As a disclaimer, I have only achieved an advanced level in reading, listening and vocab (both active and passive) in one language (ES), so my comments do not apply to general output. Given that, I would:rdearman wrote:I'm not new to this language learning game. I consider myself intermediate level, not bad but not great in French & Italian.
What was the single most important thing that helped you get from intermediate to advanced?
Code: Select all
select top (1) language as [target]
where current_level = 'intermediate'
order by personal_desire desc
Then: actively seek and consume almost exclusively harder materials in your chosen study area using a mix of intensive and extensive work to fill out an awesome and rewarding language routine. I would find one of my strongest areas (reading/vocab for example) and push them to the point where there wasn't really anywhere to push that wasn't off a cliff of insanity. Often, I like to make my strong points really strong, even to the point that they can drag weaker areas up to advanced at the appropriate moment (keep in mind that you are headed to advanced in all areas, but that doesn't mean they all have to reach that point at once). The administrative time spent deciding what to read or listen to next is where you lock in the gains from the resource you plan to consume. How well you do making that choice puts a limit on what you take from it in terms of language acquisition.
To facilitate challenge, I would fill intensive hours first hierarchically. For example, if a candidate text resource was too easy for intensive reading, I checked to see whether it would be challenging enough to fit in the next most extensive bucket as an audiobook. In practice, many contemporary or 20th-century literary works fell into this category and I am fairly certain I listened to at least 100 such audiobooks in a reasonable stretch (3-6 months iirc) and was able to reach a level of [advanced in audiobook listening if such a thing existed]. It is just my opinion, but I doubt I could have replaced those audiobooks with either [TV or Podcasts] and came out with the same skill set (rather, all three in combination did it for me). In short, audiobook listening was requisite for what I wanted to achieve and how I wanted my advanced level to be expressed in terms of practical ability.
I consider high awareness and perhaps even a conscious pause and reflect around choosing that next most difficult resource combined with active prioritization of language studies over and above other life areas (temporary state but consider it a project and note that an overabundance of divided attention spent on unrelated projects would likely be a hindrance) is part and parcel to the matter.
From my perspective, seeking novelty and variety with discernment falls directly under the same umbrella and helps make sure I have coverage sufficient for an advanced level. Why not mention easier material at all? Because you can later mop that up almost as an afterthought and with much less effort (though you may need to devote quite a few hours). I will mention a listening example simply because it is an area Rick mentioned wanting to improve for French or Italian. In addition to audiobooks (and some tv), I found the most difficult material I could that was available in podcast format and in unlimited quantity (from ivoox, the motherload for ES podcast material). For me, that ended up being a mix of worlds but heavily focused on rapid-fire peninsular Spanish. I listened in 50-100 hour chunks and never went anywhere without my headphones until the speech became clear, idiolect by idiolect. That could have easily totalled 1000-1500 hours of podcasts alone. While it was extensive listening, the material was hard and I could and did grow into understanding it quite well, given that I had an overall language program that involves some output, lots of reading/audiobooks/direct vocab study and a modicum of grammar (plus other stuff I have now forgotten). When I chose material from other countries or regions, I still picked the hardest material I could find within reason.