Back to the roots and water them with coffee

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Cavesa
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
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Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (passive advanced, active basic)
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Cavesa » Thu Nov 26, 2020 7:33 pm

Sometimes, people ask about progress beyond C2. We all know that C2 is still far away from a native in some ways, and that there are important differences between the individual advanced non natives. Even the CEFR creators know and have mentioned it in their public reports, it's just too complicated and not economicaly viable to create a new exam fo C3 or D1.

It's been more than a year, since I've moved to France. And today, I passed a sort of a C3 speakng exam. :-) I am proud of myself, it's something I couldn't have done that well a year ago. By far! And it shows a lot of growth in terms of the language use, personal development, professional skill, and all that mixed together. I guess it's not that weird. Up to C1/C2, the language is catching up with the rest of your intelligence and character. After a certain point, you're growing together. My story is also a satisfying "I told you so" situation, truth be told :-D

It is a bit hard to describe, but extremely briefly and superficially and language oriented-ly: a difficult patient with tons of demands and a huge ego, who is used to speaking over people, being their superior, Mr.Director, thinking he always knows the best despite his current situation proving the opposite. His previous stay was difficult, and the same attitude issues have been described by various professionals. He was the only patient in over a year, who made me lose my composure (and trust me, not for the lack of trying from the rest) a few weeks ago. At one point, it was the only way to not yield to his demands (immediate attention to his whims instead of the more urgent matters at hand). I even had to shout over him (because he simply didn't let me say a single word for a looooong time, unless it would be to comply and obey. I don't think he would be just as rude towards my older male colleagues, especially the 2m tall one). He asked for an early discharge,and I did my job informing him about the risks and the appropriate follow up outside the hospital. It was a very unpleasant situation.

But today, he came back and not in a good shape (due to lots of "I told you so" factors). Our conversation started like "There is no point in talking, as I certainly don't want you as my doctor" and "I don't want you as my patient either, but it's my turn to do the admission, so we'll just have to deal with each other for now", but I got him talking, the examination fulfilled all the purposes, I managed to clarify the relationship between him and the hospital staff, put him in line, explain things and give examples, answer his questions well (both the very good ones, and those just used as an attempt to assert dominance). I may have been the first person in years, to be rather strict with him. We got through the talk, and he thanked me a few times by the end, and sounded honest (he isn't used to just being polite). And the nurse present complimented me on how well I handled the situation. I think I've prepared a bit more solid ground for the next doctor, who will be in charge of him.

So, I feel proud of this achievement. It is just one situation (and you may find it not that impressive. Less than the patient who got better thanks to a treatment I had chosen and prescribed. I saw one of these today as well), but it is an example of a very intense situation and a language challenge, rich in emotion and context, requiring advanced comprehension, persuasion, and nuanced speech skills. And something I couldn't have achieved even half as well a year ago.

Back to the original reason to share this: my progress "beyond" the C2:

-6 months on Erasmus, those had barely left a scratch. But 13 months here, with my language skills really being a huge part of my job every day, that's very different

-my comprehension skills haven't improved, they were already hitting the ceiling before moving abroad. Of course I still miss a word sometimes, that's ok, I'll keep learning till the day I die.

-my vocabulary has improved a bit. Some colloquial stuff, some formal stuff that should be taught in the coursebooks but isn't, and quite a lot of stuff that the beginners tend to despise as "the boring useless lists to memorise". Be humble, you might need the vocab one day. I've also learnt tons of professional vocabulary, that I don't even know in Czech. :-D

-my grammar was already very good, it is now in some ways better, but I have also acquired or solidified some mistakes (and I speak worse, when I am really tired). It needs maintenance. Grammar matters a lot and affects the so called "fluency". It is a huge part of speaking with enough nuance and precision. And it is a part of making a good impression. Sure, you may learn it differently from me (tons of exercise books+tons of input), but I don't agree with the "you don't need it" opinions. You either learn it, or you'll forever underperform and look less intelligent. And most people can only profit from opening a grammarbook and clarifying some stuff, few people can learn it well without ever opening the unpopular books.

-I am a better storyteller in French now, and my sense of humour is almost unlimited by my language skills (if you find it bad, it is either the quality of my jokes or you, but my French is not to blame!). But this is still something to improve. And actually, I think partially memorising a dictionary (a long dreamed project, that I haven't started yet) could really help me get even better. Rich vocab is important. People socialise a lot by sharing what exactly did their cat do this time, which car part they need to get fixed, or what type of shoes or garden tools they've bought in sales, or why exactly is Louise from the other bureau so annoying :-D . The basic and intermediate strategies of avoiding a word, those won't do anymore. The tons of "worthless and rare" words can make the whole difference between a boring beginner exercise, and a fascinating little anecdote from your life.

-my writing skills are MUCH better, but it's almost exclusively medical writing and email writing. The disparity between my spoken French (better) and written French hasn't changed that much.
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PeterMollenburg
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby PeterMollenburg » Fri Nov 27, 2020 6:33 am

Cavesa wrote:Sometimes, people ask about progress beyond C2.....


Excellent post! Motivating, insightful, interesting, relevant (medical field, advanced French). It's awesome what you have achieved and thank you for being bold enough to say what is valuable beyond C2 no matter what the resource. Well done, btw Cavesa with your linguistic and professional abilities to get through to the stubborn patient. You are setting the bar higher for me. Thanks for sharing!
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Montmorency
Brown Belt
Posts: 1035
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:01 pm
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Languages: English (Native)
Maintaining: German (active skills lapsed somewhat).
Studying: Welsh (advanced beginner/intermediate);
Dabbling/Beginner: Czech

Back-burner: Spanish (intermediate) Norwegian (bit more than beginner) Danish (beginner).

Have studied: Latin, French, Italian, Dutch; OT Hebrew (briefly) NT Greek (briefly).
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1429
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Montmorency » Fri Nov 27, 2020 1:33 pm

I agree with Peter. By the way Cavesa, after that excellent description, I think you should consider awarding yourself a C2 at least in written English.
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Carmody
Brown Belt
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Carmody » Fri Nov 27, 2020 4:00 pm

Cavesa
I passed a sort of a C3 speakng exam.

Could you describe the exam in greater detail?

Cavesa
I never cease to be totally amazed by your written English. It has a rhythm, tone, and cadence that is so totally native English speaking as to be truly masterful. Congratulations!
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PeterMollenburg
Black Belt - 2nd Dan
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby PeterMollenburg » Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:34 am

Carmody wrote:
Cavesa
I passed a sort of a C3 speakng exam.

Could you describe the exam in greater detail?


Hi Carmody. I don't believe Cavesa meant it literally, but rather from the situations she has been able to communicate highly effectively in, which are in a way proof of a much improved level of French akin to a kind of 'C3 exam'. That as well as an improved vocabulary level, improved writing, able to be humurous without limitation and other general improvements. Thus, the detail of the 'C3 exam' is in the situation described. I stand to be corrected if I misunderstood.
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Chmury
Green Belt
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Polski - currently inactive, but I will return to it
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1516
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Chmury » Sat Nov 28, 2020 9:07 am

Wonderful, uplifting, and just all round lovely post Cavesa. Congratulations on all the progress you've made with your French. Truly inspiring and makes me want to move to a foreign country to have similarly rich, immersive experiences.

And I totally agree regarding what you said about once one has reached a C2 level; those rare gems of words which you may ever only pull out a handful of times in a year, or that very seldomly used grammatical construct, those begin to become what progress looks like when you're already so advanced in a language and also what could be the difference between colouring a conversation or interaction one way or the other. And what an exciting stage to be at in a language, where you're completely confident in all the essentials and can now focus on and savour all those fascinating details and shades of difference in meaning and use between words. Congratulations again!
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Cavesa
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3949
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Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (passive advanced, active basic)
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Cavesa » Sat Nov 28, 2020 2:35 pm

Thank you all! I wouldn't have gotten to this point without the support of this community. I wouldn't have reached C2 without you, or aimed for even more. I wouldn't have tried the other languages, which are so precious and useful to me, even though I am by far not that good at them.

PeterMollenburg wrote: It's awesome what you have achieved and thank you for being bold enough to say what is valuable beyond C2 no matter what the resource. Well done, btw Cavesa with your linguistic and professional abilities to get through to the stubborn patient. You are setting the bar higher for me. Thanks for sharing!

Thank you! But your bar is already very high and inspiring!

Montmorency wrote:I agree with Peter. By the way Cavesa, after that excellent description, I think you should consider awarding yourself a C2 at least in written English.

I actually got the C2 writing note ten years ago, when I was taking my CAE. It was my best skill. If I took such an exam today, I'd very probably get C2 in most parts, but very probably not in speaking, so I don't really feel like publicly overestimating the overall level :-) But you are very kind, thank you!

Carmody wrote:I never cease to be totally amazed by your written English. It has a rhythm, tone, and cadence that is so totally native English speaking as to be truly masterful. Congratulations!

Thank you! One day, I hope to find time for some creative writing as a hobby. About the "C3 exam": PM understood it right. There is no such an exam, but the situation I faced was definitely that "level" :-) Well beyond the standard for just passing C2. There is a whole world of abilities to acquire and explore after C2.

It sometimes amuses me (and sometimes annoys me), that the general language learning public (both online and offline) counts only with the pleasant situations. They talk about getting your post across, about some rich friendly discussions, and so on. They even recommend each other to just avoid the mean and judgemental people. Those, who will treat you as less intelligent, and who will abuse your language weaknesses to win an argument. But those are not always avoidable. Nor should you always try. They are a part of life and the real "language exam".

Chmury wrote:Wonderful, uplifting, and just all round lovely post Cavesa. Congratulations on all the progress you've made with your French. Truly inspiring and makes me want to move to a foreign country to have similarly rich, immersive experiences.

And I totally agree regarding what you said about once one has reached a C2 level; those rare gems of words which you may ever only pull out a handful of times in a year, or that very seldomly used grammatical construct, those begin to become what progress looks like when you're already so advanced in a language and also what could be the difference between colouring a conversation or interaction one way or the other. And what an exciting stage to be at in a language, where you're completely confident in all the essentials and can now focus on and savour all those fascinating details and shades of difference in meaning and use between words. Congratulations again!


Thank you. I'll never regret, it has been an extremely valuable year, even though with a price to pay and definitely something I hadn't expected (or chosen). I am packing my stuff and looking forward to the next adventure, in hopes it will finally be something stable.

It's definitely an exciting stage, but it makes the moments of "failure" more uncomfortable :-D Because I fail sometimes of course. There is a lot left to learn. And I may be setting the bar for my other languages a bit too high as a result too :-)
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Cavesa
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3949
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:46 am
Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (passive advanced, active basic)
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Cavesa » Sat Nov 28, 2020 5:27 pm

an unrelated note: I found a nice stand up comedian in Italian, enjoying her "Lezioni pratiche di giapponese", her name is Yoko Yamada. Btw do we have a list of stand up comedians in various languages somewhere on the forums? We definitely should!
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Cavesa
Black Belt - 3rd Dan
Posts: 3949
Joined: Mon Jul 20, 2015 9:46 am
Languages: Czech (N), English (C1), French (C2), Spanish (intermediate), German (somewhere on the path), Italian (passive advanced, active basic)
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Cavesa » Sat Nov 28, 2020 8:02 pm

Another unrelated note: there are some resource sales online during this weekend (it is part of the tradition of american original called "the Black Friday". might be fun to describe it the way we tend to present to each other the religion based traditions btw).

So, I am getting a lifetime subscription to Clozemaster 50%off, so 70 dollars, that's ok. I got my bf a Speechling subscription with 25% off, and there is 25% of Kwiziq too.

I've been ignoring the Memrise offer, because I don't think there is any value to Memrise Pro now (but there could be, if they implemented at least a few things the users have been asking for since forever. You know, stuff like fixing the search function and filter system, to really find what you need without spending a life time trying).

I'm pretty excited about Clozemaster, it will be a huge help on my German learning path, but also Hebrew, and any other language I can think of.
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Montmorency
Brown Belt
Posts: 1035
Joined: Tue Oct 06, 2015 3:01 pm
Location: Oxfordshire, UK
Languages: English (Native)
Maintaining: German (active skills lapsed somewhat).
Studying: Welsh (advanced beginner/intermediate);
Dabbling/Beginner: Czech

Back-burner: Spanish (intermediate) Norwegian (bit more than beginner) Danish (beginner).

Have studied: Latin, French, Italian, Dutch; OT Hebrew (briefly) NT Greek (briefly).
Language Log: viewtopic.php?f=15&t=1429
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Re: Back to the roots and water them with coffee

Postby Montmorency » Sun Nov 29, 2020 2:09 pm

Cavesa wrote:an unrelated note: I found a nice stand up comedian in Italian, enjoying her "Lezioni pratiche di giapponese", her name is Yoko Yamada. Btw do we have a list of stand up comedians in various languages somewhere on the forums? We definitely should!


Henning Wehn is a German stand-up comic who has made something of a career for himself in the UK (where he enjoys stretching the UK stereotypical perception that "Germans don't have a sense of humour" [apologies here to Germans on behalf of my more ignorant compatriots]).

https://peoplepill.com/people/henning-wehn/


Some years ago, BBC TV did a (now increasingly rare) foreign-language focused series on people (UK "celebs") who learned (or improved) their command of a specific foreign language in order to carry out a specific job or function. I think one was a football manager, another a TV presenter or journalist. The latter successfully later took part in a TV interview (more of a round table discussion) for a French TV station.

But one was a stand-up comedian, and he had to perform his act (or his "set") in French to a French audience. I don't know how good he really was, but he "got away with it". I can't recall his name for the time being (it may come back to me; ah yes, it might have been Marcus Brigstocke), and I'm not sure if he continued to work in French, or whether it was simply a stunt for this series.

Oh yes, found it here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Brigstocke

He took part in the BBC Two programme Excuse My French (2006) with Ron Atkinson and Esther Rantzen. They were immersed in the French language by staying in a French town in Provence. Brigstocke's ultimate assignment was to perform a live stand-up comedy act in French to a French audience.


(I hadn't quite remembered the details correctly, but c'est la vie :-) )

It was in effect a "reality show", the kind of thing I generally hate, as it's usually a pitifully poor excuse for lack of creativity, but as it was about language learning (or improving), I gave it a pass. :-)
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