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What’s the level Assimil can take you to?

 Language Learning Forum : Language Programs, Books & Tapes Post Reply
40 messages over 5 pages: 1 2 35  Next >>
Arekkusu
Hexaglot
Senior Member
Canada
bit.ly/qc_10_lec
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3971 posts - 7747 votes 
Speaks: English, French*, GermanC1, Spanish, Japanese, Esperanto
Studies: Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Estonian

 
 Message 25 of 40
02 February 2012 at 9:19pm | IP Logged 
MrScotchpie wrote:
I'm thinking of using Assimil for my Dutch studies which I have recently begun.

As for the CEFR standards I use a simple method for calculating the level a particular course will take you to.

To get a starting point, Richard Simcott has recently taken A1 in Turkish. On his blog he says that over the three months he studied for the exam he was exposed to approximately 2,000 words, but couldn't remember them all. As he is an accomplished and experienced language learner, let us assume he remembered 1,000. So as a starting point, 1,000 words equals a comfortable A1.

Moving up to B1, this is equivalent to a UK NQF level 2 exam, also called a GCSE in the school system. A GCSE/NQF 2 requires, or use to require, approcimately 2,000 - 3,000 words for a pass. So, to err on the side of safety, we will say 3,000 words equals B1.

Now let's go to B2. This exam is equivalent to a UK NQF level 3 exam, also called an "A-level", in the school system. A levels, or NQF 3, are taken at school or college as university entrance exams. A foreign language A level requires, or used to, approximately 3,000 to 4,000 words. So, to err on the side of safety, we will say 4,000 words equals B2.

We now have a convenient linear relationship between the levels and required words enabling us to fill in the missing A2.

A1 = 1,000
A2 = 2,000
B1 = 3,000
B2 = 4,000

A course such as Assimil or Teach Yourself with around 1,500 words puts a learner squarely between A1 and A2 on the CEFR scale.

It's an over-simplification to claim that word count alone will equate to a given level. 1,500 words and a comfortable grip on all the main grammar can go a long way, while many do little with several thousands of words, poor grammar and little speaking experience.
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MrScotchpie
Newbie
United Kingdom
Joined 4791 days ago

5 posts - 11 votes
Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 26 of 40
02 February 2012 at 9:54pm | IP Logged 
Quote:
It's an over-simplification to claim that word count alone will equate to a given level.


Completely agree but as I'm teaching my self and not using a CEFR course, I'm using this to give me a feel for when I might be ready to sit an exam if I decide to do so.
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Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Germany
learnlangs.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 6256 days ago

2608 posts - 4866 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Esperanto, Greek, Mandarin, Latin, Dutch, Italian
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Written), Swahili, Indonesian, Japanese, Modern Hebrew, Portuguese

 
 Message 27 of 40
02 February 2012 at 10:38pm | IP Logged 
Let's say that if this self-study course claims to lead you up to B2 and people routinely
fail the A2 exam after studying it, you'd see it pulled off the shelf for misleading
advertisement. At least in Germany there is such a law. And you don't actually need to
study the course to prove that, just compare the contents to the detailed requirements
for the CEFR-based exams.
Part of the purpose of having the CEFR is so that publishers can't redefine "fluent" or
"advanced" to fit the content of their courses.

Edited by Sprachprofi on 02 February 2012 at 10:39pm

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MrScotchpie
Newbie
United Kingdom
Joined 4791 days ago

5 posts - 11 votes
Studies: Japanese

 
 Message 28 of 40
02 February 2012 at 10:48pm | IP Logged 
Sprachprofi wrote:
Let's say that if this self-study course claims to lead you up to B2 and people routinely fail the A2 exam after studying it, you'd see it pulled off the shelf for misleading advertisement.


I don't think publishers are bothered. The Teach Yourself Complete Japanese I have only teaches around 800 words and 90 kanji yet blatantly claims on the cover that the book will take the reader from beginner to level B2 on the CEFR scale. With 800 words and 90 kanji!!!

I've contacted the publishers and the authorities but nothing happens. I've even emailed the European Council but they don't seem at all interested.

You cannot trust everything on the covers. That's why I think word counts are useful. You cannot mis-interpret them, either accidentally or intentionally.


Edited by MrScotchpie on 02 February 2012 at 10:53pm

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Sprachprofi
Nonaglot
Senior Member
Germany
learnlangs.comRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 6256 days ago

2608 posts - 4866 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, French, Esperanto, Greek, Mandarin, Latin, Dutch, Italian
Studies: Spanish, Arabic (Written), Swahili, Indonesian, Japanese, Modern Hebrew, Portuguese

 
 Message 29 of 40
02 February 2012 at 11:54pm | IP Logged 
Afaik there is no CEFR exam for Japanese, hence no clear guidelines. If they promised
to lead you up to JLPT 3 level, that would certainly earn them a lawsuit.

Word counts are nearly useless in my opinion.

For one thing, the necessary amount of words varies greatly from language to language.
As an extreme example, 500 Esperanto words are enough to form the equivalent of at
least 2500 English or French ones. But even in preparing lessons for Modern Greek I
find that the same touristy situations require a smaller vocabulary than they did in
the German lessons I created.

Also, as Arekkusu already said, you really have to look at WHICH words you're learning,
and which structures to go with them. If you have a vocabulary of 1000 words but it
includes all the words for various fruits, vegetables, animals, furniture and so on,
you're not better off than someone who only knows 500 words. A lot of courses teach you
words off thematic word lists like that (and I remember a Living Language Spanish
"course" that was almost nothing but) and it means you're so much worse off than
someone who is learning multiple-use words of the kind Michel Thomas teaches.
10 persons have voted this message useful



Random review
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5569 days ago

781 posts - 1310 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin, Yiddish, German

 
 Message 30 of 40
04 February 2012 at 11:50pm | IP Logged 
If I might add just one small point to this debate: most of my family has lived in
England since 1991 and my youngest sister did G.C.S.E German. I think I remember she got
a B. She certainly had nowhere near 2 to 3 thousand words, could only guess at cases
except in memorised phrases and knew much much less about German verbs than anyone who
spends 13 hours going through Michel Thomas. No matter what they claim I'll never believe
that a G.C.S.E is anywhere near B1. I did Standard Grade French and can confirm that (at
least back in the mid 90s) the Scottish system was still somewhat stronger, but even then
I wouldn't have tested B1- A2 just possibly. And then they wonder why we in the UK are so
bad at languages! It ought to be a national scandal.
1 person has voted this message useful



Elexi
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5351 days ago

938 posts - 1839 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 31 of 40
05 February 2012 at 12:11pm | IP Logged 
Here is the Oxford and Cambridge Exam board word list for GCSE - Perhaps you don't need
them all to pass the exam at A*, but if you SRS'd all of these you would have a pretty
good vocabulary. Certainly, one would be in the B1 range if the various French as a
foreign language books by CLE are to be trusted:

http://www.ocr.org.uk/download/sm/ocr_13550_sm_voc_list.pdf

Edited by Elexi on 05 February 2012 at 6:53pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Random review
Diglot
Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 5569 days ago

781 posts - 1310 votes 
Speaks: English*, Spanish
Studies: Portuguese, Mandarin, Yiddish, German

 
 Message 32 of 40
05 February 2012 at 1:59pm | IP Logged 
Possibly you might need them all for an A*, I don't know, but for a B (let alone a bare
pass!) you can get by with nowhere near that much...plus we all know there are
techniques
for school exams that can make it seem like you know more than you do (hence the fact
that grades have risen year on year). I don't think your average G.C.S.E would pass the
B1 exam (in fact I'm pretty sure they wouldn't); but I have no trouble accepting that
those with an A* probably would.

Edit: even a quick google search finds academics and experts dismissing the UK
government's claim that G.C.S.E is equivalent to B1 (e.g.
http://www.llas.ac.uk/resourcedownloads/2715/milton.pdf). Based on my own experience I
would tend to agree with statements like the following: "GCSE pass level in foreign
languages will be approximately a low A2. CILT [the National Centre for Languages] is
in the process of aligning the UK national language standards to the CEFR, but not on
the basis of any research…"

Edited by Random review on 05 February 2012 at 2:27pm



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