Inst wrote:In their case, one was told that their career progression through middle and upper management was stalled due to poor English speaking capability, in the other case, this person has been approached repeatedly about poor or often embarrassing English, despite operating in a professional ability, yet has categorically refused to improve that person's English despite being intelligent enough to polish one's English. You can understand why I'd find this objectionable, no?
The middle and upper management is not the majority of the population or jobs.
It is totally understandable that the requirements for these people are high (after all, they want the best paid jobs), but they are not a representative sample of the whole society.
If the person's English affects their job negatively, it is their responsibility to either improve, or face the risk of losing the job they are not performing well enough as a consequence. But unless it is the case, improving beyond the necessary level (whichever it is for the particular job) may simply bring more sacrifice than profit and be a waste of time. You've said it yourself, that many other activities can be a better choice than language learning. If the person cannot see any reason to further improve their English, why should they waste time on it instead of spending it with their family, going to the gym, or knitting? Just to sound better to a certain sort of natives, that will never see them as equals anyways?
Don't get me wrong, the appearances are affected by the language level, and it is to some extent natural. If I manage to get a job abroad, I will personally strive to get beyond even my C2 abilities. Because it will lower the prejudices against me and also satisfy my ambition and need for external validation. But I totally understand the people who don't bother. Their attitude might actually be healthier.
Since Chinese is a very difficult language, "good enough" Chinese might actually be quite trashy and imperfect, and what we end up getting is the propagation and perpetuation of cultural misunderstandings through this basis.
This is a very good argument, if we interpret it right. Yes, getting to the same level in Chinese and French takes significantly different amounts of time and effort.
If we stick to the CEFR (perhaps for lack of a better scale, since the HSK is compared to it rather losely, from what I've read in various sources), which is defined mostly by functions you can do in the language, we know that for example B2 is likely to require the Chinese learners to learn many more things than the French learners. That much is true. But if they both reach B2 (the French one after a two years and the Mandarin one after six perhaps), they will be likely to do similar things.
C1 in each of the languages may be enormously different to get to, true. But that doesn't mean that anything bellow C1 is worthless in either of the languages.
Since this thread was started by a native speaker, I'd be extremely interested in Yafeef's opinion! I also love reading Tarvos' posts, she has lots of experience, knows tons of languages, and lived in China and other countries. I can think of nobody better to listen to!
The other importance of discussing Chinese, is well, Chabuduoism. This is basically a concept in Chinese culture, partially fuelled by Taoism and partially fuelled by underdevelopment. The term translates into "good enough"-ism, i.e, a constant acceptance and seeking of low standards. It becomes particularly relevant when we consider, say, the Chabuduoism in Chinese "translation" or how Chabuduoism leads to poor quality products, shoddy construction, and tainted medicines and food products.
The Chinese, in this way, are rather the polar opposites of the Japanese; i.e, there's no overwhelming drive to excellence and in fact there's an excessive tolerance for mediocrity. This is something that Chinese cultural critics have themselves named and brought up as a matter to address, in the same way, for instance, in the 1930s period, the Japanese were complaining about their own tolerance for mediocrity.
This is a very good note, various cultures have definitely different approach to being average, worse than average, or better.
But if there is such tolerance for mediocrity, isn't that actually good news for the language learners wishing to practice? The language learner's mission is primarily to adapt to the existing situation and improve their skills, not to fix the culture.
And, if you're asking about why I spend so much time commenting on how others learn, well, I just can't stand "happy with crappy" type attitudes. I get it. Language learning is hard. But you shouldn't use "language learning is hard" as an excuse to be satisfied with mediocrity; i.e, I object to "the soft tyranny of low expectations".
The problem is, that you call even the lower but still useful levels crappy, just because you obviously have no experience with them and no comparison.
And also the word "mediocre". If you look at its etymology, you'll notice that the definition of what is mediocre depends what is the whole observed sample like. In a world, where monolingualism is still common and A2 or B1 is a normal "pass" result of ten years of language classes at school in many countries, B2 simply cannot be called mediocre.
Don't get me wrong, a part of your arguments are things I could definitely agree with (for example how much space for improvement is still left at C2). But the way you say it means, that everybody should just give up. This defeatist and arrogant attitude is not helpful at all.
I actually wonder, why have you come to this forum and whether you've read a bit of it before starting to preaching. A not insignificant part of the members has reached C1 in at least one foreign language. And majority has found uses even for the lower levels. If you were a bit more open minded, you wouldn't fail to see that.