Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

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PeterMollenburg
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Nov 14, 2017 6:57 pm

All this talk of people switching to English greatly disappoints me, and of course I’ve experienced this myself too. In New Caledonia it seems less likely than Europe. Just yesterday, in a very touristy situation on a small bus tour my family and I ended up on our own in the minibus with one other tourist. I ended up playing translator between the female driver and this guy as he launched questions at her and she was looking at me completely lost. Turns out she was filling in and that usually she just does the airport transfers and not the tours in which tourist locations are the objective.

In the Netherlands my wife and I regularly experienced locals switching, and at B1 that makes sense, and it was useful. After some months I was confidently able to avoid them switching or at least not until much later in the conversation. Sometimes, I would continue in Dutch and they would revert back to Dutch seeing that there was really no need for English.

Still, I would much rather a more balanced world. English is creeping in everwhere. Even Netflix is now doing it’s part to spread American cultural and linguistic influence. Music is already predominantly English everywhere, economics/business has seen English grow in the last couple of decades by leaps and bounds, and now American/English TV/cinema via another English dominated medium (the internet) among many other things, is set to drive the desire for the ‘cool’ in the young even further. Globish is well on its way, and I am not a fan.

Rdearman: Excellent advice. I’ll institute regular paid conversations in the near future indeed, as much (all actually) of your points talk a lot of sense. Thank you kind sir.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Xenops » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:57 pm

Someone would have to find the original post, but I think it was iguanaman that said “I would love to talk to anyone, in any language.” Being a language forum, obviously we like languages other than our own, but we have to remember the end goal is communication.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Nov 16, 2017 1:06 am

Xenops wrote:Someone would have to find the original post, but I think it was iguanaman that said “I would love to talk to anyone, in any language.” Being a language forum, obviously we like languages other than our own, but we have to remember the end goal is communication.


Yes and no (imo). Human beings (the way the majority of us are now) will exploit things (sometimes by choice, but mostly by default through the way that we choose to live our lives). Everything has become a commodity in the world of economics and thus to ensure survival, there needs to be a degree of protectionism, so that in the search for money, everything isn’t destroyed in the procesd, there needs to be a sense of value in diversity. I’d imagine, like an ecosystem, the entire planet has a tipping point. Enough ecosystems collapse, there’s likely a very poor future for the planet. If we didn’t value nature then look out planet earth and if we are not careful with regards to language and culture - equate them to ecosystems the cultural and linguistic diversity of the planet fade into oblivion. I think each an every cultural and language has a right to survival and globish will threaten them all given enough time and freedom if the forces behind it continue to grow.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby PeterMollenburg » Thu Nov 16, 2017 3:12 am

I’ve been reading and re-reading this thread a lot. I’m impatient and frustrated (I’m not blaming outside factors as this is my journey and I recognize I’ve travelled a good way too). I do have a plan now though, as sooner or later I need to get down to business (starting in a few days). 2 courses to plow through with a different approach (not looking up words every two seconds) then je mettrai le cap sur le territoire natif. I’m still really wanting to get back to Dutch and the only way to hold it back is to reach C1 (then perhaps C2) very fast as I am getting tired of waiting. Unrealistic perhaps in 12 months, so I could add Dutch without passing C1, but I’ll certainly sit it (the exam) and from there, we’ll see.

Edit: Thanks everyone for the wealth of great advice and putting up with me despite perhaps frustrations from your perpective.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Sarafina » Mon Feb 12, 2018 3:21 pm

sillygoose1 wrote:I'm going to go against the grain a bit here. I don't think a C1 or a C2 takes as long as some people make it out to. Then again, I've had some different circumstances. I've stuck to French for three years before I started another language, about six years total now; I'm a young guy with no real responsibilities yet; and I continue to only focus on French a lot.

I could have achieved a higher level earlier. How? By not being afraid of failure early on and just diving right into it. One reason why it took me so long was because if I couldn't understand a dialogue in a show, I'd get frustrated and leave French for a few weeks. I babied myself way too much and didn't want to leave my comfort zone. I was scared that I was wasting time listening to material that I couldn't even understand. One day, I said the hell with this and just decided to marathon a few series because I wanted to see them and there were no subs available in English. After about 50 episodes, everything was clear to me. I caught on and did the same with novels. 500 pages didn't scare me anymore and I learned a lot of vocab. Then I just started to get bored and watch movies. Now I can understand like 90-95% of what I watch in French from shows like Engrenages and Braquo to standup comedy to movies. The marathon of movies, books, and series took me about 6 months. But as I said, I was out of school and work for medical reasons and had literally nothing else to do. I probably reached a higher level in less than 6 months but I didn't notice because it was fun.

Basically, you need to stop "studying." It's time to bust out of your shell and get into it. Pick up some classic literature, watch an easy sitcom then progress onto harder material. I'd recommend H and Nos chers voisins.


That's my exact problem. When I watch a challenging TV series in French and I come across a wall of dialogue that is incomprehensible to me. I get discouraged and avoid listening to French for days.
Did you have a specific listening strategy beyond just binge-watching TV series and movies?
Did you try to transcribe or repeat scenes over and over again if you didn't understand?
Which TV series did you marathon initially?
How hours per day did you spend just listening during that six month period?
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby sillygoose1 » Thu Feb 15, 2018 4:32 pm

Sarafina wrote:That's my exact problem. When I watch a challenging TV series in French and I come across a wall of dialogue that is incomprehensible to me. I get discouraged and avoid listening to French for days.
Did you have a specific listening strategy beyond just binge-watching TV series and movies?
Did you try to transcribe or repeat scenes over and over again if you didn't understand?
Which TV series did you marathon initially?
How hours per day did you spend just listening during that six month period?


Sorry for the late reply.

I didn't have a specific strategy. I'm someone who prefers extensive rather than intensive so I don't rewatch series or use flashcards or transcribe anything. I just bombarded myself with series of all levels. Un gars, une fille with Jean Dujardin and Alexandra Lamy, Camera Cafe, Scenes de Menage, Bref, and Kaamelott were first. With really short episode times. I remember that Bref was hard at first because of how fast he talks. Kaamelott was the most difficult at the time. You need to constantly push your limits but not too much.

I'd say there were days where I reached 5-6 hours a day but I always made sure to do at least 2 hours. I remember being mentally exhausted and light headed from it. I figured this was just my brain adapting to the language.

Films are going to be more difficult than TV series. For me, it's almost like a different skill. You could probably get away with light romcoms, but they will discourage you more until you can successfully understand a TV series. Also use novel length audiobooks without the text.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby NoManches » Mon Aug 13, 2018 2:02 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:I believe I'm at a B2 level (French). I think it's a pretty safe self assessment. I passed B1, I think 2 years ago now, or thereabouts. I've been studying a lot since, but getting a bit frustrated. Only recently did I say I'm able to weather the storm and not introduce any other languages yet, but I'm itching to introduce Dutch. Problem is, I don't want to hinder my French progress which is really feeling pretty ordinary lately (slow if progressing at all).

My aim was to sit the B2 in May 2017 for French (originally I thought I could reach C1/C2 in a year or even less with hard study- idiot!!!).


This is an old(er) thread, but a good one with lot's of great advice. I find myself referring to it quite often since I feel like I've been stuck between B2 and C1 forever.

I've noticed that when I have no goals in mind, I just use the langue and have a lot of fun doing it. With this "no goals" mentality, my progress isn't as fast as I'd like, but I'm having fun so who cares? When I give myself strict goals (i.e. I will take a C1 exam on this date), I find that I don't have as much fun (since I have to do the "not so fun things" to make improvements). I notice that I do make a lot of progress though, which is nice. However, it is only when I set strict goals when I can become frustrated with myself and not see any progress.

For a boost in self confidence, I highly recommend going back to a book or TV show that you found difficult when you first reached the B2 stage. You'll find that it's a lot easier now and your confidence will go up a ton.

The journey from B2-C1+ is long that it is hard to measure any progress that you are having.

Unlike you @PeterMollenburg, I've never been a big fan of courses, but I do like to take a structured approach for certain things. That's why I was such a big fan addict of anki (that's a whole different story). I've only had time to skim your log (and this post) since there is so much content in it, so please forgive me if I'm covering something that has been said or something that you currently do. But, if you like courses so much, why not work exclusively with materials designed to get you ready for the C1/C2 exam? I'm working with a few of these books now and I feel like they have pretty good structure, and one is best working systematically from the beginning to end of the book. This seems like a perfect thing for you. Maybe this idea has been mentioned before, and maybe it's something you have done or are currently doing.

Out of curiosity, what is the update since this was posted on December 5th, 2016. Did you find certain advice given to you worked or was able to help you out significantly? I guess I can always go through your log, but I've only had time to skim it since there is so much info. Not surprisingly, a lot of times when I do searches for things it comes back to a post in your log.

Keep up the good work and I can't wait to hear about all the progress you've made. *I do know that you are/were planning to sit on the exams in a few months from now, so I guess I'm asking for a pre-exam update* Are you still feeling frustrated or having the same problems you mentioned when this thread was made?

Sarafina wrote:
sillygoose1 wrote:I'm going to go against the grain a bit here. I don't think a C1 or a C2 takes as long as some people make it out to. Then again, I've had some different circumstances. I've stuck to French for three years before I started another language, about six years total now; I'm a young guy with no real responsibilities yet; and I continue to only focus on French a lot.

I could have achieved a higher level earlier. How? By not being afraid of failure early on and just diving right into it. One reason why it took me so long was because if I couldn't understand a dialogue in a show, I'd get frustrated and leave French for a few weeks. I babied myself way too much and didn't want to leave my comfort zone. I was scared that I was wasting time listening to material that I couldn't even understand. One day, I said the hell with this and just decided to marathon a few series because I wanted to see them and there were no subs available in English. After about 50 episodes, everything was clear to me. I caught on and did the same with novels. 500 pages didn't scare me anymore and I learned a lot of vocab. Then I just started to get bored and watch movies. Now I can understand like 90-95% of what I watch in French from shows like Engrenages and Braquo to standup comedy to movies. The marathon of movies, books, and series took me about 6 months. But as I said, I was out of school and work for medical reasons and had literally nothing else to do. I probably reached a higher level in less than 6 months but I didn't notice because it was fun.

Basically, you need to stop "studying." It's time to bust out of your shell and get into it. Pick up some classic literature, watch an easy sitcom then progress onto harder material. I'd recommend H and Nos chers voisins.


That's my exact problem. When I watch a challenging TV series in French and I come across a wall of dialogue that is incomprehensible to me. I get discouraged and avoid listening to French for days.
Did you have a specific listening strategy beyond just binge-watching TV series and movies?
Did you try to transcribe or repeat scenes over and over again if you didn't understand?
Which TV series did you marathon initially?
How hours per day did you spend just listening during that six month period?



I'm late to the discussion but oh well, maybe this will help somebody.

Even tot his day, if I watch a really cool show in Spanish and can't understand it, I get frustrated. I just started La Case de Papel on Netflix, which is a show many people recommend watching in ANY language, because it is such a badass show. Of course, I only want to watch it in Spanish, and not being able to comprehend it at 100% is frustrating.

What I recommend, is having a few different shows that you watch. Find one show that interests you or holds your attention (for me, lot's of action does the trick). Just watch the heck out of this show. Hopefully it's something that allows you to understand the plot without having to understand all of the dialog. You might have to search a bit to find a show with easy to understand dialog.

Then, find a show that you really, really like or want to watch. You can work intensively with this show. For me, I really like the shorter mini series on netflix (where each season has 13 episodes or so). At least with these shorter shows you see the light at the end of the tunnel and can easily re-watch an entire series within a relatively short period of time).

I think TV is best (as in, you'll see the most results) when you are at a solid intermediate level (in my opinion). For working intensively, I like to do the following:

Put the subtitles on in your TL, but no matter what you do, don't look at them! If there is a wall of dialog you don't understand, rewind to the part right when the subtitles pop up but the character has't said anything yet. Hit pause. Read the subtitles, look up words, understand everything. Then, while NOT READING the subtitles, hit play and listen. You should be able to understand at 100% with no problems. If your level is already high enough, doing this for a few episodes (will take a long time), but your comprehension for that show will skyrocket.

A few other things, if you are having trouble reading and understanding the subtitles, then you won't be able to understand the show without them. This means you need to work on your reading comprehension or find an easier show. If you can read and understand the subtitles, but not understand the dialog, then you need more listening practice.


So to summarize, have a show that is interesting to you but you don't care about understanding at 100%. Binge watch this show. Find another show that you care about, something where you want to understand everything. Work intensively with it. Don't get discouraged if you can't understand something....and DEFINITELY do not stop listening for a few days simply because you were overwhelmed. Remember that every single second you listen to something in your TL, it is helping you. It doesn't matter if you are understanding all of it or not. Every single second you spend listening to something in your native language, is a second you missed out on where you could have been improving your TL comprehension.

Just realized that this is off topic of the original thread, but since this is an old thread that nobody has posted on in a while I'll just leave it :D
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Cavesa » Tue Aug 14, 2018 7:16 pm

NoManches wrote:Put the subtitles on in your TL, but no matter what you do, don't look at them! If there is a wall of dialog you don't understand, rewind to the part right when the subtitles pop up but the character has't said anything yet. Hit pause. Read the subtitles, look up words, understand everything. Then, while NOT READING the subtitles, hit play and listen. You should be able to understand at 100% with no problems. If your level is already high enough, doing this for a few episodes (will take a long time), but your comprehension for that show will skyrocket.


And how do you do that?

I really don't know.

1.I cannot just turn off reading, can people normally do that? Have the text there, so close to what they are looking at, and not read? My inability to turn that reading part of my cortex off is one of the reasons why I don't stick to subtitles but I am curious whether I am simply an exception failing at a normal task.

2.A very recent reminder of why I simply had to improve while skipping the subtitles in my previous languages: looking for subtitles is awful. It takes ages and the result is still not guaranteed. They are rarely precise, sometimes I can simply find none for the series and episode I am watching, and the timing is sometimes not that great either.

So the lazy person's way: just become more frustration-proof and don't bother using them. Focus for a few episodes and you'll notice some improvement. Don't expect instant results, there is no such a thing.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Mista » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:22 pm

Cavesa wrote:
NoManches wrote:Put the subtitles on in your TL, but no matter what you do, don't look at them! If there is a wall of dialog you don't understand, rewind to the part right when the subtitles pop up but the character has't said anything yet. Hit pause. Read the subtitles, look up words, understand everything. Then, while NOT READING the subtitles, hit play and listen. You should be able to understand at 100% with no problems. If your level is already high enough, doing this for a few episodes (will take a long time), but your comprehension for that show will skyrocket.


And how do you do that?

I really don't know.

1.I cannot just turn off reading, can people normally do that? Have the text there, so close to what they are looking at, and not read? My inability to turn that reading part of my cortex off is one of the reasons why I don't stick to subtitles but I am curious whether I am simply an exception failing at a normal task.


I lived in the US for two years as a child, and during that period, I never saw a subtitle, because there was never any non-American programs on TV or any non-American movies at the cinema. In Norway, on the other hand, all the cool stuff on TV was subtitled, so I started reading them when I was around 8-9 years old. For me, that means I read subtitles without even knowing that I'm doing it, until something is mistranslated - or is misleading for some other reason. A classic example of the latter would be when, on Top Gear, they give the miles per gallon, and the subs give the liters per km, and when they have compared two cars, I have NO IDEA which of them is the more energy efficient, because one of the numbers went up and the other went down, and I can't tell the two apart.

I often hear, however, not only Americans, but also Germans, for example, complaining about how annoying subtitles are. This clearly shows, at least, that they deal with the subtitles on a conscious level, because how else would they be annoyed by them. I only get annoyed when something is wrong with the subtitles, because that's when I notice they are there. I think the main factor is how often I have watched stuff with subtitles in my life, rather that any peculiarities in my brain.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby NoManches » Tue Aug 14, 2018 8:51 pm

Cavesa wrote:
NoManches wrote:Put the subtitles on in your TL, but no matter what you do, don't look at them! If there is a wall of dialog you don't understand, rewind to the part right when the subtitles pop up but the character has't said anything yet. Hit pause. Read the subtitles, look up words, understand everything. Then, while NOT READING the subtitles, hit play and listen. You should be able to understand at 100% with no problems. If your level is already high enough, doing this for a few episodes (will take a long time), but your comprehension for that show will skyrocket.


And how do you do that?

I really don't know.

1.I cannot just turn off reading, can people normally do that? Have the text there, so close to what they are looking at, and not read? My inability to turn that reading part of my cortex off is one of the reasons why I don't stick to subtitles but I am curious whether I am simply an exception failing at a normal task.

2.A very recent reminder of why I simply had to improve while skipping the subtitles in my previous languages: looking for subtitles is awful. It takes ages and the result is still not guaranteed. They are rarely precise, sometimes I can simply find none for the series and episode I am watching, and the timing is sometimes not that great either.

So the lazy person's way: just become more frustration-proof and don't bother using them. Focus for a few episodes and you'll notice some improvement. Don't expect instant results, there is no such a thing.



I should mention that 99% of the time I don't use the subtitles. I stopped using them years ago and think most learner's will see faster results if they force themselves to listen rather than read. Unfortunately, I watched my first TV show in Spanish (I think more than 70 episodes) with the subtitles turned on for almost the entire show.

At my current level, I can usually understand enough of the show where i don't feel the need to rewind and hear everything. Sometimes I do need to rewind to catch something I had trouble hearing. Usually I can rewind and understand it on the second try without subtitles, but not always. Lately I have been introducing myself to new accents and new shows that have been challenging my listening skills. In these cases, I'll rewind and then put the subtitles on to read what was said if I can't make it out. The only reason I recommended putting the subtitles on and keeping them on (if you plan on working intensively), is because it is a huge pain in the butt to rewind, pause, turn the subtitles on, hit play, pause, turn subtitles off again, and then resume with your show

I've found that if I'm going to watch a show intensively then it saves a lot of time to just keep the subtitles on and try to not look at them, rather than turning them on and off. When I do this though, I've found that I'm actually looking away from the TV some of the time really trying to hear and comprehend everything. It's almost as if I'm turning my ear to the TV to maximize what my ears can pick up and I'm staring off in the distance like I'm trying to pick up a faint noise miles away. It sounds stupid, it's not as fun, it's a bit tedious, and you might miss out on some visual clues...but it works! (At least it has been working for me). Also, don't fall under the impression that I'm constantly

But you are absolutely right, if you have the subtitles on it is hard to not look at them. I catch myself doing it from time to time. I remember reading about the "telenovela method" which is a neat way of learning Spanish with telenovelas. The creator used to watch movies on his laptop, and would use a folded piece of paper to cover the subtitles (because like you said, it's really hard to not look at them).

But to comment on what you wrote, I don't think you are failing at an easy task at all. It's just normal to look at the subtitles..I just try to avoid it the best I can when I'm watching a show intensively.

For Spanish, I've found that most shows on Netflix are incredibly accurate with the subtitles. I think I was watching Gran Hotel and the subtitles weren't perfect, but they contained more than enough where I was able to make out the parts that were giving me trouble. I've watched a few shows on Univision that had decent subtitles. Not perfect but enough to help the language learner. I really am fortunate that there is a lot of Spanish programming with decent subtitles

I normally like your "lazy person way" but there are some shows out there that I really want to watch but my comprehension isn't good enough to fully enjoy them. For this reason, I work intensively with those shows so I can at least better train my ear to the actors/accents.
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