garyb wrote:Maybe being too invested in one learning philosophy is a language learning weakness? I remember a poster on the old forum (whose name I forget) who was determined to stick to the input method: avoiding speaking German whenever possible despite living in Berlin with a German wife, and steadfastly refusing to study grammar even though he admitted his grammar was a major weak point. He was very frank about his results, and eventually admitted what most of us know: input gets you quite far but most learners need other work on top of it in order to become a competent speaker in a reasonable amount of time. He's just one data point of course, but probably the best-documented example we've had of someone persisting with very input-focused learning over several years.
Weird (and somehow flattering) to hear about myself in the third-person.
I would like to clarify things a little:
1. To date I have watched about 125000 hours of films/TV (about 1400 over five years) and read about 40000 pages of books (and of course listened to radio, read newspapers in my TL etc). This sounds like a lot, but I like reading books and watching TV! I have read 88 books in English this year, and for a few years just switched over to German, starting with Harry Potter and moving up. WRT TV it's about hour a day or a movie every couple of days.
2. My "experiment" was never pure. I did do German classes before I started mostly doing input, but just didn't find them very useful. I loath grammar drills and just didn't work for me. I used Anki for the first year to load up some vocabulary, and after 365 days officially retired my deck and just relied on reading (extensive/intensive) and watching TV. Other than that though I have only used input. I guess when I started I was at a false-beginner A1-level.
3. I have never avoided speaking German in Berlin. That would be verging on crazy. I am actually that guy who speaks German in cafes to other English-speaking expats much to their annoyance. I don't do this deliberately, it's just hard for me to switch over purely to English without some warming up. I mostly spoke English with my wife, but that's some sort of relationship thing; I mostly speak German with my daughter. With everyone else I speak German. However, before you are at B2-level most German speakers who can, will switch to English automatically when they realize that you are a non-native speaker.
4. While it sounds sort of cool to be "probably the best-documented example we've had of someone persisting with very input-focused learning over several years" this should be seen as patently false. I know lots of people who speak at C2 level in an L2 who learnt it largely using input approaches; there are certainly lots of people on this forum and HTLAL who quite inspirational for me in this regard when starting out.
5. Overall my German is at a high-intermediate/low-advanced level. For comprehension I am definitely advanced (somewhere in C1) for production (at least for speaking) more in the B2 range. I actually find it hard to judge production as I don't have any direct access to knowledge about German grammar - I say things and people tell me that I am mostly right and about B2 level, but who knows? When I stumble in conversations it's because I am lacking words or cultural references, not because I lack grammatical constructions.
6. I definitely think if you want to advance to C2 you need to produce a lot of output (specifically writing) and get extensive feedback on this. That's exactly what happened to me when I was at school and university. You can call this grammar study but it's more about learning style from intensive study.