Register  Login  Active Topics  Maps  

Moving from B2 to C2

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
177 messages over 23 pages: << Previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 ... 10 ... 22 23 Next >>
Cavesa
Triglot
Senior Member
Czech Republic
Joined 3197 days ago

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

 
 Message 73 of 177
19 February 2015 at 4:48pm | IP Logged 
Garyb, I'd say the main difference is the second point you mentioned. You speak French
with learners, many of which are probably worse than you are, while you use Italian
with natives.

I noticed a similar effect on my English. I tend to get closer to the level of the
person I am speaking with after a while, and certainly faster than I'd expect. So, it
appears fairly logical that regular contact with native Italians and French learners
might lead to varying level in each of the languages.

I don't think the conventional wisdom about "better small pieces daily than larger
once a week" necessarily applies to all the learners and activities. I learn better
with more intensive larger doses of series/gramamr/conversation/whatever as I get more
immersed. You however, might be an exemple of the other side of the scale and I thank
you for the example. Your success with the smaller pieces every day is a good
motivation for me to keep trying to adhere to this ideal, despite my struggles.

Well, about the miracles. I learnt nearly all my English from a text based multiplayer
game and tv series. It wasn't a miracle, it was actually lots of efforts. Lots of
mistakes at first, lots and lots of confused moments at first. Writing corrections
only from natives. And lots of motivation. No miracle here.

And of course it is another exemple where I'm obviously gonna "disparage" at least the
first four years of English classes because the only things I got there were
frustration, stress, crying, psychosomatic nauseas and prayers for the teacher of hell
to die or at least get ill for a few weeks so that I wouldn't have to listen to her
shouting for several hours a week, most often at me (for reasons like writing a word
on another page in the notebook than she ordered), or sometimes even making fun of me
(for exemple for repeatedly making a mistake in a word I had heard only once).

I don't disparage value I got from teachers. The simple fact is that most teachers
didn't provide me with any value, they were more of an obstacle than help. Some were
not bad per se, just working for a badly designed system. But some of them harmed my
learning and some even harmed the quality of my life back then. So, of course I have
mostly distrust for vast majority of teachers. Having personally tried almost thirty,
I don't think my distrust is without founding.

And that's why my learning and progress turned so different since I found many more
ways to learn independently. I became free. And htlal has been an important part of
it.

So, despite already claiming several times that I've only been advising anyone to be
cautious and to use your brain when using a tutor (never forget you are the one who
pays and decides in the end), I get accused, in the end, of claiming miracles and
disparaging the part others took in my success. Really, where is the point?
4 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3618 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 74 of 177
20 February 2015 at 5:13am | IP Logged 
I wish I could claim to have learned English from a video game. It would be so cool and sexy.
Unfortunately for me, my present skills were acquired in a very prosaic way. Like all Canadian children I
studied English in school starting at age 10. I don't have such terrible memories of my teachers. Some
were good, some were great, most were in between. But I have to say that for most of my lower school
years I was more interested in the girls and playing football. Thus, I don't have a chip on my shoulder
or harp about teachers ; they weren't the problem, I was.

I must have learned something because I didn't fail any classes. It may be questionable what I retained,
but I certainly did learn some English. Everything changed when I attended university in English. What
was interesting there was realizing how much English I had learned previously; it was just a question of
making it active and enhancing it when I had to use it.

The two classes that made my English really progress were a literature class where I had to read and
discuss a book a week and a professional writing class where I had to write at least a page a day for
correction by our teacher. These two experiences have led me to believe that corrective feedback is a
key technique for proficiency improvement.

I feel that working with my tutor has been the most important factor in the noticeable improvement of
my spoken and written Spanish. Just today in our session, we corrected the 32nd letter that I had
written in Spanish. I love having my mistakes pointed out to me because they tell me what to work on
to avoid making these mistakes in the future.

The tutor today made two interesting remarks. Firstly, my mistakes were becoming fewer and fewer
and that I was writing much faster. This I thought was to be expected and was the result of writing 32
letters. But the most intriguing remark was that my letters were starting to sound like something that
a native would write and that the mistakes I made could have been made by native speakers.

I write all this because I believe that it is impossible to learn to speak and write a language well by
oneself. I'm sure I learned something from all the teachers that I have had even though I wasn't
interested most of the time. When I finally became interested in learning the language it was the
feedback from all the people around me, especially the teachers and tutors that made a big difference.

Edited by s_allard on 20 February 2015 at 5:15am

2 persons have voted this message useful



hrhenry
Octoglot
Senior Member
United States
languagehopper.blogs
Joined 3318 days ago

1871 posts - 3641 votes 
Speaks: English*, SpanishC2, ItalianC2, Norwegian, Catalan, Galician, Turkish, Portuguese
Studies: Polish, Indonesian, Ojibwe

 
 Message 75 of 177
20 February 2015 at 5:30am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
What was interesting there was realizing how much English I had learned previously; it was just a question of making it active and enhancing it when I had to use it.

I think this is key, really, and something that most of us here on HTLAL tend to downplay.

We've all had bad teachers here and there, but managed to get through our class(es) relatively unscathed. If a person gets a "C" in a class, then complains that they didn't learn anything, I tend to doubt it, especially if the student is interested in the subject, as we all are in languages here.

R.
==
1 person has voted this message useful



Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4770 days ago

2314 posts - 5695 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 76 of 177
20 February 2015 at 8:39am | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
I write all this because I believe that it is impossible to learn to speak and write a language well by oneself.

I don't, for what it's worth, even if we take "well" to mean C2, since that's what this thread is about and I know you have very high standards.

I know from personal experience that it's possible to get a language to at least B1 on your own. I'm not going to take English as an example here, since I've had formal schooling in it. Nor French. However, my Spanish was definitely at B1 the first time I opened my mouth, as were my Portuguese and my Mandarin. When I arrived in China, my sifu said "You're the first person I've met that could speak Mandarin when stepping out of the plane". Previous to this, I'd had one (1) exchange in Mandarin with another person, on a stopover in Singapore in my early learning carreer, and it was just a few sentences and I failed completely to make myself understood.

So up to B1 it's certainly possible. As for the rest of the way to C2, I know that my English was probably at B2 when I stopped schooling. After this I've had no formal instruction, no tutors, but yes, a lot of interaction. Here's where it gets a bit tricky. It's not very probable that a person would spend all that time taking their language to C2 without ever trying to use it. It's hardly surprising that you find that people who speak a language well has used it: that's why they learned the language in the first place! You're not likely to find a person who has put in thousands of hours into learning a language yet never tried to use it with another human being.

So I do think it's possible to get to a very high level on your own, but it's not very likely. So the discussion is probably pointless since it's a severely hypothetical scenario. However, does one have to actively seek out tutors and try to interact as much as possible, get corrections and pointers, etc., to get to a high level? That's a more fruitful discussion.
7 persons have voted this message useful



s_allard
Triglot
Senior Member
Canada
Joined 3618 days ago

2704 posts - 5424 votes 
Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 
 Message 77 of 177
20 February 2015 at 3:08pm | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
...

So I do think it's possible to get to a very high level on your own, but it's not very likely. So the
discussion is probably pointless since it's a severely hypothetical scenario. However, does one have to
actively seek out tutors and try to interact as much as possible, get corrections and pointers, etc., to
get to a high level? That's a more fruitful discussion.

This is a good point. What is there to discuss? The OP has asked the question about going from B to C,
and we are all trying to give advice. I think that the advice given so far is all good: more input, more
writing, more reading, more interaction with native speakers, etc.

I brought up the idea of using a good professional tutor, especially for exam preparation. I won't
repeat the arguments in favour but no one, including myself, has said that a tutor is absolutely
necessary. If you can do without one, then that's great. I have always said: Do what works for you.

A basic theme in my approach is the importance of having one's output, writing or speaking,
corrected. The basic premise is that as learners we start out making lots of mistakes and progressively
eliminate them as our proficiency increases.

We can do much or all of this alone. Great. But the reason most people appreciate some kind of
external help is that it is so much efficient. If I write a 500-word e-mail in my target language, how do
I know that everything is correct? I can maybe wait a few days and then carefully go over it until I am
satisfied. Plus, my computer has spellcheck. Will that work? Maybe.

The alternative is to have somebody look at it. This person may be a spouse, boyfriend, girlfriend,
colleague, teacher or a tutor. The point is that somebody else will see things that I don't see. If this
person is knowledgeable and patient, this correction can become a teaching moment. And you the
student can see what has to be improved.

I think this kind of external aid is particularly important at the highest levels of proficiency because of
the level of sophistication necessary. I've had said this before and will say it again: if you are preparing
for a C2 exam or a crucial interview where performance is of the utmost performance, you would be
crazy not to get some help.

Let's say that this exam requires that you write a 700-word essay, I would assume that you have
practiced writing such essays before coming to the exam. Wouldn't it make sense to have these essays
corrected by a knowledgeable native speaker? Wouldn't it be great to discuss details of meaning,
proper word usage, idiomatic usage, alternative wordings? Wouldn't that make you more confident
going into the exam knowing that you can handle anything thrown at you because you've had lots of
practice.

It's the same with speaking. We all know that people are usually too polite to correct adults. So, how
can I improve if nobody corrects me? Well, I can record my voice and compare the recording to that of
a native speaker. Great idea. So, my pronunciation is not bad. But what about actually interacting with
a native speaker? I have all these words swirling around in my head, but the challenge is to make them
come out of my mouth in an intelligible fashion. If it were as simple as watching enough television and
spontaneously speaking just like one of the actors, we wouldn't be having this discussion.

This whole thing reminds of the debate whether it's necessary to spend any time in the country where
the language is spoken in order to become very proficient. I sure many people will argue no. I agree,
it's not necessary. But it's so much more fun, interesting and efficient to be in an environment where
you are constantly bombarded by the language.

Edited by s_allard on 20 February 2015 at 3:36pm

4 persons have voted this message useful



garyb
Triglot
Senior Member
ScotlandRegistered users can see my Skype Name
Joined 3395 days ago

1468 posts - 2411 votes 
Speaks: English*, Italian, French
Studies: Spanish

 
 Message 78 of 177
20 February 2015 at 4:14pm | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
Garyb, I'd say the main difference is the second point you mentioned.
You speak French
with learners, many of which are probably worse than you are, while you use Italian
with natives.

I noticed a similar effect on my English. I tend to get closer to the level of the
person I am speaking with after a while, and certainly faster than I'd expect. So, it
appears fairly logical that regular contact with native Italians and French learners
might lead to varying level in each of the languages.


I wrote a more lengthy reply on this and my situation on my log; feel free to
read if you're curious, but I don't want to clutter up this post with things specific
to my French situation, so the quick summary is: I think it's a great point, and I
should replace at least some of the conversation group meetups I go to (usually
dominated by beginner/intermediate learners) with interaction with native speakers,
which in my case means tutoring as it's the only way I can reliably find and speak
with them. I also gave an example of the European immigrants in my city, who often
live in a "bubble" in which they speak English but mostly with other learners, and
they feel that it limits their progress after a certain point.

I believe that in the earlier stages it's good to get out there and speak, even if
it's just with other learners, so you get used to expressing yourself to others. Maybe
not from day one, which is too extreme for most, but sooner rather than later.
However, I'm beginning to think that when you're trying to reach a very advanced
level, like B2 to C1 and beyond as we're discussing here, speaking with other learners
who are at your level or lower might be counter-productive, or at least inefficient,
and you'd be better speaking with natives (paying if necessary) or even just getting
more input. I wonder what other people's thoughts on this are. And there's the
question of more advanced non-native speakers; Serpent mentioned earlier in the thread
that at times they can even be more helpful than natives since they can see things
from a learner's perspective.

Also while we're talking about activating a language and improving speaking, another
issue to consider is confidence. Often if I speak badly, it's more down to lack of
confidence than lack of language skill, and I've heard (I think it was from s_allard
in another thread) that one advantage of a good tutor is increasing your confidence
using the language. For me that's another reason to go out and speak more, as I find
that if I'm in the habit of speaking a language regularly it becomes less of a "big
deal", although of course confidence is a personal thing and others might be the
opposite and find that improving their understanding and knowledge through input or
study gives them more confidence.

Edited by garyb on 20 February 2015 at 4:15pm

2 persons have voted this message useful



tarvos
Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
China
likeapolyglot.wordpr
Joined 2895 days ago

5310 posts - 9398 votes 
Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 
 Message 79 of 177
20 February 2015 at 4:15pm | IP Logged 
That's all good and fun but I don't plan on taking, say, any French exams in the near
future. Am I not C2 if I speak good French, but don't sit the exam?

re: confidence, I agree, especially if you are under B2 a confidence-inspiring tutor is
key. Above that, I don't think it is as relevant because at that stage you should be able
to make yourself understood very comfortably. You should be able to take the criticism by
that point.

Edited by tarvos on 20 February 2015 at 4:16pm

1 person has voted this message useful



Ari
Heptaglot
Senior Member
Norway
Joined 4770 days ago

2314 posts - 5695 votes 
Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
Studies: Czech, Latin, German

 
 Message 80 of 177
20 February 2015 at 4:34pm | IP Logged 
s_allard wrote:
Let's say that this exam requires that you write a 700-word essay, I would assume that you have practiced writing such essays before coming to the exam. Wouldn't it make sense to have these essays corrected by a knowledgeable native speaker?

It's the same with speaking. We all know that people are usually too polite to correct adults. So, how can I improve if nobody corrects me?

Having someone look over an important document before it's sent off is natural and something that people do in their native language all the time. Corrections are of course useful for editing, and some explicit grammar knowledge is also useful for self-editing, in some cases where one's "feel" might not be a good guide.

But if we're talking corrections, the question in the context of going from B to C is: Do corrections help you get better? Krashen says no, and he quotes a bunch of studies.

Applying the Comprehension Hypothesis: Some Suggestions wrote:
In his review of the literature, Truscott (1996) has concluded that correction has no effect on grammatical accuracy; in a previous ETA paper, I also reviewed this research and came to similar conclusions – correction only seems to help when students are tested on tests in which the conditions for Monitor use appear to be met, e.g. a grammar test.


The same goes for explicit grammar instruction. Does it make our grammar better? Krashen says no:

Teaching Grammar: Why Bother? wrote:
Perhaps the most convincing research is that of Elley, Barham, Lamb and Wyllie (1976). After a three year study comparing the effects of traditional grammar, transformational grammar and no grammar on high school students in New Zealand, they concluded that " ... English grammar, whether traditional or transformational, has virtually no influence on the language growth of typical secondary students" (pp. 17-18).


Of course, Krashen may be wrong. I'm not a linguist. But I think we can establish that a credible argument, supported by at least some research, can be made that working with a tutor and getting your output corrected will not help you get you from a B2 level to a C2 level. That time is better spent on reading strategies focused on exposing oneself to the kind of material that will help you master all kinds of speech and writing.

Again, this may be wrong. I'm not saying I'm sure Krashen is right. But it's not obviously wrong. It could be right. I personally believe it is, based on my experience. If it is, then learning some explicit grammar and maybe getting some corrections might help you get better at corrections, meaning you might spot a few errors you're making, but it will not enhance your base writing skill (i.e. stop you from making the errors when you're not consciously looking for them). And since speech cannot be corrected after the fact, it will likely do little good in improving your speaking skills.


4 persons have voted this message useful



This discussion contains 177 messages over 23 pages: << Prev 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23  Next >>


Post ReplyPost New Topic Printable version Printable version

You cannot post new topics in this forum - You cannot reply to topics in this forum - You cannot delete your posts in this forum
You cannot edit your posts in this forum - You cannot create polls in this forum - You cannot vote in polls in this forum


This page was generated in 0.3281 seconds.


DHTML Menu By Milonic JavaScript
Copyright 2019 FX Micheloud - All rights reserved
No part of this website may be copied by any means without my written authorization.