It is fairly clear how to get your standard of language up to an A-level standard (exams taken at age 18 in the uk) due to clear syllabi and textbooks up to this standard. However, I find that past this standard there is no clear curriculum upon which to base your learning. This potentially causes a situation where you lack direction in learning.

What is the best way to structure your learning strategy in order to improve, in a language at a post A-level standard, your 1) reading ability and 2) listening ability.

Answers should be focused on self learners who also live outside of the country which uses the language.

(there is no soft question tag on this site, which is useful here).

  • I hope you can find a way to improve, but your question is really very broad. Can you have a look at How do I avoid asking questions that are too broad? and narrow it down a bit?
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 0:34
  • I have narrowed this
    – Trajan
    Commented Dec 26, 2018 at 15:53
  • It is still unclear what language(s) you have in mind, since none are mentioned in the question body. You should pick just one of those from the tags you used. The reason is that with the same number of hours of instruction, your level in Russian would presumably be lower than your level in French or Spanish. In addition, it is not clear what proficiency level (e.g. as defined by the CEFR) you have in any of these languages.
    – Tsundoku
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 10:19
  • I would say an A-level is a B1 standard. So my question refers largely to go towards B2/C1.
    – Trajan
    Commented Dec 29, 2018 at 12:03
  • I don't think this question is that broad. Have you got any answers? For me reading is much easier since there are enough resources (news articles, websites, etc) available on the web, but listening is quite difficult.
    – Blaszard
    Commented Feb 10, 2019 at 6:55

2 Answers 2


If an A-level is a B1 and you have reached that level in all the languages (French, Spanish and Russian) you mentioned in the tags under your question, then you can combine studying grammar (there are a lot of good resources which can guide your learning according to your actual level of knowledge) with language immersion.

Reading. Even if it may sound like an obvious suggestion, reading whatever material you have at your disposal (and that is written in your target languages) is the best way to improve your reading abilities and your vocabulary at the same time. In the view of the fact that you have already reached a B1 level, you can try with some blogs and books with an easy plot (for example, if you like comics and graphic novels, you can start with them as they have some illustrations that can help you to have a better understanding of what is going on). Also, when you read a paragraph, try to highlight the words and expressions you can’t understand at all and underline the ones whose meaning you can only guess. Then, search for their meaning, write it down and reread the paragraph to understand it better this time.

Listening. Like in the case of reading, the best approach you can adopt considering your actual level is to practice your listening by listening to people talking in your target languages. If you can’t do so in real life, you can at least watch whatever program, tv series, movies, documentaries or Youtube videos you want and listen to podcasts. Also, audiobooks can be a good way to improve your listening as they make you stay focused on listening if you want to understand what is going on.

Grammar: some new rules plus review of the old ones. On the Academia Pradoventura website there is a Spanish Grammar B2 section while on the AmautaSpanish there are many exercises for Spanish grammar for all levels. As for French, you should try the Étudier en France: French Intermediate course B1-B2 on Coursera. Also, again on Coursera you can find the Русский как иностранный: B1+. Russian as a foreign language: B1+, which is offered by the Saint Petersburg State University. Finally, if you want to revise some grammar you should already know while using books written in your target languages this time, on the Books4Languages website you can access for free the Gramática del Español Nivel B1 textbook plus books for Russian and French grammar up to A2 level fully written in Russian and French, respectively.

Finally, organize your weekly schedule in a way that lets you spend time on both improving your grammar and immerse in your target languages (for example, you can spend 30 minutes on grammar and an hour or more on language immersion). Also, try with different combinations of time management (for example, one day you can focus more on Russian, the next one on French and the other one on Spanish while you can still spend a little time on each language every – or almost every – day).


This is a big question.

reading ability

What is the language? It depends heavily on the language. I believe the way differs from one language to another. Generally, it's about learning how to read the written language, and how to pronounce what you read. I suggest you read newspapers and articles on the internet or books and e-books, for reading in English.

listening ability

It depends on the language and the location you're in. You focus on what's being said because it would be new, if it's a new language. If the language is English, try listening to something that would have new ideas. Try listening to the news. Do you like listening to songs? Do you have relatives who speak the language?

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