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C2 vs native speaker

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47 messages over 6 pages: 1 2 35 6  Next >>
patrickwilken
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Germany
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 Message 25 of 47
18 December 2013 at 11:03am | IP Logged 
I am never really sure what "native" means in these conversations.

I read yesterday that 20% of US citizens are functionally illiterate and another 30% are classified as having minimal reading ability. So if we were to say native ability in reading what would that mean in a US context?

None of these people would presumably be regarded as C2 in their own language. At least, they wouldn't be able to pass a written CEFR test, so at least in some cases native level language skills fall far below C2.

I think this makes the point that the CEFR levels are theoretical definitions of ability, while natives speak at all sorts of levels. I suspect that a fair few natives actually speak at C1-level in their language not at the C2-level.

It's not possible to speak at a level higher than C2, because C2 is defined as "mastery or proficiency" in the language. It's an idealized norm, and doesn't directly map to real world speakers of a language.

My long-term goal in German is to speak/read at the same level as the top 20% of natives, but I am still going to be C2 (and will have been for probably years before I reach that goal, if ever).

Edited by patrickwilken on 18 December 2013 at 11:26am

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Iversen
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 Message 26 of 47
18 December 2013 at 11:30am | IP Logged 
Subtle or not subtle, Lugubert (welcome back, by the way) has a point, namely that you can be exceedingly good on parameter and nothing to write home about on another. In this case it is the parameter written versus spoken languages which is relevant, but it could also be the parameter active versus passive. Modesty normally leads people to classify their languages after their weakest skill, but then the information about a high level on another set of parameters is lost.

And as PatrickWilken points out, so is information about a low level in for instance the reading and writing skills if you just accept 'native' as the top level on any skill. From an earlier thread I remember that the CEFR scales also include an evaluation of the ability to make logical and comprehensive statements in the target language. Logical? I can think of a fair number of my compatriots who can't even think in logical terms and even less formulate logical statements, and whose knowledge about the world mainly is restricted to American pop- and filmstars and the things their friends write on Facebook. How would they be classified on a written CEFR test where the judges can't hear them?

Edited by Iversen on 18 December 2013 at 11:42am

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Medulin
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 Message 27 of 47
18 December 2013 at 4:05pm | IP Logged 
There are people who have a C2 certificate who can't translate many everyday expressions like ''My shoelaces have come undone'' .
A translation test should be included in C1 and C2 tests, and the direction of the translation should be: from your L1 into the target language.

Edited by Medulin on 18 December 2013 at 4:08pm

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s_allard
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 Message 28 of 47
18 December 2013 at 5:24pm | IP Logged 
In my opinion, this debate got off on the wrong foot because there is the implicit assumption that the CEFR C2
and native proficiency are comparable levels on the same scale, as if native proficiency were a sort of C3 or C4..
This is fundamentally wrong. C2 cannot be compared to native proficiency.

First of all, keeping in mind its origins and purpose, the CEFR model, as a system of assessment of foreign
language skills, is strongly biased towards the educated user. When you get to the C-level, there is the
underlying assumption that you have a certain level of education and can handle relatively sophisticated topics.

Secondly, there is no scale of native proficiency. Native speakers have varying levls of education and these are
reflected in their linguistic skills. There are illeterate native speakers. But they are still native speakers. Many
native speakers may have difficulty passing a C2 or even a C1 examination. So what? Many educated native
adults would probably have difficulty passing secondary school examinations in certain subjects because it has
been many years since they have taken tests.

Thirdly, it should be pointed out that the CEFR does not mention phonetic proficiency. One has to be intelligible
and we can assume that accent improves as one goes up the scale, but there is no attempt to assess accent.

I mention this last point because one of the most striking differences between C2 level second language speakers
will probably be accent. C2 candidates are not graded on accent, and I doubt that any such candidates have an
accent close to native. On the other hand, native speakers will usually have an accent that indicates a regional
and or a social class origin.

But that is just part of the story. The fundamental difference between a native speaker and a C2-level foreigner is
not really so much linguistic as what I would call cultural. Being born, raised and educated in a language means
that you have encoded a vast store of experiences that the second language student can never match.

When two native speakers of approximately the same age and the same city or area meet, they will speak to each
other in a form of coded language that outsiders cannot understand because of the many implicit references that
the speakers use continuously. We all do this when we meet friends that we haven't seen in a long time. This is
why casual conversations in a room full of native speakers can be very challenging for even the very advanced
foreign speaker.

As an example of all this, all native speakers have quite a good knowledge of colloquial language and slang,
including vulgar, taboo, and obscene language, Everybody can swear in their language even though not
everybody does.   Much of this language is used in jokes and humour. How many C2 graduates can tell dirty jokes
in the language?

In sum, one can't compare native proficiency and C2 proficiency. They are apples and oranges.

Edited by s_allard on 18 December 2013 at 5:26pm

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tarvos
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 Message 29 of 47
18 December 2013 at 5:44pm | IP Logged 
Summa summarum, what does that concretely mean for this debate? That we are all wrong?
That we can't discuss it?
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albysky
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 Message 30 of 47
18 December 2013 at 6:13pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
In my opinion, this debate got off on the wrong foot because there is the implicit
assumption that the CEFR C2
and native proficiency are comparable levels on the same scale, as if native proficiency were a sort of C3
or C4..
This is fundamentally wrong. C2 cannot be compared to native proficiency.

First of all, keeping in mind its origins and purpose, the CEFR model, as a system of assessment of foreign
language skills, is strongly biased towards the educated user. When you get to the C-level, there is the
underlying assumption that you have a certain level of education and can handle relatively sophisticated
topics.

Secondly, there is no scale of native proficiency. Native speakers have varying levls of education and
these are
reflected in their linguistic skills. There are illeterate native speakers. But they are still native speakers.
Many
native speakers may have difficulty passing a C2 or even a C1 examination. So what? Many educated
native
adults would probably have difficulty passing secondary school examinations in certain subjects because
it has
been many years since they have taken tests.

Thirdly, it should be pointed out that the CEFR does not mention phonetic proficiency. One has to be
intelligible
and we can assume that accent improves as one goes up the scale, but there is no attempt to assess
accent.

I mention this last point because one of the most striking differences between C2 level second language
speakers
will probably be accent. C2 candidates are not graded on accent, and I doubt that any such candidates
have an
accent close to native. On the other hand, native speakers will usually have an accent that indicates a
regional
and or a social class origin.

But that is just part of the story. The fundamental difference between a native speaker and a C2-level
foreigner is
not really so much linguistic as what I would call cultural. Being born, raised and educated in a language
means
that you have encoded a vast store of experiences that the second language student can never match.

When two native speakers of approximately the same age and the same city or area meet, they will speak
to each
other in a form of coded language that outsiders cannot understand because of the many implicit
references that
the speakers use continuously. We all do this when we meet friends that we haven't seen in a long time.
This is
why casual conversations in a room full of native speakers can be very challenging for even the very
advanced
foreign speaker.

As an example of all this, all native speakers have quite a good knowledge of colloquial language and
slang,
including vulgar, taboo, and obscene language, Everybody can swear in their language even though not
everybody does.   Much of this language is used in jokes and humour. How many C2 graduates can tell
dirty jokes
in the language?



In sum, one can't compare native proficiency and C2 proficiency. They are apples and oranges.


I am inclined to think that you are right
2 persons have voted this message useful



Serpent
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Russian Federation
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 Message 31 of 47
18 December 2013 at 6:19pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
How many C2 graduates can tell dirty jokes in the language?
If you are comfortable with dirty jokes in your L1, you can start telling them at A1.
2 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
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Canada
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Studies: Polish

 
 Message 32 of 47
19 December 2013 at 5:16am | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
Summa summarum, what does that concretely mean for this debate? That we are all wrong?
That we can't discuss it?


Heavens to Betsey, please read what I wrote. I did not say that we are all wrong or that we can't discuss the topic. In
fact, I even pointed out what I think are major differences. The point that I tried to make is that we are talking about
two very different things phenomena. As long as we keep that in mind, we can discuss all we want.


3 persons have voted this message useful



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