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Moving from B2 to C2

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tarvos
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 Message 65 of 177
19 February 2015 at 5:22am | IP Logged 
This is why I have started to implement a rule when I try iTalki tutors. I always
insist on a first lesson (one-off) with them to check their style. If it's good, I may
continue and see what they have in store. If not, I ditch them. For some languages,
you don't have that many options (but enough usually). And you have to be ruthless
about this. I did a trial session with a teacher on Tuesday and she sent me a word
document with every single mistake I made in 30 minutes of speech. There weren't many
(almost all of it was stress mistakes, plus a few complex sentence structures I
understand in writing but didn't use correctly). But she was very precise, and I like
precise teachers at higher levels.

I find motivation is more necessary when you suck at a language. So you may have to
switch tutors when you move up, unless you have a very versatile and good teacher that
knows when to ease up on you and when to pressurize you.

If you know there's wheat to sort from the chaff - be proactive in doing it! Don't
just go with anyone and hope that'll stem your problems. Proactive behaviour is your
friend here.

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mrwarper
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 Message 66 of 177
19 February 2015 at 6:53am | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:
1. A bad teacher can be very demotivating. There are people who were able to demotivate even me [...]

Same here, and well put. A lot of demotivation in a class can come from students too, but that would be more appropriate in a forum about teaching. However, since we're now dwelling in the obvious, there's a couple more things that may go wrong with a class and not be the teacher's but the school's or class' fault:
-Adhering to the school teaching style -- I was fired once for not complying.
-Students should get involved and help to establish the rhythm/intensity of classes.
-I've dropped out of classes that were not really working, but the teacher couldn't really switch styles for two people (nor I expected her to do so) because all of the other students were happy like that:

Quote:
2. If you are dependent on a bad teacher and cannot tell they are bad, how are you supposed to[...]

In the class I mentioned immediately above (I loved the teacher but she got stuck doing the classes the way she was supposed to from the beginning) many folk were unable to notice barely any progress was being made, regardless of who was to blame. I guess it takes some trauma, like working hard yet flunking, to snap out of it and start assessing how much you do learn for real in the class?

Edited by mrwarper on 19 February 2015 at 6:57am

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Ari
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 Message 67 of 177
19 February 2015 at 7:39am | IP Logged 
I really don't want to get too involved in this debate, but I can say one thing for sure: nothing has improved my speaking more than doing lots of listening. In all my languages, this has proven true, from growing up learning English, to six years of worthless French classes followed by six months of intensive movie watching, to being immersed in Mandarin all day for a year, yet improving more through watching movies than through talking.

I'm convinced this holds water up to at least B2 level. Above that, I don't know, since I usually don't strive for much higher than that. My only C2 example is English, and from what I remember, I was already C1+ when I went to the US, before which I had hardly had a conversation in English, but I had been doing some writing on online forums and the like. And my brain was young and the input was truly massive. Nowadays I'm spreading myself too thin to be able to match that level of listening and reading in any other language.
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patrickwilken
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 Message 68 of 177
19 February 2015 at 10:00am | IP Logged 
Cavesa wrote:

Serpent, I think headdesk is the correct option here.


I went for the other option and am enjoying nice Postdam beer and potato chips... Please continue. :)

Edited by patrickwilken on 19 February 2015 at 10:02am

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garyb
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 Message 69 of 177
19 February 2015 at 10:48am | IP Logged 
I hear lots of accounts of people learning languages, especially English, "just from lots of films and TV". Upon further investigation, there's invariably a bit more to the story than that, but the massive listening is undeniably a major component in taking their speaking from OK to good. Cavesa's account (and log, which I've followed for a while) is interesting. Yes, there were classes and speaking etc. involved in the beginner to intermediate part, but it appears that the intermediate to advanced stage, which is the more difficult part and the one we're interested in here, was indeed mostly input.

So I'm tempted to go against my own instincts and experience and say that massive input does work, at least for some people. The level of listening input I personally get - typically a few TV episodes and/or a film per week, plus a few conversations and some background radio etc., probably doesn't quite count as "massive" so it wouldn't be fair for me to refute the idea just from my own experience. Even if huge input on its own is not enough for everyone, it still appears to be a key component.

Some more food for thought: a bit of a dilemma I've had recently. I've been learning French for longer than Italian, and consequently gotten a lot more total input and have a better theoretical knowledge of the language, yet my spoken Italian is now overtaking my spoken French. I'm trying to identify the particular reasons for this, as they're languages of similar difficulty and I study both quite actively. It might shed light on how to get good at speaking. Possibilities I've thought of:

- More frequent practice: I tend to speak at least a little Italian most days, while with French it's typically one long conversation per week. Conventional wisdom says that short and frequent practice is better than long and infrequent.
- I mostly speak Italian with native speakers, while much of my French practice is with other learners.
- Socialising: a lot of my Italian use is in real social situations with friends, acquaintances, and one-to-one language exchange partners; French is mostly with groups of people at meetups with whom I don't have much of a personal connection.
- Italian is phonetically simpler: less mental effort required to pronounce correctly so more can be spent on other aspects of expressing myself.

It's hard to isolate it, and I think all are factors, but it's seeming to me that socialising with native speakers, while perhaps not essential, gives a big boost for speaking skills. In the last couple of months I've been socialising with Italians more and I've seen very noticeable improvements to my speaking. This socialising has meant far less time for TV and films, but conversations of course also involve lots of listening, and I find that things stick better when I'm involved in an interaction rather than watching one on a screen.

This is starting to remind me of the old marketing joke: "50% of our advertising is working, but we can't tell which 50%".
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tarvos
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 Message 70 of 177
19 February 2015 at 11:41am | IP Logged 
Which is why I think you need both massive input and the output to show for it.
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s_allard
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 Message 71 of 177
19 February 2015 at 1:17pm | IP Logged 
tarvos wrote:
Which is why I think you need both massive input and the output to show for it.

Although tarvos and I don't see eye to eye on many things, here is where we agree totally. The choice
isn't between input or output. No one has argued against lots of input. But lots of passive input does
not lead automatically to great output. You need interaction and engagement with the language.

I don't believe in language learning miracles. Like another poster, I'm very wary when I hear that a
person has learned to speak English perfectly just by listening to an American television program.
There is a story behind every person's language learning, including all those years of classes that many
people love to disparage. When I read how the famous polyglots learned all their languages, there's a
story behind each language. And it usually involves travel to the country, formal studies, tutoring, and
lots of interaction with native speakers.

So, it's neither all input or all output; it's interaction. It's all about engaging the language. This can take
many forms of course. The most fun and effective way is to actually live in the country and interact
with natives. The internet offers many other possibilities. Using a private tutor may not be for
everybody, but I have to say that, despite all the negative comments here, tutoring seems widely used,
especially for exam preparation.

Edited by s_allard on 19 February 2015 at 1:24pm

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tarvos
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 Message 72 of 177
19 February 2015 at 1:40pm | IP Logged 
Exam preparation doesn't account for a lot of cases. I think that's the big argument.


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