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Moving from B2 to C2

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 Message 97 of 177
21 February 2015 at 10:01am | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:

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.

I think the "better speaker" also comes from doing lots of listening as well, which you can get if you speak with people and they reply, or if you watch lots of movies. It's important to keep hearing the language as well as reading it IMHO.

Edited by patrickwilken on 21 February 2015 at 10:02am

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 Message 98 of 177
21 February 2015 at 11:56am | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
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.

Thank you for the link. I know Kato Lomb, I've read her book in Japanese (わたしの外国語学習方法) and I enjoyed it. However, I think she was an exceptional talent and her incredible achievements were due to her mental capacities and not so much to her language learning techniques (which are not all that unusual, by the way). 99,99 of all language learners won't be able to become simultaneous interpreters after conning over a Russian dictionary, reading some novels and listening to the radio for three months.
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 Message 99 of 177
21 February 2015 at 1:23pm | IP Logged 
Since Kato Lomb's name was mentioned in the context of Krashen's reference to her as an example of
how comprehensible input is central to successful language learning by adults, I though it might be
interesting to read Lomb's own words. Here's a very interesting and recent (2005) article that
compares Lomb's writings to current second language learning theory.
Kato Lomb's Strategies for Language Learning and
SLA Theory

Here is an excerpt from Lomb's book where she talks about using a native speaker of the target
language (Azilian):

Of course, I try to seek out a teacher who speaks Azilian. If I find a professional educator, I’ve got it
made. If there isn’t a bona fide teacher available, I try to at least get a native speaker student who is
staying in my country on a scholarship.
      “I confess that I prefer to be taught by a woman. Perhaps this is because it is easier to chat with
women. I have long been intrigued by the question of why women talk more than men do (generally
      “To return to my method of language study, what I expect from my Azilian teacher is what I cannot
get from either books or from the radio. Firstly, I ask the teacher to speak at a slower than average
speed so that I can catch as many words as possible from the context, and secondly, I expect him or
her to correct my Azilian, mainly on the basis of written assignments that I diligently prepare for each
      “At first, I write free compositions because it’s easier. Often these are disjointed texts, made up of
elements not connected with each other, just loose sentences that I use to hang new, just seen/just
heard words and grammatical phrases on. On the basis of the teacher’s corrections, I verify whether I
grasped their meanings and functions properly. When I reach a higher level of knowledge, I begin to
translate. At this stage, an already given text compels me to give up using well-practiced formulas
and, under the pressure of the translating discipline, employ others that I am not so certain of.
      “Uncorrected mistakes are very perilous! If one keeps repeating wrong formulas, they take root in
the mind and one will be inclined to accept them as authentic. Written translations pinpoint one’s
errors ruthlessly, while a listening ear might be prone to just glossing over them….

I strongly urge readers to have a look at the entire article. Yes, comprehensible input is central to
successful language learning. But there is a hell of a lot more work necessary than "just listen and
read" as some deluded people like to think.

Frankly, I think that much of this debate about input vs output is plain silly. Of course one needs input
to have output but this idea that if you absorb enough input just by listening and reading you will
spontaneously - I would say magically - start writing and speaking well or perfectly is ludicrous.

I'm not picking a fight here with Krashen who, by the way, was writing about classroom teaching of
children and against certain teaching traditions. What I'm saying is that if you want to write and speak
well, you have to write and speak a lot in addition to lots of reading and listening. It's as simple as

I believe that regardless of the number of pages that you have read, if you have never written in the
target language and you are asked to write 500 words on a simple subject such as: Why I came to
choose my profession or course of studies, you will fall flat on your face.

It's the same with speaking. You listen to hundreds or thousands of hours of speeches, interviews, tv
shows, movies that you understand perfectly but you never actually have spoken the language,
especially with native speakers. Now, you are sitting with a group of native speakers and somebody
asks you: Tell us, how did you come to choose your profession? How do you think you will do?

All of this is quite clear when one looks at the preparation for a C-level or even a B-level exam.
Nobody is nuts enough to think all they have to do is read just more books or watch more television to
pass the test. To go to the written test and not have written a page in the target language is downright

And I didn't even talk about getting corrective feedback about your writing and speaking. Don't get me
started on that.

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 Message 100 of 177
21 February 2015 at 2:17pm | IP Logged 
Great answer, s_allard, and thank you for the link and quotes. It's very interesting to read Kato Lomb's own words. It's interesting to read her account of mistakes "taking root". It sounds a bit like the stuff about "fossilized mistakes" that advocates of a silent period sometimes use.

As for talking about why one chose one's profession, or similar topic, I'm convinced one can do it comfortably with nothing but input-based learning (whether or not that's ideal is another question). However, this is about making oneself understood without many problems. It's very possible that there are mistakes that are hard to get at with input only. Noun genders in German have been suggested in another thread I remember. Whether or not these problems can be corrected with input-only methods I don't know. As I said before, it's not very likely that one will scrupulously avoid output anyway.

So yeah, I don't know what it takes to get to C2. I do think that it's more common for people to suffer from a lack of input than to suffer from a lack of output or corrections. Especially in classroom situations. And of course, working with a tutor also involves a lot of comprehensible input, as has been pointed out. A tutor that adapts to one's level of understanding sounds like a good strategy for improving listening.

This has been an interesting discussion, and I'm not sure I have much more to offer to it. I don't want to discourage anyone from using corrections or tutoring if that's working for them, though I do think the comprehension hypothesis deserves to be taken seriously. But where I do agree with s_allard is that people should find their own way of learning. We should all keep iterating and adapting our methods to improve them. My latest step was mostly ditching the SRS system I've been loving so much and working more with reading, and I've been surprised by the results. That might have colored my perception of this thread. Also I've heard the phrase "The only way to learn to speak a language is to speak it" so many times I might have overreacted towards the other side. :)
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 Message 101 of 177
21 February 2015 at 3:01pm | IP Logged 
Ari wrote:
... My latest step was mostly ditching the SRS system I've been loving so much and working more with reading, and I've been surprised by the results. That might have colored my perception of this thread. Also I've heard the phrase "The only way to learn to speak a language is to speak it" so many times I might have overreacted towards the other side. :)

Perhaps we all have a tendency to believe so ardently in our methods and what "works" for us that we may discount useful methods that could help us to improve if we would only give them a chance.

It may be that a certain method may be opportune at one stage of learning and we believe in it so much because of the results it gave us that we carry on with it to the point of diminishing returns. There can be tremendous reluctance to change things up- fear of the unknown? Comfort? I am guilty.

Edited by iguanamon on 21 February 2015 at 5:20pm

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 Message 102 of 177
21 February 2015 at 9:52pm | IP Logged 
Remember that in Katò Lomb's time there wasn't such a variety of audio available. Mostly just Linguaphone and other audio courses, and native radio. Not much in between. It's natural that the tutor would be the missing link. I'm sure she would've enjoyed the LR method if she could've used modern audiobooks.

As for input automatically resulting in output, of course it won't be perfect from the beginning. But it can be fluent in the technical sense. I was quite fluent the first time I tried to speak Italian. I wasn't accurate enough, and I know there's still a lot to work on (I ended up getting more Spanish input and taking it to basic fluency instead, with a minimal amount of output as well).

@tarvos, I like comparing myself to Hermione here. She got most of the "cultural" stuff from books. I don't enjoy speaking to another human being if they have to go out of their way to help me understand what they are saying (or to understand me). I'd rather wait until I don't have to fake confidence because I actually understand what they are saying.
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 Message 103 of 177
21 February 2015 at 11:26pm | IP Logged 
I would like to conjecture that while comprehensible input on its own can bring you a
good deal of the distance that other things (output, grammar) start to become more
important in the later stages of learning.

In the early stages there will be a lot of error in output. This will be on a
continuous downward trend with increased comprehensible input - and quality increases.
At a reasonably high level (e.g. B2) sufficient output can take place; issues like the
affective filter play a less central role; there is space in the brain for the
regularities of grammar and so more potential use for it, rather than being
overwhelmed by it at an earlier level of learning.

However, on the other side of the equation, as one approaches C2 input becomes more
easily comprehensible and therefore there can more easily be more of it. Common sense,
though, argues that some output is necessary - e.g. in speech to get used to the
physical sound production, accent etc and the need to develop one's own written and
verbal styles in L2 (no-one fully uses either L1 or L2 in their output - we have to
develop our usable vocab, preferred constructions and so on). Comprehensible input may
account for most of language acquisition but it is quite rare to meet people who have
attained C2 without any speaking or writing at all..... Therefore it must play
some role....
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 Message 104 of 177
21 February 2015 at 11:39pm | IP Logged 
I've been recently thinking about a point raised here. How much does being corrected
help me. Well, obviously, it should help a lot just following common sense. But I
found myself repeating the same mistakes despite being corrected many times, There
used to be mistakes I had had corrected again and again for several years. I found the
corrections to be valuable only if sufficient amount of study follows the correction
of course.but they mostly disappear just the same without the correction if I continue
to study and read/listen a lot. Review of the grammar point, looking up more exemples,
find out by myself what makes me repeat the mistake and a tutor can help with very
little in this quest. The correction per se isn't the most important part of the

Yes, I think there is lots of value in the other advice the tutor can give you, such
as how to make a sentence sound more natural. Sure. But I am still waiting for the
result of the dalf to see whether all this advice helped me enough.

About acquiring the correct pronunciation and accent, that is really a point where
tutors and teachers are being totally overestimated as a relict of those times native
audio wasn't widely spread. I wouldn't dare to claim Kato Lomb wrong, but she was just
learning in very different times as Serpent pointed out. After various kinds of
experience (described in full length in my logs), I am convinced the amount of
listening practice is the key and repeating after audio is a sufficient practice
enough to acquire correct pronunciation and accent. A tutor and the correction is not
just as efficient by far as listening lots and lots.

I really can't wait to get the exam results, I am really curious. If I fail, I'll
retake it in June but I won't get a tutor. I don't have the money and I think the
things I need to improve are much more in my hands.

I'm not saying he hasn't taught me anything, no, surely not. I am just really unsure
whether he taught me enough and I am afraid he hasn't taught me as much as I had hoped
him to.

Edited by Cavesa on 21 February 2015 at 11:40pm

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