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Moving from B2 to C2

 Language Learning Forum : General discussion Post Reply
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Senior Member
Joined 2794 days ago

152 posts - 263 votes 
Studies: German*, French, EnglishC2
Studies: Japanese, Norwegian

 Message 89 of 177
20 February 2015 at 9:18pm | IP Logged 
The recipe for selling a language method: Make an attention-getting claim (e.g. 'you can learn a language without any swotting!' (Krashen), 'You can learn a language in 1 day' (100s of language methods on the market), build a framework around that claim based on some shady "research" ('the silent phase: only speak after X hours of input!') and there you go.

People always tried to sell shortcuts to language learning, even thousands of years ago (according to one of my former language professors). That's nothing new. People always wanted to learn and master foreign languages and they always had a more or less hard time achieving their goal.

There are no shortcuts, it just takes time and effort. The process can be accelerated by more effort, but that's about it. Provided you use intelligend methods, that is. Input only without any further explanation in terms of grammar and so on is not one of them, except for the very basic levels.
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Senior Member
Joined 3857 days ago

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Speaks: French*, English, Spanish
Studies: Polish

 Message 90 of 177
20 February 2015 at 9:24pm | IP Logged 
patrickwilken wrote:
s_allard wrote:

1. Spend an hour over Skype with a professional tutor reading out aloud, speaking and correcting texts
written by the learner.

2. Read for an extra hour.

What would most people choose? Before we answer, we have to ask a more fundamental question:

But what about 1000 hours doing Skype tutoring or a 1000 hours reading? Who would be better off at
the end?

Although I think this is a rather silly question, in my opinion this is a no-brainer. I would go with 1000
hours of Skype tutoring - ouch, think of the cost. Let's say two hours a day. That would be pure
language learning heaven. A lot of time could be spent reading aloud in the company of the tutor. And
discussing things that we have just read. Then there's all that speaking and writing. But the
fundamental question remains: what are your goals? If speaking and writing are the goal, tutoring wins
hands down?

Edited by s_allard on 20 February 2015 at 9:32pm

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Senior Member
Russian Federation
Joined 5024 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 91 of 177
20 February 2015 at 10:21pm | IP Logged 
1000 hours with the same tutor is a waste of money. I go for 700 hours of listening (to DIFFERENT native speakers, including commentators, actors in TV shows etc) and 300 hours of reading.

And Krashen isn't a shortcut. If anything, tutors are a shortcut. I prefer a silent period mostly because I consider it pointless to start speaking before I can understand more or less everything I need. Tutors can get you to speak before you can read and watch TV, but what's the point for an average learner without a deadline?
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Senior Member
United Kingdom
Joined 2717 days ago

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

 Message 92 of 177
20 February 2015 at 11:04pm | IP Logged 
Are we assuming that money is no issue? Obviously living in country for years, even
more than a decade would be conducive to achieving C2 more efficiently, but I am not
sure that that is what is to be assumed. I honestly wonder how many people can afford
that, plus tutouring on a weekly basis, plus formal instruction (if they even wanted
it), plus the accommodation and other financial necessities just to get from B2 to C2,
although the time required is much less than from an A level to C2.

It would sure be conducive to spend 10 years in the country, have a spouse who speaks
the target language, and even if the person wants, a tutour and formal classes at the
official institutes like the Instituto Cervantes, Alliance Française, Goetheinstitut,
etc., but even so, I know probably only 2 or 3 people who can comfortably do that, and
that is because their parents are multi-millionaires with multiple houses and live in
posh areas and they do not have to work at all. Most people whom I know would be
financially ruined if they tried this strategy for even 1 month. Or are we still to
assume that money is no problem?

I am not sure how much classes, tutouring etc. cost, but if I had to guess, my
accounting would be like this:

tutouring per week: 30€
class cost per week: 50€
accommodation per week: 300€
food per week: 70€
public transit per week: 10€
misc: 50€
total: 510€ per week

Do this for a year and that would be 52(510€) = 26250€ per year. Let us assume that
the minimum wage is something ubiquitous, say 15€ per hour. 15(8) = 120€ per day.
(365)(120€) = 43800€, and this in-country goal to get to C2 costs more than half of a
minimum wage salary, assuming that this person works full time during this immersion

It does not even have to mentioned for myself, that if I tried this total
class/tutouring/immersion experience, a year would leave me financially destroyed,
"total kapot".

That is one advantage of doing everything by self-teaching--it costs much less,
especially for working class people. And regarding C2 test "requiring a tutour", I
shall quite gladly vouch to try a C2 test in one of my target languages when I feel
that I have that level, even if takes 10 years more. If I can do both univarable and
multivariable calculus by myself, why not a language. Given that it costs over 100€, I
still feel comfortable with doing it in this manner, putting "moth" where the "money"
is, I guess (if that is the expression).

I am not saying to not do all of these things that are quite costly (or perhaps to the
rich, fairly cheap), I did know some people in university that spent a few years
in Spain or Latin America with some sort of class/immersion-style strategy, it also
helped not only their level but their accent. If you can afford 50000€ even, and like
one of my classmates, even had enough money to buy a car and house and live in a
foreign country with immersion, if you can spend 200000€ a year without significant
financial consequences and it suits you, then do it. I just highly doubt that this is
applicable to most people, especially given that the unemployment rate for my age
range is near 50% in some countries, and even in the richer countries, this privilege
is generally not the norm.

Edited by 1e4e6 on 21 February 2015 at 12:19am

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Senior Member
Joined 3857 days ago

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

 Message 93 of 177
20 February 2015 at 11:56pm | IP Logged 
iguanamon wrote:
It doesn't have to be an either/or proposition. I have benefited hugely from
massive input (reading, listening), output (writing, speaking), listening AND tutoring. The tutoring
has been the missing link in tying it all together for me.

Obviously, some people can't afford the cost of a tutor. Some tutors are good and fit well with an
individual learning style and some are not so good and do not fit very well. It may take a while to find
the right person.

I haven't attempted to take any CEFR level (or equivalent) tests for reasons of cost and time involved.
Living far away from any centers, I cannot justify the cost for what is for me, not a necessity to have
the piece of paper.

If I were working on a CEFR C-1 or C-2 level test, I would definitely hire a tutor familiar with what it
takes to pass such a test and work with that person. The work done to pass such a test would be much
more intense than what I could do myself and probably cover areas I wouldn't think to cover on my
own, but that's just me. My hat is off to those who have achieved this on their own. You have worked
hard and have a tremendous accomplishment as a result.

Rather than repeat myself and bore everybody, I'll just let iguanamon aptly summarize - as he is wont
to do - a simple idea: one can benefit from lots of input, lots of output AND a tutor. The key
word here is can; it's not must. Don't like tutors? Don't use 'em. Don't like speaking or writing? No
problem. Don't like listening to recordings? That's fine. If watching soap operas from morning is your
cup of tea, no problem. What counts is the end result.

I know a student of French who really dislikes studying grammar and any kind of exercises. All he
wants to do is talk and be corrected. The teacher tells me that this student understands French nearly
perfectly but has serious problems talking because he never really got the grammar right and refuses
to study. The end result is that progress is extremely slow or nearly inexistent. Tutoring would not
really be very effective because the student would do absolutely no work in between sessions. Frankly,
the situation is rather hopeless.

Edited by s_allard on 21 February 2015 at 1:44am

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Joined 2644 days ago

33 posts - 61 votes 
Speaks: German*, English, Russian
Studies: Mandarin

 Message 94 of 177
21 February 2015 at 3:11am | IP Logged 
To refute the ancient adage that after page 4 no new idea will be posted in an internet thread, I have a suggestion for the original poster to improve speaking and writing:

When you stumble upon a construction or pattern in your reading that you are able to understand effortlessly but that is not part of your active vocabulary, note it down and try to use it later while writing something. A lot of C1 and C2 involves finding fancier ways to express something.

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Super Polyglot
Winner TAC 2012
Senior Member
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Speaks: Dutch*, English, Swedish, French, Russian, German, Italian, Norwegian, Mandarin, Romanian, Afrikaans
Studies: Greek, Modern Hebrew, Spanish, Portuguese, Czech, Korean, Esperanto, Finnish

 Message 95 of 177
21 February 2015 at 3:31am | IP Logged 
Serpent wrote:

And Krashen isn't a shortcut. If anything, tutors are a shortcut. I prefer a silent
period mostly because I consider it pointless to start speaking before I can
understand more or less everything I need. Tutors can get you to speak before you can
read and watch TV, but what's the point for an average learner without a deadline?

Interaction with an actual human being from another culture. Interacting with people
gives you cultural information that just reading the books simply doesn't give you.
They will tell you certain things, but cultures need to be lived, not read about.

For me it's much more pertinent to see how Russians, say, in general, reply to certain
questions. These kind of things can be read about, but it's never the same as seeing
it in real life and that's why you need native speakers around (they do not
necessarily have to be tutors).

Tutors can't be a shortcut by definition by the way - there isn't anything
supernatural involved by talking to people. The only thing that's "magical" or a
"silver bullet" is "listening in your sleep" or other some nonsense like that.

As for me, I have a definite need to understand people when they interact with me
directly because I live abroad. And for many people, they're learning the language for
the same reason, not because they're language geeks like you and me. For them,
understanding basic interactions is actually very relevant and that constitutes a big
part of language learners.

For me, the turning point was that I spent two years travelling in Belgium without
improving my French substantially. That's what made me change. I don't have a
linguistical background at all (I studied languages in high school and I was good at
them, but that's beside the point). For me, reality and LIFE showed me that I had to
speak foreign languages. I simply can't identify a lot with people who learn languages
at home from the comfort of their armchair because I've been there, done that, and
failed in the real world when it counted.

Edited by tarvos on 21 February 2015 at 4:03am

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Senior Member
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Speaks: Swedish*, English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese
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 Message 96 of 177
21 February 2015 at 9:23am | IP Logged 
So here's a point that also needs to be made: a comprehensive input strategy does not necessarily mean just plonking yourself down with the collected works of Balzac and start plowing. There are many different strategies, such as narrow reading, sentence mining, rereading, reading familiar material, and other strategies for listening, too. The theoretical optimal input strategy would need to balance the need for repetition of structures and vocabulary with the need for a broad exposure to different registers, styles and expressions.

Anyway, I agree with the poster who said that input-only works fine for getting up to B2. I'm absolutely convinced by that. For getting further, I don't know. It's probably not a bad idea to get some schooling in the language, because natives do, too. But I believe that the core should remain input, and I'd much prefer 1000 hours of reading to 1000 hours of tutoring, and I believe the first is likely to produce a better speaker, if the reading is done correctly.

As to the poster who wondered if Krashen himself has learned a foreign language to high proficiency, I don't know, but you might be interested in this article where he describes the accomplished Hungarian polyglot Kato Lomb.

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