How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

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iguanamon
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby iguanamon » Thu Jul 18, 2019 2:03 pm

You don't need a word or phrases for a situation until... you do. I blew out the sole of my shoe in Brazil and needed to buy a pair of shoes. The pair I was interested in buying came with yellow shoestrings and I wanted black. I didn't know the word for shoestrings and had to circumlocute to get the word. A few days ago, a friend asked me how to say "cheers" in Haitian Creole. I had no idea because I'd never drank with anyone in HC or toasted. There are all kinds of situations for which I would be inadequate in most of my languages- dealing with cars, plumbing, household repairs, etc. ... because I have never had to do that in those languages. I have dealt with them in Spanish and Portuguese to some extent. I know the words for clothes hanger(s) "percha" and "colgador de ropa" in Spanish and "cabides" in Portuguese", but I don't know it in my other languages.

Probably most of us here on the forum live outside of TL countries and live without native-speakers as significant others. This doesn't seem to stop us from having a never ending quest for the seemingly elusive native-like command of a language we are learning. Ironically, if someone had told me when I was a monolingual learning my first L2 that I would be able to communicate in most situations with relative ease but still wouldn't be able to get my car repaired or know the words for shoestrings or clothes hanger, I would have been thrilled. I have no real need to learn about clothes hangers in Ladino, Haitian Creole, or Lesser Antilles French Creole and haven't run across the word to this day in my conversations, reading or media.

The good thing about reaching a high level is a learner can ask for what they don't know or research it and learn it when or if they may need to know it. So, to answer the OP- yes, a learner can reach C2 without a native-level immersion. It's done all the time. Can a learner reach a "native-like" level without a native-level immersion? No, not if being able to deal with any situation that may come up in a typical life is required. If a learner isn't in the situation to need the vocabulary or expressions required, it is difficult to artificially learn them. We may use shoestrings and hangers every day, but they are not a topic of everyday conversation. Neither are we likely to come across those words in our everyday reading, listening or watching media. I'm ok with it. I have no shame in not knowing them in all of my languages... but I'll probably go and look them up now! :lol:

Edit:
Haitian Creole:
clothes hanger: sèso; chèso
shoestring: lasèt

Lesser Antilles French Creole/Kwéyòl
clothes hanger: ouvè la
shoestring: fisèl soulyé la

Ladino/Djudeo-espanyol
clothes hanger: enforkador de ropa
shoestring: kuedra de sapato

Edit 2:
Catalan
clothes hanger: penjador
shoestring: cordon
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby El Forastero » Thu Jul 18, 2019 8:08 pm

I reach a certified C1 level in italian with no immersion at all, but my t=0 point was not exaclty from scratch: I'm a native spanish speaker and at the moment I decided to learn italian I was already C1 in both french and Portugues, and in the B2/C1 border in english. That's why some of the hardest topics a begginer need to face were easier for me than for a genuine beginner

I reach B2 in French, English (certified) and Portuguese (Not certified, but I suppose so) before immersion experiences, and thanks to them I could improve to C1 in all these languages.
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby drp9341 » Thu Jul 18, 2019 9:08 pm

iguanamon wrote:The good thing about reaching a high level is a learner can ask for what they don't know or research it and learn it when or if they may need to know it. So, to answer the OP- yes, a learner can reach C2 without a native-level immersion. It's done all the time. Can a learner reach a "native-like" level without a native-level immersion? No, not if being able to deal with any situation that may come up in a typical life is required. If a learner isn't in the situation to need the vocabulary or expressions required, it is difficult to artificially learn them. We may use shoestrings and hangers every day, but they are not a topic of everyday conversation. Neither are we likely to come across those words in our everyday reading, listening or watching media. I'm ok with it. I have no shame in not knowing them in all of my languages... but I'll probably go and look them up now! :lol:


When I was younger, a relative gave me this book for Italian.
Image

I remember going through it before going to Italy when I was around 12 or 13. It was extremely useful. It's stupid stuff. Each page has a big illustration of something mundane, like a kitchen, a backyard, a bedroom, a city, etc. It then tells you the definition of some of the words. It's not 100% perfect, (I remember specifically arguing this one with my dad. The book said that the way to say "hearse" in Italian was "furgone" which means "van". A funeral car is "un carro funebre.")

I have this book in Arabic, Portuguese and Spanish version. The Portuguese version is European Portuguese, I can't remember what the Spanish one is. The Arabic version is in Modern Standard Arabic.
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby Cavesa » Fri Jul 19, 2019 3:37 pm

Axon wrote:No matter how much I stress it, my students are reluctant to do extensive listening because they can't see the benefit as much as they can when they have private lessons or study vocabulary. And that's totally reasonable, too, because it's an amazing feeling of accomplishment to learn a bunch of words and then see those words again in a real text. Only one student has really tried several days of extensive listening in a row, and he and I both noticed the difference in natural-sounding phrasing during our next lesson.

I think in-person immersion just challenges you so much. Every single situation is an opportunity to either know how to say something or not. Just the other day I was happily chatting with a taxi driver about how the city had changed, then at the airport I went to the exchange counter and my mind went blank - not once in thousands of hours of Mandarin had I ever learned about or heard anybody talking about changing money!


They are reluctant because of the widely spread expectations of instant results and instant gratification. Many people get so discouraged during the first 10 minutes or one hour, because they are simply bad at listening comprehension at first. Well, that is normal, we are supposed to be bad at it at first. We are also being trained to quantify everything and to believe that learning must be a constant struggle with boring resources :-D Also, if you are the first teacher ever telling them that, after several others doing the exact opposite, it might be another reason of their opposition to the idea.

I personally don't think the in-person immersion is as efficient. Don't get me wrong, there are tons of things people learn this way, sure, and some things are better learnt in person and others with tv. But with tv series, you can make a sort of a learning curve for yourself and use the time more efficiently. In the country, vast majority of those situations is likely to be basic shopping language and other similarly easy and repetitive situations, and the tiny minority will be the valuable and challenging stuff, where you get one chance and then wait a long time before a similar situation appears.
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby Saim » Sat Jul 20, 2019 1:52 pm

iguanamon wrote:
Catalan
clothes hanger: penjador
shoestring: cordon


The singular form is actually cordó. The plural is cordons. This follows the same pattern as català/catalans, castellà/castellàns, so/sons.

You’ve probably realised this, but I’ll just point out that penjador is likely a Spanish calque. Penjar is the equivalent of colgar (in Catalan colgar means “to bury”).
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby Gòl·lum » Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:59 am

iguanamon wrote:You don't need a word or phrases for a situation until... you do. I blew out the sole of my shoe in Brazil and needed to buy a pair of shoes. The pair I was interested in buying came with yellow shoestrings and I wanted black. I didn't know the word for shoestrings and had to circumlocute to get the word. A few days ago, a friend asked me how to say "cheers" in Haitian Creole. I had no idea because I'd never drank with anyone in HC or toasted. There are all kinds of situations for which I would be inadequate in most of my languages- dealing with cars, plumbing, household repairs, etc. ... because I have never had to do that in those languages. I have dealt with them in Spanish and Portuguese to some extent. I know the words for clothes hanger(s) "percha" and "colgador de ropa" in Spanish and "cabides" in Portuguese", but I don't know it in my other languages.

Probably most of us here on the forum live outside of TL countries and live without native-speakers as significant others. This doesn't seem to stop us from having a never ending quest for the seemingly elusive native-like command of a language we are learning. Ironically, if someone had told me when I was a monolingual learning my first L2 that I would be able to communicate in most situations with relative ease but still wouldn't be able to get my car repaired or know the words for shoestrings or clothes hanger, I would have been thrilled. I have no real need to learn about clothes hangers in Ladino, Haitian Creole, or Lesser Antilles French Creole and haven't run across the word to this day in my conversations, reading or media.

The good thing about reaching a high level is a learner can ask for what they don't know or research it and learn it when or if they may need to know it. So, to answer the OP- yes, a learner can reach C2 without a native-level immersion. It's done all the time. Can a learner reach a "native-like" level without a native-level immersion? No, not if being able to deal with any situation that may come up in a typical life is required. If a learner isn't in the situation to need the vocabulary or expressions required, it is difficult to artificially learn them. We may use shoestrings and hangers every day, but they are not a topic of everyday conversation. Neither are we likely to come across those words in our everyday reading, listening or watching media. I'm ok with it. I have no shame in not knowing them in all of my languages... but I'll probably go and look them up now! :lol:

Edit:
Haitian Creole:
clothes hanger: sèso; chèso
shoestring: lasèt

Lesser Antilles French Creole/Kwéyòl
clothes hanger: ouvè la
shoestring: fisèl soulyé la

Ladino/Djudeo-espanyol
clothes hanger: enforkador de ropa
shoestring: kuedra de sapato

Edit 2:
Catalan
clothes hanger: penjador
shoestring: cordon



I think it's very difficult to learn certain words or expressions unless you interact with native speakers. You may try to learn them by heart, but you'll likely forget them if you never have the chance to use them in real life. There's a big difference between studying a language in a classroom and using it in real life. Only a small percentage of people have the opportunity or are willing to interact with native speakers. Most just enroll in a language course because they want a certificate, and realize their level is not as good as they thought once they travel to the country/countries where it is spoken. That said, you may be asked to produce spontaneous speech in the advanced/proficiency level exam, like to crack a joke. Fortunately, there are many ways to communicate the same thing, so maybe it's not a big deal if you don't know the exact words. This is the case of a friend of mine that is fluent in both English and Italian. A teacher once told him in an English oral test that his vocabulary was rather narrow, but he said everything perfectly. I guess this part also depends on one's personality: some people are more of perfectionists and want to know every word, while others use words more efficiently.
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby IronMike » Tue Jul 30, 2019 7:12 pm

drp9341 wrote:
When I was younger, a relative gave me this book for Italian.
Image


On your trip, did anyone tell you your Italian sounded like Spanish? :lol:
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby nooj » Wed Jul 31, 2019 2:28 am

Saim wrote:Penjar is the equivalent of colgar (in Catalan colgar means “to bury”).

Not sure if this is also said in other parts of the Catalan speaking world, but in Mallorca, colgar-se means to go to bed, go to sleep. :D
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby Saim » Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:46 am

nooj wrote:
Saim wrote:Penjar is the equivalent of colgar (in Catalan colgar means “to bury”).

Not sure if this is also said in other parts of the Catalan speaking world, but in Mallorca, colgar-se means to go to bed, go to sleep. :D


Not in Catalonia as far as I’m aware. The default way would probably just be anar-se’n al llit, anar-se’n a dormir (or clapar). You could say estirar-se or allitar-se but that’s more about lying down, and the second one I’ve mostly (only?) heard as a euphemism for sex.
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Re: How far can you progress without immersion of some sort?

Postby sirgregory » Wed Jul 31, 2019 10:35 pm

I believe the ideal pathway is something like the following.

Stage 1) Study the basics of the language (non-immersive)
Stage 2) Immersion
Stage 3) Advanced study and reading (literary skills, need not be immersive)

I think the details are pretty flexible and most people will do whatever's practical rather than strive for some hypothetical optimum. If you've signed up for study abroad, the time table will be determined for you. In contrast, if you can only manage a few weeks abroad at a time, then you have to work within those constraints. The first stage could be brief and intensive (say one month) and the immersion could be introduced early. Alternatively, the first stage could be done more leisurely (a year or two) followed by a briefer immersion period.

The question raised here is an interesting one: What happens when this immersive period is reduced to zero? Or, a bit differently, what can be achieved without interacting with any native speakers? I would not presume to declare what is possible, but I will say that the typical experience will be for people to plod along in stage one and never learn the language. The immersion is beneficial for several reasons. First, if nothing else it provides strong motivation for your stage one studies. Second, it forces you into the thick of things rather than letting you wait until you feel "ready." Third, the high-volume, high-frequency practice seems to be the absolute best way to get over the hump that separates people who "know" a language from those who don't.

Traditionally, absent some immersive opportunity, you'd have to opt for a more literary approach with a focus on reading and grammar, rather like studying a classical language. Speaking and listening skills would be lacking, but you'd be well positioned to activate the language in the event if you were to ever get the chance to practice it. This is essentially reversing stages two and three above.

The modern age of copious multimedia of course opens up additional possibilities. One could in theory imbibe thousands of hours of native speech. Could this do the job? Or is actual interaction in the language an essential ingredient? I don't know. But I suspect it would be difficult for most people to endure that much media, especially with no external pressure or necessity.
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