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

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

Postby PeterMollenburg » Tue Dec 06, 2016 3:40 am

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!!!).

Okay so I need to ask a few direct serious questions, if they've been answered before and you know where I can find those answers please just direct me there.

1. Could I reach C2 by March 2017 if I'm already currently a B2?

2. If above seems a stretch- Could I reach C2 by November 2017 if I'm already currently a B2?

Note: I generally aim to study 3 hours a day, but am only averaging a little over 2. In the next year I will try harder for 3hours/day but again may not reach it.


3. What would this entail (grammar study, speaking, reading) in your opinion?
3a) How many hours?
3b) What should I focus on?

4. Should I leave Dutch alone for now?

(I know the intermediate and beyond stages = law of diminishing returns, thus would 1 hour out of my French routine a day matter much at all? Or should I totally focus on French at least for now).

I'd particularly be interested in responses from those with certified C-level skills, but would also appreciate anyone else's input (some background on their situation would be nice, as it would provide me with insight into their experience and source of their knowledge/comments).
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Ingaræð » Tue Dec 06, 2016 10:29 am

I can't offer any advice about C levels, sorry. :oops:

But regarding:
PeterMollenburg wrote:
4. Should I leave Dutch alone for now?
(I know the intermediate and beyond stages = law of diminishing returns, thus would 1 hour out of my French routine a day matter much at all? Or should I totally focus on French at least for now).


When I feel like I'm struggling with Russian, I'll go and do some German for little while, or maybe take a look Assimil Hungarian. It gives my brain a break and puts me in a more positive frame of mind. When I return to Russian, everything seems easy again and I'm more productive - and that's the main goal, so it doesn't matter if I don't remember the German/Hungarian I've just done (bonus if I do!). In the long run, I don't feel like I've 'lost' any Russian time by doing that.

People use running, meditation, knitting etc. to help them refresh and refocus on a long-term goal. I don't see why you can't do the same by dabbling in another language.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Serpent » Tue Dec 06, 2016 12:46 pm

That's harsh, but are you sure you're B2? No courses are enough for this level. Knowing a lot of vocab is great but not enough.

Have you done an online test like Dialang or DLI? Have you gone through the checklist and tried some sample materials for the exam you're planning to take?

(On a side note, did emk take the same exam? or Cavesa?)


I agree about using another language to relax. see kujichagulia's logs :)
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby iguanamon » Tue Dec 06, 2016 1:03 pm

PeterMollenburg wrote:1. Could I reach C2 by March 2017 if I'm already currently a B2?

Having followed your progress for several years, and knowing your style of learning leans heavily toward formatted instruction- I would have to say that I doubt it very much if you continue with your same style. (Sorry, PM, but you and I have talked about this before) However, if you were to make radical change happen in your learning- reading every day, listening for an hour every day (something, really working with a series would be helpful) speaking with a conversation partner or paid tutor a couple of times a week, I think you could be knocking at the door by then.

PM, I don't believe it's your study time that's holding you back, I believe the issue lies within your unbalanced interaction with French. Each skill informs the other. Conversation, listening, reading, writing and explicit study in combination all have synergistic effects that help to grow the language inside your brain. Nobody can tell you what that mix should be for you individually, but by your own admission, you have been out of balance. Until you decide to give activities outside of what you consider to be formal study the same importance as a course, I don't believe you will progress that rapidly.

I'm going to digress here to tell you so0me of my experience with Portuguese. I just want to give you an idea of how I went about breaking out of the intermediate stage.

When I was learning Portuguese, I was using a private tutor in addition to individual work. She decided it was time for me to start watching a novela. I didn't just sit there like a couch potato just mindlessly watching TV. I had to work at it. There were no subtitles. It was a native show that had been on prime-time in Brazil. It was bloody hard at first. So hard that I felt like a failure. I'd watch once. Then I'd watch again and take notes. Then two more times before I had to talk about the episode with my tutor.

She expected me to write down every unknown word I heard and we'd talk about them over an hour. As I said, I took notes (in my own shorthand) with time stamps of the video. We both used the same streaming site. We had twice weekly one hour sessions on skype. The first session at first was all unknown words and missed speech. The next session was to be me giving my review of what happened in the episode. For the first 15% of the episodes my unknown words and missed speech bled into the second session too. I could only do one episode a week for a while.

Then, about six weeks in, something started to click. I got used to the actors voices and accents. I started really hearing what they were saying. I had been used to São Paulo speech and the novela was set in the Northeast of Brazil with a bit of a different accent and some different vocabulary taking place almost a hundred years ago. Then when I got used to it, I was able to go through the episodes with less difficulty. Being forced to discuss the episode made me really pay attention. I had to not only get my review right but I also had to get my grammar right when speaking. My writing also improved. Every facet of my language use improved because I was working on every facet. I was also studying grammar at the same time formally as I saw what I needed to work on. In addition I was reading novels and listening to an hour a day (news magazine) while I was on my morning walk. Towards the last third of this novela process, I got to where I was reviewing three episodes a week in two one hour sessions. My unknown words and speech dropped practically to zero. I continued to move on from there. and have never looked back. It worked. The whole novela process went on for about five months.

I consider myself to be at C1 and perhaps C2 on a good day. I don't believe I could have advanced as far and as fast without this work. It was what I needed to do. It was definitely not what I wanted to do and it was not fun at first. Once I started to see real improvement it became very enjoyable work because I knew it was working for me... helping to get me to where I wanted to be.

Today, I am doing a similar approach without a tutor for Haitian Creole and without a novela. I'm using a Bible study with a transcript- one guy speaking for half an hour about a chapter. I'm doing this because there simply isn't the choice available in Haitian Creole that there is in other languages and this is the closest I can come to replicating what has worked for me in the past. I've been at this for a couple of months now and I am seeing good results.

I know people have had bad experiences with tutors and hiring one isn't absolutely necessary. What I did with a series, to a large extent, can be replicated without a tutor by using a dubbed series and a transcript (made from a subtitles srt file) as a check. Then, just notice what you are hearing and reading and try to replicate that in speech or writing. I'm not saying that you should slavishly copy what I have done but this is what I mean by "working with a series"- emphasis on work. I believe you would also benefit from conversation practice, either with a good tutor or even just a native-speaker. Even once a week would help you in ways that you wouldn't believe. I know it does wonders for me in Haitian Creole speaking with a native-speaker.

I have never taken a formal test. I can't justify the expense involved for myself, living so far away from anywhere I could take such a test and I don't need it for what I do. If I were to take such a test I would want a guide, practice exams, work with a tutor who has taught people taking such tests etc. I do believe that it is necessary to train all the skills in order to have that base that can be built on with specific help. I believe that this is what you have probably been neglecting because you haven't given skills outside of formal study the same respect or attention that you place on formal study. Don't get me wrong, formal study with textbooks has its place, but you have shown yourself to be out of balance with this. Can you do all of this at the same time. Yes, you can, but it's going to take dedication and hard work- which I know you are capable of doing.
Should I leave Dutch alone for now?

That's up to you. Can you be disciplined enough to stick to a limited time period in a day? That would be fine and could actually be beneficial to you, ala Kuji. (Though Kuji is living in Japan while learning both Japanese and Portuguese.) If you start going great guns into Dutch, then, you'll have a problem... in my opinion. You're at a crossroads, PM. You can indeed take your French to the next level but I believe it's going to require major change in the balance of what you're doing to get there, and... that's something you have been unwilling to do. I believe you need to do that in order to get to where you say you want to be. Ultimately, do what you want to do... whatever makes you happy.

Cavesa will be able to give you more specific advice about French and the C2 test in particular. I am in awe of what she has accomplished in language-learning and life... and how hard she works at it. She makes us all look like slackers. :) . Good luck, PM. Sorry to come off as sounding harsh. I genuinely want you to succeed, but how long have you been doing what you're doing with French? The first rule of holes is- when you're in one, stop digging.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Serpent » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:13 pm

iguanamon wrote:
Should I leave Dutch alone for now?
That's up to you. Can you be disciplined enough to stick to a limited time period in a day? That would be fine and could actually be beneficial to you, ala Kuji. (Though Kuji is living in Japan while learning both Japanese and Portuguese.) If you start going great guns into Dutch, then, you'll have a problem... in my opinion.
Good point. In Dutch you'll be tempted to go through numerous courses again. Will you manage to limit yourself to 1-2 courses for the first year or so?
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby garyb » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:35 pm

B2 to C1 takes years, perhaps unless you're studying full-time and/or living in the country. Longer than zero to B2. I'm saying because I've also been there and done that, being at B2 and thinking I'd reach C1 in less than a year. I was in for a harsh surprise.

I can't judge whether your current level is B2 by the full criteria, but I'm sure you could pass the exam. I've seen people with much lower levels than yours pass it with some specific study.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby Xenops » Wed Dec 07, 2016 4:45 pm

Thanks to PM for bringing this up, and I have a question: would the Super Challenge of reading so many pages of native material, and watching so many hours of native TV, be a secure method of reaching the C levels (providing you work to understand the material)?
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby iguanamon » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:02 pm

Xenops wrote:...would the Super Challenge of reading so many pages of native material, and watching so many hours of native TV, be a secure method of reaching the C levels (providing you work to understand the material)?

If you mean by "reaching C levels" being able to do everything within a second language- including speaking and writing , I don't believe so. To be able to express one's self in a second language a learner must actually practice that and get some feedback. Reading and listening are easier because we tend to skip over things when we can understand what's going on well enough. That doesn't mean that the mix has to be equal between all the skills but if a learner wants to speak/write and speak/write well then that has to be practiced as well to some extent. Some formal study (especially grammar) helps to tie everything together- this often gets skipped. The individual skills tend to reinforce each other, in my experience. The Super Challenge would be a big help but in itself, it won't be enough, in my opinion.
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby aokoye » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:16 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!!!).

Okay so I need to ask a few direct serious questions, if they've been answered before and you know where I can find those answers please just direct me there.

1. Could I reach C2 by March 2017 if I'm already currently a B2?

2. If above seems a stretch- Could I reach C2 by November 2017 if I'm already currently a B2?

Note: I generally aim to study 3 hours a day, but am only averaging a little over 2. In the next year I will try harder for 3hours/day but again may not reach it.

Given how long it has taken you to go from B1 to what you perceive to be B2 I really doubt that you'll be able to go up two full levels by November. C1 - yes, C2 - not so much. Hell C1 by March would be pushing it (I am likely a B2 in German and I'm not planning on taking the C1 test until November, unless I'm able to take a German class in Germany this Summer).
If I were you I would try to find my strengths and weaknesses and work on improving my weaknesses while also bringing my strengths up to whatever level I feel appropriate (what test you're planning on taking or whatever your end goal is). Then I'd reassess and change your emphasis if needed. Either way if it took you two years to get to B2 and you feel like you're stagnant you need to change something in terms of how you're studying.

For me I know my main weaknesses in German are reading and writing. I also need to increase my vocabulary knowledge. For whatever reason it is far easier for me to understand the context in spoken speech (with or without video) than it is in written text. Because my goal is to pass either the Goethe C1 or the TestDaF I am currently slowly working through a C1 textbook (after having done a B2 book) making sure that I put all of the words I don't know into Anki. I made sure to buy a textbook that was heavy on reading content because it's my biggest weakness. All of the reading from the textbook that I'm doing is intensive. It's tedious in terms of vocab but I've found that I'm able to recognize the "new" words when I hear them and often when I read them in other contexts now which is validating. I also have been attempting to force myself to reread the sections I'm getting words from which I won't claim that I do as consistently as I think I should. After I eventually finish the textbook I'll work out of a book that is specific to the test I decide to take and likely do a number of practice tests (note that I'm taking this because I want to do a masters in Germany or perhaps Austria).

Outside of that I am also reading a book in German. The reading that I'm doing out of that book and everything else I read is totally extensive reading. I'll look up a word if it comes up a lot and I can't get it through context (despite it coming up a lot) but otherwise I just don't look things up when I'm reading it. I'm planning on doing more writing once this school term is done (one more final today!) but I'm going to have to really hold myself accountable for that.

On top of all of that I watch, and to a lesser extent listen to, a lot of native German language content. I started procrastinating by watching German documentaries years ago and I will also watch the news and other shows in German. I credit most of my listening skills to that.

Should you start Dutch now? If you really think it won't eat into your ability to improve with French then go for it. I'm studying Hebrew right now through my university and it's not an issue. That said my goals with Modern Hebrew are to pass the class with an A. I could be spending far more time on it than I am but I just am not attatched to it in the way that I am with German. If I were taking Swedish, Norwegian, or French right now (or probably even Spanish) it would be far harder to keep focus with German because I am just more interested in those languages (note for my degree I have to have two terms of a non Indo-European language). If I were starting (or really, restarting) Dutch then my goals with German would be laughable because I really enjoy Dutch and would have trouble not spending massive amounts of time on it (that would then eat into the energy I have for German).
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Re: Time from B2 to C1/C2? (frustrated somewhat- seeking some feedback pls)

Postby aokoye » Wed Dec 07, 2016 5:21 pm

Xenops wrote:Thanks to PM for bringing this up, and I have a question: would the Super Challenge of reading so many pages of native material, and watching so many hours of native TV, be a secure method of reaching the C levels (providing you work to understand the material)?

I agree with Iguanamon on this one. I don't think it would bring up up to C1 or C2 in speaking or writing period. I could see it bringing one's reading and listening up C1 (or maybe a low C2) from a B2 or maybe a high B1. I would also make sure to do listening that isn't just watching TV. TV gives you the added crutch of being able to see what's going on and/or what's being referenced. You lose that context in listening unless say, they're talking about birds and there's audio of birds singing.
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