PeterMollenburg wrote:Still, I'm not trying to disregard the important anecdotal evidence in his claims, as I have suspected a similar concept - that multiple languages in the earlier stages is fine, but how does one push them all simultaneously past the intermediate plateau onto more advanced levels? It seems your quote enzelne of Arguelles holds the answer: you can't, or if we assume you can if you stick at it long enough, then we have an answer with regards to efficiency: it's terribly inefficient.
So, can we potentially conclude the it might be more efficient to study three languages simultaneously at the beginning levels, but as our comprehension grows and we continue along this path towards 'advanced', we need more and more time with the language to advance further. Yeah?
Additionally, we might as well then start off focusing on one language from the beginning as we are only going to have to drop two at some point if we want to reach C1 or beyond. So it seems again to be more efficient to focus on one language at a time if we aim to reach C1 or beyond.
If I recall he did have to focus on each one with more daily hours to push past an intermediate plateau. Russian is the example I'm the most familiar with, but after going through the Assimil Russisch ohne mühe
a few times as well as whatever other workbooks up to the point that he was doing bilingual literature readings, he would spend most of the day focused on Russian. This was also especially in preparation for a month-long homestay in St. Petersburg.
He talks a lot about the difference between passive & active as well. You can gain probably a quite impressive passive reading knowledge of several languages over the course of time with short daily bursts of activity. To make that active though you must spend more time doing so and actually live in a place or speak with people. Of the three "exotic" languages he was focused on in Korea (Persian, Arabic, Hindi/Urdu), he felt Arabic was at the bottom of the heap until he moved to Lebanon. Very quickly it moved to the top, and it took that level of exposure to bring all that passive knowledge to life (& probably get it to stick better in the long run).This also relates to what I think most would agree on, which is that the "B" range of CEFR is the most one can hope for with isolated self-study.
If we are talking about C1 and beyond, then that does require a more significant amount of work. As for Prof Arguelles as far as I can tell he can do English, French, German, Korean, & Arabic at that level. I chose these because he has lived and worked in them for extended periods of time, meaning they can be activated at a high level rather instantaneously. He can read a novel in Faroese but has probably never spoken it with anyone, and certainly wouldn't necessarily be able to hop in to a conversation with educated native speakers on some advanced topic as with those first five. He bought a car in Lebanon using only Portuguese as the manner of conversation, and seemed to be satisfied with the purchase months after the fact, but again would probably not hope to have an advanced conversation on demand.
I think what he suggests is that maybe spending a week in the Faroe Islands or Brazil could prepare him for a discussion at an academic conference or something, but has never tried it, and that is a difference. Those languages are also related to ones he knows very well (and consistently calls dialects of each other). I would assume that it would take something on the order of weeks or months in Iran or India to get those languages to an appropriate level. I also think that if, now being in America, he stopped reading Arabic literature or listening to Arabic broadcasts or corresponding with Arab colleagues for an extended period of time, it might take days or weeks to return to that level (but probably not months).
I've quoted you David1917, but I've bolded a particularly interesting line and further underlined what most caught my attention within that sentence. Given you seem to feel that with isolated self-study
one might very well struggle to reach the C-levels, this leads me to the question then, what is isolated self-study
in your opinion? Do you mean someone studying for a few hours or more every single day, but isolated
because they are not in the country in which the language is spoken or by isolated
did you mean 'sporadic'?
I guess what I'm leading to is that there seem to be (my impression could be wrong), a handful of people who have indeed managed to pass C-level language exams while living in a country where the language in which they have passed the test in is not spoken much at all by the local population (example=
in the Czech Republic). Perhaps I've misunderstood you or perhaps you are aware that this is the case and that you were generalising because it is a rare achievement.
The reason I'm pondering all this, and this is where I'll get a bit more general - and drift from your particular comments - is that my situation is specific and while I conclude that it's likely superior to continue with one language at a time, I find myself questioning this again. Not because I desperately have a serious case of wanderlust and just want to justify studying more languages, but for another reason. If reaching C levels are almost impossible, then why focus only on one language?
Furthermore, my family has become multilingual. English nowadays is my children's strongest language, with French hot on it's heels (especially with my eldest), Dutch in growing in presence to the extent my children can communicate with me in the language on a semi-regular basis with a little encouragement and their aural comprehension of the language is growing to the extent that one of my children who originally rejected the language is now rather content with being able to use and understand another language in a manner I'd call age-appropriate basic fluency. Now Spanish is also entering the picture, albeit in a very small way, just here and there. All the while I'm focusing in my time on pushing my French further to the elusive C-levels and doing so takes all of my independent language learning time up.
What's my point? Well my children are growing up and I feel it's best to introduce them to new languages while they're still young. Doing so will ensure the uptake of new vocabulary and expressing new phonetics with go smoother. If I take several years to get to C2 in French and in that time my eldest is almost a teenager, it will be quite some time before I can introduce Spanish to them in a more serious way, or feel more confident with more advanced conversations in Dutch or even consider trying them with Norwegian. I need to study these languages a little bit here and there to feel more confident with advancing along with the children while using these languages. Although I'm not speaking Spanish with them, I am reading stories, and that's okay, no problem, but a bit of grammar and vocab study here and there wouldn't hurt for example. I cannot introduce any light reading in Norwegian (so the language has zero presence currently), unless I feel more confident with the phonetics. For that I need a bit of study time. Given my family's multilingual situation is important, I feel I'm best to keep French as my main focus (like Arguelles did with Russian) and dabble in the other languages.
I don't drop French, I don't render it less important, the C-level achievement remains a possibility, I don't delay exposure to other languages for the children, I gain in confidence in using other languages with the children. I think it sounds reasonable, for me and my family personally.
So, instead of just learning French in my independent study time or completely dividing the time up between four languages, I came up with a plan that might suit advancing my French all the while dabbling in the others: For every one hour of French I study, I'd study half an hour of one of the other three languages (rotating through the three each time round, ie each 30 min session is one of the three languages). Thus, were I to study 4.5 hours in a day (wishful thinking maybe), I'd have done 3 hours of French and 30 minutes of Dutch, 30 min Spanish and 30 min Norwegian by the end of it. In reality though, it would be one hour of French, 30 min Dutch, one hour of French, 30 min Spanish, one hour of French, 30 min Norwegian. Of course to ensure I'd sail on into C2 French land at the same time, I think I'd have to reach some pretty decent numbers with regards to daily study time on average. Still, let's say I didn't do so well and only reached 2.5 hours/day, then between 90 min and 2 hours of that would be French (depending on which language I started on at the beginning of the day), and that's still reasonable and there'd be a little of the other languages (the ones I miss I do the next day as per the rotation through the three other languages each 30 min session).
For it to be successful though, I would like to see whether I can push my daily numbers up with French first. If I can consistently reach four hours or more daily, then I think the plan has merits. If not, I might need to reconsider. Best to try the plan on for size just with French, since if I fail miserably, I haven't just gone on essentially a messy dabbling mission and seriously hindered my French progress. It's also got to fit around life, so best to try it on for size in the coming months in terms of overall language study time with French only as the practise run. This way I have an excuse to push my French harder for a while in order to reward myself with a potential multi-lingual study plan later. Perhaps I'll see what I can do through to the end of the year, just a thought.