what can we do to motivate students to push themselves a little bit harder and see greater rewards in their learning?

As teachers, however, it is important to understand that things do slow down because the amount of effort students invest in learning does not give them the huge return on learning that they had at the beginning. When learning starts, improvement is noticeable all the time: students can start to communicate with each other, understand spoken English, start to read English texts. All of these steps are noticed: ‘Hey, I’m learning!’. When you start from zero, then you see every improvement. However, as time goes on, these advances become less noticeable and therefore students feel they are not progressing. This is when the dreaded plateau looms.

Students who have followed a Network Now A2.2 or Network Now B1.2 course (and seen their own progress) often choose to take a break. When they return to the English classroom, a good option is to use a coursebook from the Refresh Now series. This gives them the chance to review what they know - grammar, vocabulary and structures - in connection with engaging topics and texts. Refresh Now A2 as well as Refresh Now B1 give students the chance to see how far they have come since they began learning, without having the pressure of tackling new material. And of course they will be using fun and engaging material.


The Refresh Now series can be a useful way for (so-called) plateau learners to find their way back into being motivated students once again. Recognizing what they have already learnt will give them a good base to move ahead.

So whether you want to engage students who want to refresh what they know or you want to motivate students who feel they have reached a plateau, Refresh Now A2 and B1 may be just the ticket!

Why not try some of these tips to be involved in your students’ learning:

Let students know the areas they need to work on; check that they are doing homework and are engaged in the tasks in the classroom; use some innovative ideas to raise awareness in the classroom (look at the latest Klett Classroom Clips for some good ideas); encourage students to have individual goals which are achievable (for example to hold a short presentation; learn a poem by heart; summarise a newspaper article). All of these tips can help students to notice their own progress and will stop them from feeling stuck on the plateau.


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