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Moving from B2 to C2

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Senior Member
United Kingdom
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Speaks: English*, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Norwegian, Dutch, Swedish, Italian
Studies: German, Danish, Russian, Catalan

 Message 25 of 177
16 February 2015 at 9:33pm | IP Logged 
I think that there are other ways to go from B2 to C2, just living like a native,
reading, writing, speaking, listening, but pretending that one has a native schedule,
or lives in the target language country. About tutoring, I personally prefer to do
things myself because any type of teacher setting in the past has not optimised my
ability, in fact I started getting serious about language learning only after I was
done with secondary school, the last time that I ever took formal language instruction
(Spanish, German, Mandarin). I only kept one from that list, and I went faster in a
few months than I did in all four years of Spanish with formal instruction.

If one lives in country, that helps immensely. B2 and in country raw is much better
than A1. A1 to C2 in country with no experience or expectation of what the language is
is like climbing Everest. B2 to C2 is probably like climbing some of the fjords
between Bergen and Voss in Norway.

Persoally I just prefer to do it myself, I am interested even in someday sitting that
C2 DELE exam with no tutor, but just doing things like a native would do to get to
that level. My university professors never had tutoring in English, nor did my
classmates as far as I know, and they speak (and write!) English better than some
native Anglophones.

Also there are personal circumstances, trying to balance tutor with an unexpected
family schedule might be a bit difficult, and financial. If you are a student even €30
a week is quite expensive. If you are €20000 in debt and are working to save from
losing your house, probably best to do things yourself and without hiring a tutor.

I must add that using the target language as a means instead of consciously using it
as formal practise helps: I like to write in forums and on websites in target
languages about topics that are of interest to me. This can be done at B2 (I actually
think that it can be done at B1 as a start), but the difference between writing/typing
on topics is that it is not formal practise in terms of drilling verb tenses or cases
or whatever, but rather you write your thoughts and are focussed more on the thoughts
being communicated well instead of worrying about how many marks what you write would
receive were it an assignment.

What really helped me in higher levels is the usual pseudo-immersion: Mobile phone in
target language(s), television and radio only in target languages, writing personal
notes and reminders in target languages, books and newspapers in target languages.

An example is that when I live in the USA, if I need to call the USPS (Royal Mail
equivalent), I choose the Spanish option on the phone, not the English one.

Edited by 1e4e6 on 16 February 2015 at 10:39pm

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Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3414 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 26 of 177
16 February 2015 at 9:47pm | IP Logged 
My largest argument against tutors is not ridiculous. It is called experience. Even my
most recent experience left me with conflicting impressions. I still don't know result
of the exam but I can surely tell you I don't feel like I progressed as much as I had
hoped to.

Those exercises like reading out loud or listening to something and speaking about it,
we did each once, and it wasn't my idea. I easily proved there was nothing
to improve this way as my learning with tons of input took care about it. Really, such
things are waste of your paid time at this level, keep that for your beginner

A good exercise is dictation, but you can get such exercises (basically slower audio
and text to compare yours to) online for free if you search around a bit.

About Writing. Yes, I got some corrections but not as many as I had hoped to. My
mistakes come usually from lack of focus on the detail, especially when I don't have
the time. What would have helped would be much more practice on my own but that was
unfortunately not achievable under the conditiones. I think my preparation for the
exam would have been different had the French decided not to make both exam dates
collide with the university exams.

I got some grammar corrections (but 99,9% on things I know but just forget in stress
and first drafts, such as forgetting to write the last letter. That is a huge mistake
but nothing your tutor can change, you just need to write much more and read after
yourself) and a few ideas on how to say things better but not that many. Some tutors
just won't be nitpicky enough, because they are used to vast majority of learners who
prefer to be complimented too much or because most of their other students
speaks/writes worse than the advanced one. And a bad thing, he didn't want to read the
few articles my writing was usually based on to let me know whether I was getting out
of topic or not, or whether I was too close to the original articles (which is
something of utmost importance for the Frech exams).

The phrasing corrections: useful but most of my mistakes of sounding unnatural came
from the exam requisit not to repeat phrases from the original articles I draw content
from. It's hard to find a better wording than the ideal one that you are forbidden to
use. Fortunately, this was less of an issue at the exam as the task I got gave me much
more freedom of expression than the exemple tasks in my preparatory coursebook.

About speaking. I got better during the first hour or perhaps two, just as I get
better when speakin with any native for a longer time after half a year of not
speaking at all. After that? I got a few corrections of mistakes caused by lack of
focus, sleep deprivation and stress. No systematic deal braking mistake found.

And there is one last bit I found important. Just as the people who do not work
outside their classes, I have much less of a drive when I am being taught by a tutor.
Subconsciously, I settle for the homework, especially when I don't have much spare
time, and I don't push myself the same way I do when I have the intensive weeks or
months on my own from time to time.

I think the whole two or three months would have been totally different, if the exam
took place in November, July, April, September... Any month expcept for February or
June. Preparing myself for exams at the medical faculty, for this, catching cold,
having totally broken sleep rhytm and so on, that is not a good combination.

Information about the exam itself is in my log. I have no clue whether I have passed
or not but I usually don't have a clue when it comes to exams.

Edited by Cavesa on 16 February 2015 at 9:51pm

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Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 5002 days ago

9753 posts - 15777 votes 
4 sounds
Speaks: Russian*, English, FinnishC1, Latin, German, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese
Studies: Danish, Romanian, Polish, Belarusian, Ukrainian, Croatian, Slovenian, Catalan, Czech, Galician, Dutch, Swedish

 Message 27 of 177
16 February 2015 at 9:58pm | IP Logged 
(I'm sorry if I offended those of you who teach. To me paying to have conversations in L2 is simply as awkward as paying to have them in L1. That's probably my insecurity too.)

Edited by Serpent on 16 February 2015 at 9:58pm

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Bilingual Triglot
Senior Member
Joined 2549 days ago

949 posts - 1686 votes 
Speaks: French*, English*, Spanish
Studies: Tagalog

 Message 28 of 177
16 February 2015 at 10:32pm | IP Logged 
Not at all offended! :) I pay a teacher for conversational Spanish lessons, but I'm not paying her to talk to me - I'm
paying her to correct me and to push me out of my comfort zone. Honestly, I think that one big problem is simply
that there are too many teachers out there who simply have no business being teachers. A bad language teacher is
much worse than no language teacher at all!

This thread is definitely of interest to me. My Spanish is currently hovering somewhere at the top end of a B2 level,
based on feedback from my newest tutor (who is also a DELE examiner). During our next session, we're going to iron
out a plan of attack for the DELE C1 test in November. I expect that it will consist of:

- lots of continued exposure to the language and culture through informal conversation, novels, non-fiction texts,
movies, documentaries and TV shows
- systematic writing practise with in-depth corrections
- targeted grammar instruction and practise based on problems that crop up during speech or writing
- higher-level conversation, using books, articles and documentaries as a springboard for discussion
- mock tests (for test-taking strategies - not necessary, of course, unless you're actually taking a test!)

I think that C1 is possible without full immersion. But I'm not sure that a person could reach a true C2 level in a
language without extended immersion.
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Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3414 days ago

3277 posts - 6778 votes 
Speaks: Czech*, FrenchC2, EnglishC1
Studies: Spanish, German, Italian

 Message 29 of 177
16 February 2015 at 11:11pm | IP Logged 
My tutor isn't bad in general at all. The thing is that despite having prepared people
for many exams and job interviews to high positions in francophone companies etc, I
found out after a month he hadn't prepared anyone for the DALF C2. That is a problem.
And in general, there are very few tutors who have. Look at the offers, everyone is
targetting the beginners and intermediates. The examinators usually teach in the group
classes, because they get more money. And the classes are useless (confirmed by
another bunch of candidates waiting for their exam with me and many others before) as
they do not give you what you need to the most. The individual feedback.

So, if I failed (I have really no clue), it may be possible that I shouldn't have
listened to his advice about my level. However, I am trully convinced DALF C1 is in
many ways more difficult than C2, especially when it comes to writing. So, I will
eventually retake C2.

C2 exams do not test whether you are indistinguishible from a native, nearly noone is,
even many of those who've lived in the country for decades are far from that. It is
more about functional capacities with appropriate forms, grammar, vocab, etc.
True C2 level is, despite the popular believe, defined by those exams. Yes, there are
many skills the C2 exam doesn't test at all and, on the other hand, some exam pieces
are so weird that a native wouldn't find them easy at all (this is not a speculation.
the French do similar tasks to the writing ones in Lycee and many are glad to have
barely crawled through the classes and keep having nightmares about Syntheses for
years). This difference between a C2 certified learner and a native lowers the
necesity of a long stay in the country significantly, in my opinion.

One of the reasons why I believe I can pass a C2 exam without living in the country is
knowing others who passed like that.
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Senior Member
United States
Joined 3464 days ago

361 posts - 921 votes 
Speaks: Portuguese, English*, German, Italian, Spanish, Dutch, Swedish, Esperanto, French
Studies: Mandarin, Danish, Russian, Norwegian, Cantonese, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Greek, Latin, Nepali, Modern Hebrew

 Message 30 of 177
16 February 2015 at 11:51pm | IP Logged 
james29 wrote:

How is the most efficient way of doing it for folks like me who don't have the opportunity to speak with native
speakers very often?

Or, for folks (also like me) who cannot spend much more than 60 minutes a day on their language?

You don't need to speak with native speakers. You need to listen to native speakers and speak with anyone.

Most native speakers will not correct you, and even when they do it doesn't help learners in general (although, of
course, there are specific times when it can help). You need to speak so that it comes naturally and fluently when
it counts, but there doesn't have to be a native speaker listening.

60 minutes a day should be enough to reach C2 eventually... I don't think you learn quite 10 times faster if you
spend all day.

Edited by robarb on 16 February 2015 at 11:52pm

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Joined 2622 days ago

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Speaks: German*, English, Russian
Studies: Mandarin

 Message 31 of 177
17 February 2015 at 3:49am | IP Logged 
Regarding the tutoring discussion, I agree that many tutors will prefer to just compliment you instead of sternly correcting your mistakes. Reading, listening and chatting can just as well be done in conversation exchange.

However, one area where a tutor can definitely help is correcting writing. A good teacher will tell you for instance that you cannot use this word in this context, in should rather be word B. Afterwards he will proceed to list examples for word A to clarify the usage.

Frankly, I am unable to wrap my head around how a student is supposed to acquire this knowledge without professional help. The vast majority of language exchange partners will not provide this kind of assistance.

Further, it boggles my mind even more how you can improve these things by just writing. Some people have suggested writing a journal, or writing in a target language forum. While I agree that this will surely help, I doubt that anybody in these forums is willing to give corrections.

Even huge amounts of input will not necessarily help to eliminate all mistakes. Speaking from personal experience, I have read quite a lot in English, from all kinds of sources, but only recently I stumbled onto the fact that "compared to" and "compared with" are not equivalent in meaning.

Thus I am asking genuinely, as a not experienced language learner, how are you supposed to notice these small differences in meaning between near synonyms? While a tutor might not be necessary, he can significantly accelerate the process.
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Senior Member
Joined 3835 days ago

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Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 Message 32 of 177
17 February 2015 at 4:02am | IP Logged 
Maybe we can put this tutoring question to bed. It's not a magic solution; it's simply a resource or a
tool in a toolbox. Tutoring is not a necessity. If you don't like it or it doesn't work for you, then don't
do it.

The real issue is determining what works. The question isn't whether 60 minutes a day is enough, it's
really what you do with those 60 minutes. What's the plan? An hour a day in a non-immersive
environment is not much. In fact, I believe that this will not be enough to make a big difference in
productive skills.

A different approach is to outline how much material you have to cover from your current starting
point. One has to start off by making an honest assessment: where am I now and where do I want to
go? I recommend that people should reading the guidelines for C1 and C2 exams to get a sense of
what the requirements are. It's pretty scary stuff.

So, you want to get to C2 in two years. Let's see what you have to do to get there.

One goal would be to work your way through one or two grammar books in the native language. You
may want to aim for at least a solid 5,000 word receptive vocabulary using an SRS program like Anki. A
theme dear to my heart is constant review and drilling of the 500 - 1000 most important words.

A listening program would consist of a mix of fiction and non-fiction. Let's say a minimum of two
hours a week.

A reading program could be something like one novel a month, a newspaper or magazine article every
day. For writing, you could start out with one page a week and ramp it up to four or five pages at some

For speaking, you want to have some kind of real interaction with native speakers. I would say at least
a couple of hours a week.

There's a lot of work here because all of the above activities imply a lot of homework and study.
Reading a book means looking up tons of words in a dictionary and studying points of grammar.
Writing has to be corrected. Speaking fluently and correctly with good accent doesn't happen quickly.

As I have stated loud and clear, doing this all on your own to very high levels in a non-immersive
environment and without the guidance of a good tutor is, in my opinion, very difficult, if not

Edited by s_allard on 17 February 2015 at 6:27am

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