You're doing it wrong

General discussion about learning languages
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zenmonkey
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby zenmonkey » Thu Mar 07, 2019 12:28 am

David1917 wrote:
zenmonkey wrote:
David1917 wrote:I think the worst things people do are:

a) Self-assess CEFR levels / aim for self-assessed CEFR levels


Why do you think this is bad? Most people that learn a language don't take CEFR test and evaluate roughly how well they are doing and how far they want to get.

If fact, most languages don't have a CEFR test. These are really only available for a dozen languages and certainly not in most places. How is this the first thing on your list?


It's the most prevalent issue I see here, but the list was certainly not "in order of importance."

The issue I have is that it means nothing for practical goal-setting, it says nothing about your actual strengths/weaknesses, purpose for learning, or capabilities. The CEFR guidelines are vague enough in themselves such that the test varies across languages. Add in personal interpretation of the guidelines and the inherent lack of objectivity when it comes to self-assessment, and all of a sudden the code is totally meaningless.

I'd rather see people outlining their goals for applying the language learned and create a roadmap to get there. If you want to learn French to read Voltaire, then you'll want to spend more time on reading, analysis, and perhaps grasping the underlying themes in your own language first. If you want to learn French because you're marrying into a French family, you'll want to spend more time on speaking, listening, pop-culture, slang. If you need to learn French for work reasons, and part of that is a stipulation that you sit the B2 exam, then you will have to practice taking the test. If you say "I'd like to be around B2 in French by the end of the year," well, you've told me nothing.


So what you're really putting your finger on is that people seem to be (or at least aren't communicating) practical goals, current and future capabilities and reasons for learning. The issue isn't the CEFR self evaluation, per say, it's that it's a incomplete shortcut to a much larger process.

By the way, my own self evaluation and the test results that I got on the German TELC test were spot on, including which sections would carry me and which were my weakness. If I say I'm B2 in xxx, you may or not know whether that is tested or not. The issue isn't the self evaluation, it's that the shortcut doesn't tell you whether I'm all around at that level or if I have a particular weakness in speaking vs comprehension, writing, listening.

Perhaps people don't communicate that but I'd guess that for a lot of learners (at least the successful ones) they are quite able to identify their weaknesses without a test, but I get what you're saying. I agree that to properly align activity, actual functional expectations, current level matter. I still find the shortcut useful, it just needs a little follow up in the thinking and conversation.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 1:39 am

zenmonkey wrote:I still find the shortcut useful, it just needs a little follow up in the thinking and conversation.


I think the shortcut can be generally useful, especially when asking like "I'm maybe B1 is there a good book to get next?" But I think "I'm intermediate and completed XYZ course, is there a good book?" works just as well. For some reason I'm insanely pedantic about using these test scores, and find that they refer to specific achievements set by specific institutions under (less specific) guidelines, and while I'm not about to outright accuse anyone of being fraudulent by putting an un-tested CEFR level in their profile, I'm also like, why not just say intermediate....?

And like you said, it also doesn't account for different modalities to give an untested CEFR level. If you take a B2 test, it means you have all four modalities covered at least at that level. If you've read and understood Voltaire in the original but never spoken to a French person, then while you've accomplished a great intellectual feat commensurate with a C2 level, you'd probably be lucky to pass an A1.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 1:47 am

aokoye wrote:I do think that having a goal of attaining X test level/result can be useful, but primarily in the context of needing to reach that level in order to do something (like matriculate into a university). It's also only really helpful when learners realize that there's so much more to learning than "I just need to pass this test!" and that getting a hand on those other things is a large part of being able able to attain the desired test results (of course another part is knowing how to actually take the test).


I agree, with a requirement it's good to have. I think what I dislike is people say "I want to be a B1" then beancount their hours, try to compare it to the FSI chart or what someone else claims they did, and then when they reach those hours, they don't "feel" like a B1, but they probably do not even know what B1 "feels" like. In the context of this thread, I see it hurting peoples' chances at progress and enjoyment, because instead of saying "today I know a word I did not know yesterday" they say "I'm not at B1 yet!"
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Serpent » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:26 am

David1917 wrote:I'm also like, why not just say intermediate....?
because intermediate can mean anything from A2 to B2.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:40 am

Serpent wrote:
David1917 wrote:I'm also like, why not just say intermediate....?
because intermediate can mean anything from A2 to B2.


People say that, but every CEFR rating means something different to someone else. That's my point. The guidelines are vague. The test for each language is different because of that problem.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby Morgana » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:06 am

MacGyver wrote:What sort of fails or dead ends have you had. I see a language learning world out there full of lifelong beginners and false beginners. Most people here would have moved past that phase a long time ago, but you must have stumbled along the way.
My biggest failing has been caring about small details, caring about what other people are doing or thinking, caring about things that are mostly irrelevant to my own interest and ability in a language. Getting caught up in the latest method debate, wondering if person X can really speak all those 15 languages to an intermediate or advanced level, spending too much time thinking about if I'm doing something right or not, etc. None of it matters. They're all distractions from just doing my own work.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby MacGyver » Thu Mar 07, 2019 3:08 am

David1917 wrote:
Serpent wrote:
David1917 wrote:I'm also like, why not just say intermediate....?
because intermediate can mean anything from A2 to B2.


People say that, but every CEFR rating means something different to someone else. That's my point. The guidelines are vague. The test for each language is different because of that problem.


Does it matter though? If someone thinks they are C1, but in reality they are B1, its not a big deal. I mean if they try to get a job that expects C1 level skills, they might be in for a shock, or they might come across as overly confident/arrogant compared to their actual language skills... but meh.

I honestly don't know what level I am. I have never taken a real language test and don't have a good enough feel to self assess against the level descriptions.

My profile says beginner, but I think I am definitely a solid to upper intermediate. A2? B1? B2? A mix of all 3 plus some A1 in there? I know theres holes in my skills and I could easily come across as a low beginner if everything lined up badly for me. So I leave my profile as beginner. Haha.

At the end of the day, I am not learning Korean for any special purpose or use, so it doesn't matter.

Well, in saying that if I am a beginner after the amount of time that I have put into the language... then I am not very smart.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Thu Mar 07, 2019 2:40 pm

MacGyver wrote:Does it matter though? If someone thinks they are C1, but in reality they are B1, its not a big deal. I mean if they try to get a job that expects C1 level skills, they might be in for a shock, or they might come across as overly confident/arrogant compared to their actual language skills... but meh.

I honestly don't know what level I am. I have never taken a real language test and don't have a good enough feel to self assess against the level descriptions.

My profile says beginner, but I think I am definitely a solid to upper intermediate. A2? B1? B2? A mix of all 3 plus some A1 in there? I know theres holes in my skills and I could easily come across as a low beginner if everything lined up badly for me. So I leave my profile as beginner. Haha.

At the end of the day, I am not learning Korean for any special purpose or use, so it doesn't matter.

Well, in saying that if I am a beginner after the amount of time that I have put into the language... then I am not very smart.


In that thread I was mentioning how some advice had adversely affected my study. Mainly creating a tough schedule without really thinking about the how. Just assuming the learning would take care of itself.


What I mean is, I've seen threads where people have set up a yardstick by which to measure themselves, only to find that after x months or hours, they have not reached that level. Much like the experience you had with the ploy from the Irish marketing expert, it can create an unnecessary stressor on the learning process. The learning WILL take care of itself, as long as you're focused on the learning for its own sake, and not some broadly defined "level."
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby StringerBell » Fri Mar 08, 2019 12:38 am

David1917 wrote:I think the worst things people do are:
b) Bean-counting of hours


I'm very confused why you consider this to be one of the worst things people do, and I'd like to know why you think it's such a problem.

I, myself, keep track of time spent listening, reading, speaking, and writing Polish. I use the stopwatch on my phone and it takes no effort. I do it because it motivates me to be consistent and I enjoy doing it. I get satisfaction seeing the hours I've put in day after day. Counting hours was my main strategy for not giving up when I felt particularly demotivated throughout last year; it gave me something concrete to focus on, rather than murky, fluctuating, impossible to quantify skill levels. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but it worked exceptionally well for me.

Thanks to "bean-counting" I amassed 1,100 hours with Polish last year, which I then celebrated. It felt fantastic to reach such an ambitious goal.

Also, I don't really see many people "bean-counting" hours here. Maybe a few people here or there, but it just doesn't seem like a common thing.
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Re: You're doing it wrong

Postby David1917 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:42 am

StringerBell wrote:
David1917 wrote:I think the worst things people do are:
b) Bean-counting of hours


I'm very confused why you consider this to be one of the worst things people do, and I'd like to know why you think it's such a problem.

I, myself, keep track of time spent listening, reading, speaking, and writing Polish. I use the stopwatch on my phone and it takes no effort. I do it because it motivates me to be consistent and I enjoy doing it. I get satisfaction seeing the hours I've put in day after day. Counting hours was my main strategy for not giving up when I felt particularly demotivated throughout last year; it gave me something concrete to focus on, rather than murky, fluctuating, impossible to quantify skill levels. I know it doesn't work for everyone, but it worked exceptionally well for me.

Thanks to "bean-counting" I amassed 1,100 hours with Polish last year, which I then celebrated. It felt fantastic to reach such an ambitious goal.

Also, I don't really see many people "bean-counting" hours here. Maybe a few people here or there, but it just doesn't seem like a common thing.


It goes with the other things - thinking x number of hours = y level. We're not at the FSI, so their charts are irrelevant. Not all hours are created equal. If you want to count hours for the sake of counting hours, that's great. I'm doing it myself with the current 6WC. Again, in the long term, I prefer task-based or achievement-based goals, and I think others will experience less discouragement to do the same. "B2 after xyz hours" is just as misleading and has the same potential for frustration as "Fluent in 3 months."
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