I lived 3 years in Mexico, and for my first 9 months there I attended daily Spanish courses. By now, I am very comfortable with conversational Spanish. But I feel I've reached a plateau.

This isn't helped by no longer living in a Spanish-speaking country.

What are proven methods for improving to an advanced level of proficiency when not immersed in your target language?

  • I've been pondering this question for 2 weeks now... not quite sure if it fits here, or how to phrase it. Please help me improve this question.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 2:09
  • What I am wondering: 1. Was this your first experience learning Spanish? 2. Where do you live now? 3. What are you doing now to maintain your skill? 4. Define "proficiency" compared with your current skill level. Where you are and where you want to be, specifically.
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 2:41
  • I'd reckon that even passive exposure has immense effects. When I taught English at a high-school, my best students were those who played lots of computer games and those who watched lots of movies; prior to the digital era, similar effects were observed with reading.
    – Ansa211
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 18:21
  • @user3169: I had studied Spanish in school, years prior to living in Mexico, but had forgotten practically everything. 2. Amsterdam. 3. I'm probably at ILR 2 or 3, and would love to reach 4.
    – Flimzy
    Commented Apr 24, 2016 at 20:27
  • Could you edit your question with these details?
    – user3169
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 0:29

2 Answers 2


The advice for most people in your situation is try something different, to broaden your overall knowledge of the language.

From the sound of it, your strength is in speaking, and perhaps to a lesser extent, listening. That suggests that you are "relatively" weak in reading and writing. In that case, try your hand at say, reading, and by this, I mean poetry or advanced texts, not childrens' stories, or even the newspaper.

You probably have a good grasp of "everyday" vocabulary, For all I know, you may already be at a level of IL4 in "conversation," while having an IL2 ability level in reading specialized vocabulary, for a "blended" IL3 level. If you want to reach the IL4 level in reading and overall, and become a "translator," buy a Spanish language version of an English novel, translate the English version into Spanish, and compare your version with the "original" translation. Or buy yourself a Spanish copy of Samuelson's Economia, and learn about "la ley de oferta y demanda" (the law of supply and demand), and "la teoria de la ventaja comparativa" (the theory of comparative advantage).

I have the opposite problem. I learned to read Spanish, and can read (and to a lesser extent, write) at a "university" level, in math, economics, politics, history, etc. What is my weakness? The everyday stuff that every ten or even five year old knows. The cure for my issue is that I need to "get out" more and talk to people on an every day basis. That is, I may be at an IL4 level in "reading" and an IL2 level (or worse) in other areas for a blended rating of say, IL2.


Join a conversation group

Universities, study institutions and even private organisations have conversation groups where you can use your language skills to converse with others, over a Skype call, messaging or just in person.

There's not a specific format for this kind of discourse, but often it varies. You can converse with learners at the same level as yourself, or perhaps with a native speaker (as they might be learning your language).

There's a whole bunch of websites for this kind of thing: for example.

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