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At what level do you say you speak?

  Tags: Fluency | Speaking
 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
Poll Question: When do you claim to "speak" a language on this forum?
Poll Choice Votes Poll Statistics
0 [0.00%]
3 [3.00%]
5 [5.00%]
70 [70.00%]
22 [22.00%]
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63 messages over 8 pages: 1 2 3 46 7 8 Next >>
tastyonions
Triglot
Senior Member
United States
goo.gl/UIdChYRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2798 days ago

1044 posts - 1823 votes 
Speaks: English*, French, Spanish
Studies: Italian

 
 Message 33 of 63
01 July 2012 at 12:08am | IP Logged 
Personally, the absolute hardest things for me to understand so far have been (1) standup comedy (2) radio shows where there are 3+ speakers all joining into a conversation at random. I still get basically nothing out of either.
2 persons have voted this message useful



sillygoose1
Tetraglot
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2769 days ago

566 posts - 814 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, Spanish, French
Studies: German, Latin

 
 Message 34 of 63
01 July 2012 at 12:11am | IP Logged 
Do you think it could be said that a With Ease/Sans Peine accompanied with a Perfectionnement and sharedtalk/lang-8 can get someone to a B2? I just ask because when I first discovered levels on this forum, I did extensive searching and it was said that those two courses could get someone to B2, which seems to be the majority vote here for being able to "speak" a language.

Edited by sillygoose1 on 01 July 2012 at 12:12am

1 person has voted this message useful



Kyle Corrie
Senior Member
United States
Joined 2962 days ago

175 posts - 464 votes 

 
 Message 35 of 63
01 July 2012 at 12:23am | IP Logged 
Wulfgar wrote:
Don't get me wrong - I liked your post. But I just wanted to say that
the natives I communicate with constantly determine my level is much higher than it
really is.


If you ask a native how good you are or mention in anyway that you're not that good
then it's only natural for them to respond with something along the lines of, "No!
You're great!" or some other encouraging comment.

But consider if you were to approach a child. Your language adjusts to their level.
Consciously or not. Or if you also approach a familiar group of people who have a more
regressed abilitity with language; then again your pattern will usually change to
accomodate and blend in.

That's what I meant by adjusting.

Flarioca wrote:
Some native speakers are illiterates, how will they evaluate my
writing skills?


What I said was, "[...] the native with whom you are communicating with at that moment
[..]

Now, you couldn't be communicating with them via writing in the first place, now would
you? I carefully chose the verb 'to communicate' specifically to avoid such a response.
Very clever.

Flarioca wrote:
I think we all know quite well that this is unlikely to ever happen
for most of us.


Correct. You may very well never reach that same level. But the person who strives for
that goal longer without meeting it will undoubtedly be better than the person who
simply gave up on it as an unattainable task.

But now ask yourself - Are you really spending all this time learning merely so you can
tell some stranger or impress some forum member by claiming you can "speak" X? If you
are I'm sorry. If not - then it shouldn't even matter.

---------------------------------------------

A lot of people seem to be misunderstanding me and some even taking offense. I'll
clarify even further.

Practically any typical person doesn't fully understand the varying levels of speaking
abilities. So their only frame of reference is what they can do and as a native. To
them, that is speaking.

They have no trouble expressing themselves. They have (practically) no trouble
utilizing varying tenses. Typically no trouble with declinations and so on. You get the
idea.

So when you tell someone you can "speak" a language then that is their frame of mind.

That is where I draw fault with the term "speak". You shouldn't be telling anyone you
can "speak" a language unless you can satisfy their only understanding of what that
really is.

I only have a problem with the term "speak". Now, tell people you've been "studying"
the language. Tell them you're "familiar" with the language. Tell them you "practice"
it. Things of that nature. But if you tell them you "speak" the language then they can
only rationalize how they can perform with their mother tongue.

Describing your ability in this way makes them aware you have at least some ability
with "X" language, which can then be turned in to helping them, giving various advice,
whatever.

---------------------------------------------

I also mentioned I'd have no quarrel with people listing actual certification of their
languages because then you are able to establish that level according to the guidelines
according to whoever administered the test.

Of course this would need to be an actual passed exam rather than simply guessing your
own level.

---------------------------------------------

I do understand that a lot of people enjoy telling others that they speak 'X, X, X, X,
X, and X' because they like the 'wow factor' that comes along with being able to do
something someone else can't.

---------------------------------------------

But again... the post asked to give your opinion. I gave mine. That's all it is - just
an opinion. List all the languages you want or memorize scripts and make your own
multilingual polyglot videos like others on YouTube. It won't impact me in the
slightest and I'll keep progressing according to my own goals.

Edited by Kyle Corrie on 01 July 2012 at 12:31am

4 persons have voted this message useful





songlines
Pro Member
Canada
flickr.com/photos/cp
Joined 3342 days ago

729 posts - 1056 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: French
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 36 of 63
01 July 2012 at 12:24am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:
emk wrote:
The only thing worse than movies, in my experience, is fast, informal
conversations between multiple native speakers who know each other well.
That's reassuring :)
Whenever I can't understand a conversation like that I start to doubt my fluency. Maybe my standards are just
unnecessarily high.


Nope, your standards aren't too high; From an oft-quoted, much-voted-for thread re. the FSI document,
"Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and practice in government language teaching" http://how-to-learn-
any-language.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=23446 (copy and paste, removing any spaces inserted by forum
software):

Quote:
Lesson 10. Conversation, which on the surface appears to be one of the most basic forms of
communication, is actually one of the hardest to master.
.

And re. the original question, I'm not (yet) at the level where I would change my HTLAL status to "speaks".
Perhaps when I reach B2...?



Edited by songlines on 01 July 2012 at 12:27am

1 person has voted this message useful



Umin
Triglot
Newbie
Germany
despairedreading.worRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 2680 days ago

37 posts - 52 votes 
Speaks: German*, EnglishC2, Japanese
Studies: French, Mandarin

 
 Message 37 of 63
01 July 2012 at 12:38am | IP Logged 
emk wrote:
Movies and TV are nice, but a
whole lot less important to me. I mean, I like watching Buffy, but I need
to understand fairly complicated one-on-one conversations.

I've got to say, movies/TV also often seem like a kind of special case to me. For many movies and TV series, what
you need are hearing rather than listening skills. By that I mean, if there's something you don't understand, it might
be not because you lack vocabulary and comprehension, but because you just couldn't hear it well enough.
I have that problem with quite some movies and series and that's why I often turn subtitles on (usually only in the
language the movie is in though). I'd do the same for my mother tongue as well.

Edited by Umin on 01 July 2012 at 12:39am

1 person has voted this message useful



tractor
Tetraglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 3586 days ago

1349 posts - 2292 votes 
Speaks: Norwegian*, English, Spanish, Catalan
Studies: French, German, Latin

 
 Message 38 of 63
01 July 2012 at 1:40am | IP Logged 
Kyle Corrie wrote:
Practically any typical person doesn't fully understand the varying levels of speaking
abilities. So their only frame of reference is what they can do and as a native. To them, that is speaking.

Do you really mean this?
2 persons have voted this message useful





emk
Diglot
Moderator
United States
Joined 3665 days ago

2615 posts - 8805 votes 
Speaks: English*, FrenchB2
Studies: Spanish, Ancient Egyptian
Personal Language Map

 
 Message 39 of 63
01 July 2012 at 2:01am | IP Logged 
sillygoose1 wrote:
Do you think it could be said that a With Ease/Sans Peine
accompanied with a Perfectionnement and sharedtalk/lang-8 can get someone to a B2?


I think if you did Assimil Business French thoroughly, posted all the writing exercises
at lang-8, and practiced debating business subjects on SharedTalk (a lot), you'd have a
pretty good chance of passing the DELF B2 Pro. But that's because the DELF B2 Pro
covers a fairly limited set of topics compared to the DELF B2 TP. You'd basically have
B2-level skills at work and huge gaping holes everywhere else.

That's the big headache as you get near B2: you're generally capable of communicating,
but you have all these nasty little vocabulary holes. Given 30 minutes, no dictionary
and no notes, can you give a coherent 10-minute presentation on teen drug addiction?
Single-sex high schools? The pros and cons of congestion charges in downtown Paris?
Nobody's asking you to be brilliant, but you do have to summarize a debate, present an
argument, back it up with examples, and then answer questions. ("So you don't agree
with the scientists quoted in this text. Why not?")

I think Assimil's advanced courses can certainly help you get there. But at the very
least, you also need to read the newspaper, speak a bunch, and practice writing.

songlines wrote:
Nope, your standards aren't too high; From an oft-quoted, much-
voted-for thread re. the FSI document, "Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and
practice in government language teaching" ...:

Quote:
Lesson 10. Conversation, which on the surface appears to be one of the most
basic forms of communication, is actually one of the hardest to master.
.


Conversation is one of the easiest and one of the hardest skills, I suspect. If
all you want is one-on-one interaction, some people will get "conversational" somewhere
around a strong A2. But if you want to seamlessly interact with a group of native
speakers without slowly them down, well, that's a whole different beast. I certainly
can't do it yet.
1 person has voted this message useful



atama warui
Triglot
Senior Member
Japan
Joined 2834 days ago

594 posts - 985 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, Japanese

 
 Message 40 of 63
01 July 2012 at 3:38am | IP Logged 
The reason for me to chose the C-levels instead of the B-levels is, that the question in the OP is not directed at my opinion on what I think it means to be able to speak.

Let me break this probably confusing line down a bit.

When I registered here, I claimed to be B1 in Japanese and speak English. I still speak English; my Japanese will probably have reached something protty close to B2 (but not quite B2 yet, as I lack some vocabulary to express my opinion 100% of the time. Mind you, I don't include "in 100% the style I'd like to do it" in that sentence.

For me, being able to speak a language means, I can get around 100% of the time among natives of that language; not error-free; not eloquently, but comprehensible without effort. I need to be able to understand normal speech without an extra effort of my partner to approach my level to "achieve communication compatibility".

Well.

The "I speak" category on HTLAL is something different.

When you categorize yourself as a speaker of a language, I'd expect you to be able to give advice not to be taken with a truck of salt - a grain should suffice.
As a learner, you can pass on your experiences, you can give some advice, but the difference in authority between a speaker and a learner are significant.

I can chat about most topics even with people I don't know at all and not get a nervous breakdown in Japanese.
I can follow most TV shows without wondering what's going on (aside from some cultural references I can't possibly know, because I may have missed this and that event during the past 20 years, being the background for a pun / joke etc).
I can answer a lot of questions about the language, the people, the culture.

But I wouldn't claim to be able to do all of this at some expert level.

That's why I voted "C1-C2".

My rather sarcastic comment that "now I know better" has to be read in this context. I think people sometimes shoot first and ask questions later (myself included), but a lot make whatever it was they wrote sound like _the_truth_, when really it was just their somewhat educated (B1? B2? now you can tell by reading this thread) guess.


1 person has voted this message useful



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